The Mississippi St. Bulldogs won their game against UMass by a margin of victory that was much closer than most thought it would be. After entering halftime trailing 20-13, the Bulldogs outscored the Minutemen 21-3 in the second half to take home the win.
There were a number of factors that helped contribute to the performance. Consider these factors:
- Mississippi State just came off a big win.
- The Alabama Crimson Tide comes to Starkville next week.
- The Bulldogs were without four receivers.
- It was an 11:00 start.
- The crowd was anemic, at best.
- UMass had yet to lose a game by more than 10 points.
They aren’t excuses for a team letting an inferior opponent hang around, but it shouldn’t be shocking that Mississippi State had less than their best effort. But the Bulldogs did win and guaranteed Mississippi State a winning season for the seventh time in nine seasons under Dan Mullen.
There were a number of things coach Dan Mullen will take into the film room with his team to work on before Alabama comes to town. However, Mullen could have put the team in jeopardy by his own playcalling.
In the 4th quarter, Mississippi State had scored to take a 27-20 lead. They had the football and it looked as if the Bulldogs were finally playing like the far superior team. The Bulldogs were punishing the UMass defense with the running game and looked well on their way to another touchdown. Dan Mullen then called for a wide receiver reverse pass by Reggie Todd that fooled no one, and Todd was picked off.
UMass took the ball inside the ten yard line, but had to settle for a field goal. The ensuing Bulldog possession would result in a three-and-out. Mississippi State would hold on defense, and Deddrick Thomas took the punt in for a touchdown to finally give Mississippi State the breathing room fans had been looking for the entire game.
There isn’t much that fans should look at as an indicator about how the team will play against Alabama. But the one problem Mississippi State will have to worry with is Johnathan Abram was called for targeting in the second half and will have to sit for the first half of the next game.
The Bulldogs will welcome the Crimson Tide next week. With Auburn winning their game this week against Texas A&M, we await the result of the Georgia-South Carolina game to see when Mississippi State will play next week. If Georgia wins, Mississippi State likely plays at 6:00 on ESPN. If South Carolina wins, the Bulldogs will likely play at 2:30 on CBS.