The Mississippi State Bulldogs dropped a tough 21-19 decision to the LSU Tigers Saturday night at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville. Looking out of the game for much of the first half, the Bulldogs mounted a fourth quarter comeback that fell an incompletion and a missed field goal short.
The Bulldogs left the field with a mixed bag of positives and negatives from the contest.
1. Mississippi State has to play a complete game to win. Mississippi State looked as if they were going to be chased out of their home stadium at the beginning of the contest. LSU moved the ball well during the first quarter and on one drive in the second half. Unfortunately for Mississippi State, they were not able to answer the offensive attack of LSU until the second half, especially the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs showed the same issues last week against Southern Miss. If Mississippi State wants to have a 7-9 win season, that has to change before Mississippi State returns to SEC play.
2. The Mississippi State rushing attack and offensive line have to show up. The Bulldogs are not going to win many games when they run for under 60 yards, and unfortunately, that was the case Saturday against LSU. The Bulldogs did not run the ball well against Southern Miss either. This has to change for the rest of SEC play.
The offensive line issue is very concerning. Many of the issues in the running game come from the line being overran by the opposition. Dak Prescott was sacked or under duress way too many times in this game. Many fans felt that Mississippi State would be able to plug and play at the running back and offensive line positions. This looks as if it was not the case.
3. Mississippi State must improve in late game situations. Last year against Alabama, the Bulldogs did not manage the clock well, and this hindered them in their attempt to defeat Alabama. Saturday night, the Bulldogs were not able to get off of the field in a timely manner, and clock management in the final seconds cost the Bulldogs five yards and maybe the winning field goal.
If Mississippi State wants to win the tough games, this has to change.
4. It is nice to have confidence in Westin Graves. It has been a while since Mississippi State fans have felt comfortable with a field goal kicker. Unfortunately, Graves was not the kicker on the game winner, which was apparently just out of his range.
His leg did not make enough of a difference to give the Bulldogs a win against LSU, but it will come up big somewhere this year.
5. The season is not over. The loss to LSU makes it tough for the Bulldogs to win the SEC West, but it is still a possibility. Even if it does not happen, Mississippi State can still put together a successful season. Auburn does not look like the team folks have expected, and neither does Arkansas. There is no reason Mississippi State cannot be 7-1 or 6-2 headed into the final four games of the season.