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Mississippi State vs Arkansas: Bulldogs Let Down by Defense

Mississippi State and Dan Mullen lost their shot at bowl eligibility tonight.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Mississippi State Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Much like last year, this year’s senior night was filled with disappointment due to the defense giving up huge plays. Mississippi State ultimately fell 58-42 to the Arkansas Razorbacks.

What appeared to originally be a shootout between the two teams became lopsided early on as the Razorbacks pulled away in the second quarter. Dan Mullen’s offense just couldn’t keep up and Peter Sirmon’s defense didn’t do anything to slow Arkansas down.

Fred Ross and Donald Gray combined for 263 receiving yards on 17 receptions and were clearly the favorite targets of Nick Fitzgerald, as they have been all year. The duo had no problems finding openings in the secondary and Ross was able to grab a couple of touchdowns in the process.

Unfortunately, much like Arkansas’ defense, the Bulldog defense had plenty of weaknesses exposed by big plays. The Razorbacks dominated the line of scrimmage and barreled right through linebackers and safeties on the ground on their way to gaining 357 yards on 41 carries for an average of 8.7 yards per carry. The Razorbacks found the endzone 5 times on the ground in addition to the 3 times they scored through the air.

Nick Fitzgerald had what was without a doubt the best night of his career. Fitzgerald totaled 459 yards and 6 touchdowns, 4 of which came on the ground. The offense looks bright with Fitzgerald at quarterback, but Dan Mullen will need to find a defense to be able to find wins in the future with his star quarterback.

The Bulldogs fall to 4-7 with the loss and 2-5 in conference, and ultimately will more than likely not make a bowl. The Mississippi State doesn’t have as much to play for anymore, but the Egg Bowl is approaching and MSU will have a shot to prevent Ole Miss from reaching bowl eligibility as well.