Coming into this game we were all hoping to see Nick Fitzgerald and the offense show the same balance we saw last week against Texas A&M, and for the second week in a row our Bulldogs did not disappoint. Nick Fitzgerald got off to a red hot start and was able to spread the ball around to several different receivers completing 17 of his 28 pass attempts for 243 yards and 4 Touchdowns in a 45-3 rout of LA. Tech.
The Mississippi St. Bulldogs were able to build on top of last weeks performance through the air and also was able to have a balanced offensive attack with another great rushing performance this week. Nick Fitzgerald was able lead the team in the rushing attack by carrying the ball 18 times for 107 yards. The Mississippi State offense was able to accumulate a total of 289 yards on the ground with solid performances from a trio of running backs in Kylin Hill, Aeris Williams and Nick Gibson. Miss. State finished the game with 532 total yards and the defense once again had a magnificent game by only allowing 238 yards and zero TD’s against LA. Tech. The Miss. State defense still leads the nation with the least amount of TD’s given up this season, and has added to its terrific resume as one of the best defenses in Mississippi State history.
I was confident that we would beat LA. Tech this week but I was still a little concerned about this game considering it was just a week after an emotional victory over Texas A&M. I have seen plenty of teams over my life underperform after victories like that and I was hoping we wouldn’t see a “hangover” against a fairly good LA. Tech team. LA Tech was able to hang with LSU just weeks ago before LSU took off in the 4th quarter and came away with a 38-21 victory. So naturally I was hoping for a quick start to alleviate any of my concerns. A quick start is exactly what we got. Nick Fitzgerald was able to find Stephen Guidry for an 11 yard TD pass to give Miss. State an early lead just 2 minutes and 22 seconds into the first quarter. By the end of the first quarter, I knew this team was 100% ready at kickoff and all of my concerns were for nothing. Nick Fitzgerald threw 3 TD passes in the 1st quarter alone, finding Deddrick Thomas for a 36 yard TD pass and then found Kylin Hill for a 23 yard TD pass with just 7 seconds left in the 1st quarter. The pass to Kylin Hill was without a doubt my favorite play of the night, and is arguably the best throw of the season by Nick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald floated the pass over tight coverage and the ball was just inches over the LA. Tech defenders outstretched hands and went to where Kylin Hill would be the only one able to catch it near the corner of the right side of the end zone. Running back Kylin Hill hauled in the pass with an over the shoulder catch just like a WR. I am beginning to wonder if there is anything Kylin Hill can’t do... maybe we should come up with a trick play and let him pass the ball? Wouldn’t hear me complaining about it considering how well he has played. Nick Fitzgerald threw his 4th TD pass with just 30 seconds remaining in the 1st half to WR Jesse Jackson which was the first of his career as a Mississippi State Bulldog.
The fact that Nick Fitzgerald was able to spread the ball around to multiple receivers is a very good sign that things are starting to click for this Bulldog offense. All 4 of Fitzgerald’s touchdowns were hauled in by different players and the offense just seems to finally be peaking. You can just see it in their eyes and body language. They are playing with so much more confidence and intensity than we saw weeks ago and they are having fun while doing it. As reserved as Coach Moorhead has been this season, even he is starting to show emotion on the sideline. You can just tell that this team is starting to believe in themselves and are playing like we knew they could. You can chalk this weeks results being because of an inferior opponent in an inferior conference, but the fact is this team is executing at a level we had not seen earlier in the season... especially in the passing game.
As good as Nick Fitzgerald and this offense has played the last 2 weeks, they will face their toughest opponent of the year on the road against Alabama, who is coming off a dominating 29-0 road victory over LSU in front of a sold out Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. The fact that they held LSU scoreless in front of their home crowd is remarkable. This Alabama team led by Tua Tagovailoa is arguably one of the best teams in Alabama’s storied history, if not the best. They have dominated every opponent they have faced this season, and for our Bulldogs to have a shot they will have to play perfect football and force Alabama to commit some mistakes or turnovers. Are our chances great? No... and that’s ok... I don’t think any team in the country has a good chance to beat Alabama, but if there is one message I would like to relay to our Bulldogs... it is the fact that as good as Alabama is, they are still human. They still get tired, they still sweat and bleed just like we all do. They are the closest team to perfection, but no team is unbeatable. If our Bulldogs can dig deep and go into Bryant-Denny stadium without being intimidated by the atmosphere, and instead use the atmosphere to fuel themselves on the field, they could very well find themselves hanging with the best team in the nation just like they did last year. Doing it on the road is even tougher, but if they believe in themselves and play the way we know they are capable of, there is always a chance no matter the odds stacked against them. Forget what the media says, forget what they say about your chances and forget everyone saying it can’t be done... use their doubt and the noise of the crowd as fuel and just play Bulldog football.