Recapping MSU’s 28-10 win over Auburn at Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday.
Mississippi State broke all its bad trends.
Dan Mullen got his first win over Auburn, and his first win against an SEC Western Division opponent not named Ole Miss. MSU snapped a 12-game losing streak in SEC openers. The Bulldogs started 2-0 for the first time since 2000. The game that coaches, players, fans and media had been pointing to for months wasn’t always pretty for MSU – especially in the first half – but the final result was a convincing one.
“I always laugh, you guys think, OK, I guess the monkey’s off my back now. I view it as a bigger one just jumped on, and I hope in November we’re talking about an 800-pound gorilla jumping on my back right now,” Mullen said. “That’s what I want for our program.”
The offense overcame early miscues and missed opportunities and in the second half showed the kind of productivity that’s been expected of it. The Bulldogs gained 388 total yards, with Tyler Russell completing 20 of 29 for 222 yards and three touchdowns, no interceptions. MSU also had 166 yards on the ground, led by LaDarius Perkins‘ 83 yards.
“Everything we put on (Russell), he managed throughout the course of the game, got us in the right plays, made great throws, hung in there when he needed to hang in there, got rid of the ball when he needed to get rid of the ball,” said Mullen. “We need him to play like that if we want to compete for a championship this season.”
It was a miserable day for Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier, and MSU’s defense was the major reason for that. The sophomore was 13 of 22 for 125 yards and three interceptions. Two of those picks were by Johnthan Banks, who now has 14 in his career, two shy of Walt Harris‘ school record. Darius Slay also had an interception, and MSU recovered two fumbles. State had one turnover.
Auburn gained 216 total yards, including 91 on the ground. The Tigers padded those stats in the fourth quarter.
It was an ugly first half for MSU, which missed two field goals, lost a field goal, drew five penalties was 0 of 5 on third downs. And then the air left the stadium as Onterio McCalebb returned the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and 10-7 Auburn lead.
But then it started clicking for State immediately. It covered 75 yards in 11 plays, retaking the lead on Russell’s 13-yard scoring pass to Chad Bumphis. The offense picked up steam from there as the defense continued to deny Auburn any significant forward progress. Marcus Green caught his second TD pass, and then Perkins scampered 21 yards for a 28-10 lead early in the fourth.
Green finished with four catches for 54 yards, while Bumphis had three for 47. Chris Smith led the way with five grabs for 46 yards.
Aub – Cody Parkey 23 FG, 9:40 (11 plays, 33 yards, 6:04)
MSU – Marcus Green 30 pass from Tyler Russell (Devon Bell kick), 6:53 (7 plays, 70 yards, 2:47)
Aub – Onterio McCalebb 100 kickoff return (Cody Parkey kick), 14:46
MSU – Chad Bumphis 13 pass from Russell (Bell kick), 11:35 (8 plays, 75 yards, 3:11)
MSU – Green 3 pass from Russell (Bell kick), 4:38 (10 plays, 58 yards, 4:41)
MSU – LaDarius Perkins 21 run (Bell kick), 12:33 (3 plays, 62 yards, 1:02)