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Mississippi State Drops Season Opener to South Alabama

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The Bulldogs’ second half failures wound up costing them today’s game.

NCAA Football: South Alabama at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Today was an unmitigated disaster for the Bulldogs. South Alabama came to town and made a comeback that Jaguar fans will celebrate for years. And unfortunately, it’s one that will haunt many Bulldog fans for the foreseeable future.

It started off great, sure. Well, not initially. After Nick Fitzgerald was named the starter, the offense sputtered early in the first quarter. Enter Damian Williams. The play book opened up, and the offense flourished, for the most part, with Williams leading the charge.

The Bulldogs were able to score late in the first quarter, with a Williams touchdown pass to Deddrick Thomas. After that, MSU’s defense kept the offense from South Alabama quiet.

Mississippi State would then score early in the second quarter with a Brandon Holloway scamper up the middle to extend the lead to 14-0. The offense slowed down a bit from there in the second quarter, but Westin Graves was able to extend the lead to 17-0 with a 37 yard field goal with 4:41 in the first half.

And then the Bulldogs’ offense would come to a screeching halt in the 3rd quarter. South Alabama’s halftime adjustments, combined with a lack of offensive creativity, lead to the Bulldogs only scoring three in the third. But before the Bulldogs scored that field goal, South Alabama started to mount their comeback, and a touchdown pass from Dallas Davis of the Jaguars would make the score 20-7 after three quarters.

And then the fourth quarter happened. The Jaguars would continue their charge, scoring another touchdown, and bringing them within six points of the Bulldogs, at 20-14. Mississippi State’s offense would continue to sputter, but they were put in position to extend their lead but a missed field goal attempt by Westin Graves would prevent that from occurring. South Alabama then did the unthinkable and took the lead from the Bulldogs with another touchdown pass from Davis, giving him two for the day.

With 57 seconds on the clock and three timeouts, Mississippi State would be given an opportunity to reclaim their lead, and walk away the victors. After the kickoff went out of bounds, the Bulldogs had the ball on their own 35. The offense was able to quickly advance up the field, thanks to receptions by Donald Gray and Brandon Holloway, and an 18 yard dash by Damian Williams. Mississippi State would march down to the 11 yard line with 9 seconds on the clock to attempt a field goal, but this one was missed as well.

The dumpster fire that was the second half of this game has ignited the hot seat for Dan Mullen for many fans. In what is his first upset loss as a head coach, Mullen finds himself in an interesting predicament.

This is far from the first time that fans have called for his job, but it might truly be in danger this season if he can’t find a way to turn the ship around. The failure to make necessary adjustments, and the decision to not switch quarterbacks when South Alabama keyed in on Williams angered many fans.

While wins within SEC play would do wonders to calm fans, losses to conference rivals would only enrage fans further. Dan Mullen needs to find a way to fix this mess, and he’s only got a few days before a rebuilding South Carolina looking for another conference win comes to town.