Something happened at halftime. Dan Mullen wasn't pleased and it showed throughout the first half. Execution was lacking and the Bulldogs held a 10-3 lead at the intermission. Suddenly, an explosion happened and MSU looked like the number 12 ranking that is in front of their name.
Tyler Russell was once again his cool self throwing for 191 yards on 17-21 passing and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. LaDarius Perkins had yet another 100-yard performance rushing for 129 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. That touchdown meant that Perkins is now one of only two players in FBS with a TD in every single ball game.
The Bulldogs started off the game about how they have every game, by moving the ball straight down the field and getting points out of it. MTSU got a heavy dose of Perkins as he carried nine times on the drive for 36 yards. But the real hoss of the drive was senior receiver, Chris Smith. Smith has been criticized by many this season for fumbling the football but it was not meant to be on this drive. Smith had catches of eight, 22, and finally a four yard strike to hit pay dirt and a 7-0 lead.
The drive was the Bulldogs longest in both plays (14) and time(7:19), and the quarter was nearly over just like that.
MTSU would take over first and 10 from their own 24, but the Bulldog defense stood up and forced a three-and-out. MSU took over after the punt to Bumphis was returned eight yards to their own 42.
State would use their balance to move the ball down the field and inside the MTSU 10, but a false start by Justin Malone on third and three forced MSU to throw the ball and Russell was forced out of the pocket and had to throw it away. Devon bell would come in and nail a 32 yard field goal to give State the 10-0 advantage with just 17 seconds remaining.
The second quarter was a whole lot of nothing as neither team could keep a consistent drive going. MTSU would sustain a drive and get inside the 20 and hit a 32 yard field goal for their first and only points of the nigh.
After a Russell fumble on a sack, MTSU had last second heave from midfield tipped by Johnthan Banks and caught by Anthony Amos but time ran out and the score was 10-3.
The second half brought a complete focus and intensity from the MSU team. With the student section nearly empty, most still remained of the 55,108 crowd that was apart of the 21st consecutive sellout.
But MTSU was just as aggressive. The Blue Raiders came out to give one last punch to the Bulldogs. They managed to get four first downs on the drive getting to the MSU 36. But MSU held and forced the punt that Banks returned 15 yards.
MSU went straight to work with a first down on third where they completed nine of 12 on the night. And on second and 10, Perkins finally got loose. He followed his blockers into the secondary and shot out of a cannon for a 64 yard burst and the route was about to begin.
Three plays into the MTSU possession, Banks picked off pass number 16 in his career tying him for first all time with Bulldogs great Walt Harris. But it was after the play that silenced the Davis Wade crowd. Banks laid writhing in pain on the turf holding his knee but possibly the loudest ovation of the year occurred when he got up, on his own power, and walked off the field. He would not return.
Offensively, Russell and the Bulldog offense faced a third down and eight. Russell stepped up in the pocket and fired a pass to Smith into coverage and he reached up and grabbed touchdown number two on the ballgame from 11 yards out and gave State the 24-3 lead with 4:37 remaining in the third.
It was then that the defense would strike again. Senior leader, Cam Lawrence got to the quarterback with a slamming sack followed by a fumble and Lawrence recovery.
The throat would be cut immediately as Russell found Robert Johnson for a great catch on the very next play from 23 yards out. MSU now led 31-3 with 2:06 remaining in the quarter.
Going into the fourth, MTSU would have their drive stopped with yet another sack by the MSU defense, this time by senior defensive end Shane McCardell.
It was all Dak Prescott for the rest of the game as he came in for good in the fourth. He began his first real drive with back to back completions to Joe Morrow and Brandon Hill for an MSU first down. Nick Griffin would follow it up with his best run of the year taking it 44 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the MTSU five. Prescott would put it in the endzone on the very next play and MSU now led 38-3 with 12:38 remaining.
After yet another defensive stop, MSU would get the ball back and take it 59 yards on five plays for another score. Jameon Lewis took a sweep for 12 yards, and Derek Milton got into the mix with back-to-back carries going for 33 yards total. The second was a six yard score to put the Bulldogs on the board a final time, 45-3.
Late in the game, with MTSU knocking on the door, freshman Kendrick Market picked off the Blue Raider pass in the endzone and MTSU was held without a touchdown and MSU was now 7-0.
The second half production was extremely heartwarming a week before the biggest game of possibly MSU's history. A showdown with No. 1 Alabama is looming and the winner could quite possibly be the SEC West's winner. Kickoff at Bryant Denny Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast nationally by ESPN.
- Dak Prescott recorded a touchdown run again Saturday night, and now nine of his 20 carries have gone for either first downs or touchdowns.
- There are only three quarterbacks in the country that have thrown for a 15 touchdowns and less than two interceptions. Two of those qbs? Tyler Russell and AJ McCarron who face off next week.
- Russell continues to make moves up the charts of MSU history. With his three touchdowns, he tied former teammate Chris Relf(28) for fifth place all-time in touchdowns and passed Omar Conner(3,080) for ninth all-time in passing yards with 3,226.
- Senior wide receiver Chris Smith tallied a career-high seven catches, including a career-best two touchdown receptions. Smith became the first MSU player with three or more catches in five-straight games since Chad Bumphis did it in seven-consecutive games from Nov. 21, 2009 to Oct. 9, 2010.
- After just one 100 yard game rushing in his first 28, Perkins has now rushed for 100 yards four out of the last five games. His 64-yard touchdown run kept him as one of only two players in the country with a touchdown in each game and also was a career long.
- The last time that Bama and MSU were both undefeated was on October 3, 1942.
- Dan Mullen has put points on the board in all 45 of his games as head coach. The streak is the third-longest in MSU history, tying Jackie Sherril's teams from 1997-2001. The all-time record is 90 from 1978-1986.
- MSU has won nine consecutive games continuing from last year which is the third longest streak in the nation behind Alabama (11) and Oregon (10). Nine straight is also third-longest in school history.
- State is 16-2 under Dan Mullen against non-conference foes, but more importantly, he's won 15 straight. The school record is 18 set from 1941-47.
- The 16 touchdown passes this season are fourth-most in school history.
- The Bulldogs have scored 25 points or more in seven-consecutive games for the first time in school history, while their 257 points scored are also the most points scored through seven games in school history.