Hello, Mississippi State fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of “The Good, the bad and the Ugly!”
The Bulldogs find themselves back in the College Football Playoff committee’s rankings at No. 25. Hopefully the Bulldogs can remain there for this rest of the season and maybe, just maybe, even move up in the top 20 before they head into their bowl game. This past Saturday’s game against Auburn was one for the books, to say the least, but before we talk about last week’s drama on the Plains, let’s take a look at this week’s matchup against Tennessee State.
The Tennessee State Tigers are currently sitting at 5-5 on the season and are fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 3-3 conference record.
The Tigers are averaging 20.7 points per game and tend to lean on their passing game more than their running game. All in all, the team is balanced on offense. One thing that could be a plus for Mississippi State is that Tigers starting quarterback Geremy Hickbottom has a back injury and could be out for this Saturday’s game.
This game should be a solid victory for Mississippi State and an opportunity for the Bulldogs to start strong on both sides of the ball while also earning their seventh victory of the season. Tigers head coach Eddie George, who was star running back for the Tennessee Titans, said it best when he spoke to his team about their upcoming trip to Starkville, Mississippi.
“Winter is coming,” which is a phase from the hit TV show “Game of Thrones.”
So, with that, let’s talk Hail State football with, “The Good, the bad and the Ugly!”
Just about everything after the first half against Auburn was good, Both the offense and defense came out of the locker room with a totally different mentality than what we all watched in the first two quarters. The execution of the offense, most notably the passing game, looked as good as any other time this season. It just seemed that, for the first time, the wide receivers and quarterback Will Rogers were firing on all cylinders.
The run game for the Bulldogs was also once again very effective. Again, I’m not talking about the amount of yardage but rather the effectiveness of how it supports the passing game. Both Jo’quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson are keeping opposing defenses in check with their ability to make big plays on the ground. State does not have to put up over 100 yards rushing per game to keep the linebackers in check. They just need to be effective on most of their carries and Mississippi State’s passing game will do the rest.
Speaking of the passing game, this past Saturday. Rogers set a few records on the Plains. The first being the most passing touchdowns in a game for a Mississippi State quarterback. He set a new Mississippi State single-game best with six touchdown passes. Second, Rogers exceeded over 400 yards passing for the fourth time this season, which is the most for a Bulldog quarterback in school history. Three of those games came against Southeastern Conference opponents.
I understand that Mississippi State is not a contender for the national championship this season, but Rogers should at least get some love from the Heisman Trophy voters because next year could be even more impressive if he continues this crazy stuff.
As for the defense, who couldn’t seem to stop anything in the first half, they became a concrete wall in the second and pretty much shut down the Auburn offense.
The first half was just hard to watch. It just seemed that the Bulldogs handed over their playbook to the Auburn staff and let them call the plays. I think it is fair to say that the defensive game plan was not quite right for this game in the first two quarters.
However, I must be totally fair and give defensive coordinator Zach Arnett some major credit. He made his best halftime adjustments during his tenure at State. Arnett and the Bulldog defense put the hammer down in the second half and shut down the Auburn Tigers’ offensive shenanigans.
I would also like to say that the Bulldogs will need a good field goal kicker before the Egg Bowl. I do believe that kicker Nolan McCord has the ability and confidence to be that guy, but for God’s sake, the Bulldogs need to be able to hit those opportunities from within 35 yards.
Many may not agree with me on this, but here it is. That targeting call against the Tigers in the fourth quarter was the greatest call ever at the time. Hail State. But it really wasn’t the right call. What I saw was an Auburn defender trying to block a pass and making incidental contact.
This league really needs to put a check on all these targeting calls. I agree with the process of preventing head injuries, and I believe that anything that looks like targeting should be called on the field, but the review committee has got to get better at determining the outcome. Hey, Mississippi State has also been a victim of these calls this season. We need better reviews in these cases.
Prediction Week 12
As I stated above, the bulldogs should have a very positive day at home inside Davis Wade Stadium. I hope that the Bulldogs can get some of the younger players in the game and rest the starters for the upcoming Egg Bowl against those Black Bear Rebel Land Sharks next Thursday.
Mississippi State: 52
Tennessee State: 13
GOD BLESS, HAIL STATE and GO DAWGS!!!