STARKVILLE – Through three quarters, Mississippi State found itself in a shootout with sixth-ranked LSU Saturday night.
The Bulldogs trailed by one score heading into the final quarter.
But that’s when things went terribly wrong for MSU’s upset hopes. The Tigers scored two touchdowns in the first minute of the fourth quarter and added two more late to earn a 14th consecutive win over State 59-26.
“We were in position going into the fourth quarter to win the game,” said MSU coach Dan Mullen. “But I started seeing guys push a little bit, trying to go make the play instead of doing your job and making a play when it presents itself. There’s a lot to be learned from that.”
The Bulldogs had particular trouble even slowing down LSU’s passing attack. Tiger quarterback Zach Mettenberger picked apart Mississippi State’s secondary completing 25 of 29 passing for 340 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Odell Beckham Jr. hauled in nine passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns while Jarvis Landry caught eight balls for 96 yards.
The Bulldogs had some success through the air as well. Dak Prescott and Tyler Russell combined on 16 of 31 passing for 252 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Jameon Lewis led the MSU receiving corps with seven catches for 111 yards and a score while De’Runnya Wilson made two grabs for 80 yards and a touchdown.
LSU was able to consistently make plays throughout the game which was the biggest contrast according to Mullen.
“You have to give them credit, they made a lot of plays,” Mullen said. “There were multiple times in the game where their (defensive back) jumps and just tips the ball away from one of our receivers. That didn’t happen on the other side. We didn’t ever jump and tip it away from them. When I looked, we had guys in position for most of the night and they just executed and still made the play. We needed to make more of those big plays.”
The second half was also unkind to the Bulldogs from an injury standpoint. Cornerback Jamerson Love left the game in the third quarter while right guard Ben Beckwith, left tackle Blaine Clausell, defensive end Preston Smith were all helped off the field over a four play span in the fourth.
Mullen did not know the severity of the injuries during his Sunday teleconference but was scheduled to meet with the team trainers at 3 p.m. this afternoon.
“When you play a big, physical SEC game like that you’re going to be bruised,” Mullen said. “But I don’t think there were any significant injuries of that group. But whether they will be available this week, we’ll find out a little later today.”
The Bulldogs should get a boost in the secondary this week with the debut of sophomore cornerback Will Redmond. The former four-star prospect from Memphis, Tenn., was suspended by the NCAA for receiving impermissible benefits during his recruitment costing him the first 19 games of his college career.
“I’m excited to see him play but this will be his first college game,” Mullen said. “There will obviously be a big learning curve for him stepping on the field. He’s officially our least experienced defensive back except for the guys who or redshirting this year. Will’s been a good student, worked hard and done everything he’s supposed to do during his time here. Now he gets the opportunity to finally go play. I’m really proud of the way he’s handled the whole situation.”
MSU continues its four-game homestand this weekend hosting Bowling Green for homecoming Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Net. The Falcons enter the weekend at 5-1 riding a three-game winning streak including a 28-7 win over Massachusetts on Saturday.
“They’ve had some pretty convincing wins over some good teams,” Mullen said. “They’ve always been a good football team. They had a big win over Akron, who almost beat Michigan, and dominated them. They are going to come in and not be intimidated playing in this stadium and playing against a big school. In my two years there we were undefeated against BCS teams. They know how to win games and they are going to come in expecting to win.”
Mullen spent the 2001-02 seasons at Bowling Green as quarterbacks coach under Urban Meyer. State assistant coaches Billy Gonzales and John Hevesy were also on that staff.
“We had a great time at Bowling Green,” Mullen said. “It was one of my first full-time coaching positions and had the opportunity to go coach quarterbacks. I got to work with guys like Josh Harris, Andy Sahm and Omar Jacobs. It was a great time and I had a lot of fun. I think we learned a lot and cut our teeth there.”