Well fellow Bulldog faithful, let’s just call it what it is... a gut punch. The wind was knocked out of all of us as we watched our #14 Bulldogs get surprisingly upset by the Kentucky Wildcats 28-7 a year after defeating the same Wildcats 45-7 in Starkville last season. There really isn’t a way to sugar coat this game. Our Bulldogs got outplayed and out-coached in pretty much every facet of the game. The Bulldogs were riding high after a 3-0 start, but this game was the first real test of the season and we failed miserably.
Miss. State’s stout defense allowed Benny Snell Jr. to run for 165 yards on 25 carries to go along with his 4 touchdowns. The Wildcats rushed for 229 yards as a team compared to the Bulldogs abysmal 56 yards on the ground which is usually where we are at our best. Coming into the game I thought the only way Kentucky would come out victorious was by stretching our defense in the passing game to open up their run game. That was not the case as Terry Wilson Jr. only threw for 71 yards in the air going 8-14 passing with 0 TD’s and 1 INT. The Wildcats rushing attack wore down our Bulldogs defense and a close game in the 4th quarter turned into a 21 point victory in a hurry.
It just wasn’t our night. Fitzgerald could not get anything going consistently and was clearly rattled by the stellar Wildcat defense. He was contained all night and pressured regularly as our offensive line committed more false starts than I even want to remember, much less write about, and missed too many blocks on the edge. Believe it or not our passing numbers were much higher than our rushing numbers, which is something we are not used to seeing. In the end we committed an atrocious 16 penalties for 140 yards while Kentucky only committed 5 penalties for 42 yards. To say we played undisciplined football is an understatement, and while there were some very questionable calls and no calls by the refs, that was not the deciding factor to why we lost this game. The intensity wasn’t there, the discipline wasn’t there, the running game was stagnant, there were too many inaccurate throws, there were too many drops and the preparation for this game from our coaches was clearly missing. All in all... this was just a very bad game. Kentucky deserves a ton of credit for containing Mississippi State the entire game in many areas.
So like I said, this loss was a gut punch... but I’m here to tell you all is not lost. Yes it was a very tough loss to deal with, but hey... we are Mississippi St. Bulldog fans... this is nothing new to us. We have had plenty of gut wrenching losses over the years. Remember Maine in 2004? Of course y’all do... yes I try to put that game in the back of my memory as well. How about South Alabama? Ok I apologize... I’ll stop bringing up those forgettable memories. So yeah... we’ve experienced worse. Yet through those tough and forgettable games our Bulldogs showed up week after week and we have stood behind them with unwavering support through it all. It was losses like those that led to Jerious Norwood and our Bulldogs upsetting the Florida Gators. It’s remembering the feeling of watching a winning field goal attempt clang off the left upright that led to Fitzgerald and our Bulldogs upsetting #4 Texas A&M in stunning fashion and dominating a favored Ole Miss team in Oxford with an Egg Bowl record breaking rushing performance. It is losses like these that truly test our resolve as Bulldogs and builds character in that locker room. The greatest indicator of a great team is not in never falling but in rising when they get knocked down and responding to defeat with fire in their eyes.
Kentucky was our first test... we failed. There is no changing that. It is in the past and we must push forward. The true test to see what this team is made of is next week. How much heart and determination will they have as a team next Saturday against Dan Mullen’s Florida Gators after a disappointing defeat? How much hard work, preparation, blood, sweat and tears are they willing to sacrifice to achieve their goals? Are they willing to fight for every inch on that field in front of their home crowd? Put this loss behind you Bulldog Nation, our Dawgs need our support and need every single seat filled next week. We should barely even be able to talk next Sunday from letting this team know we are behind them every play and every step of the way. Giving up is not in this teams nature... it should never be in our nature either.
Hail State Till We Die.