Memphis is a bad football team, and Mississippi State took full advantage with its 59-14 win. The Bulldogs had 405 total yards at the half, had a school record 645 total yards on the game, and the 59 points were the most MSU has scored since putting 61 on Middle Tennessee in 2000. As best as I can tell, last night combined with the 52-14 bowl win over Michigan makes the first time the school has ever scored over 50 points in consecutive games.
But wait a minute. Didn't we see this last year? Mississippi State trashed Memphis 49-7 a year ago in a game that made Tyler Russell look like a threat to unseat Chris Relf as starting quarterback. That didn't exactly carry over much, nor did it make MSU a true West division contender as Chris Low now says they look like after last night. Let's go to the tale of the tape for Mississippi State against Memphis:
|Yards per Play||8.62||9.34|
|Yards per Pass Att||14.9||10.8|
|Yards per Rush||4.8||8.1|
|Yards per Point||11.61||10.93|
In most respects, the 2011 game was better for the Bulldogs than the 2010 game was. However, parsing details from massive blowouts rarely yields much insight.
One thing that jumps out more than anything else is plays and time of possession. Mississippi State debuted an uptempo offense, and last night's sideline reporter mentioned that Dan Mullen went to Oregon to learn about fast offense from Chip Kelly this offseason. MSU ran 66 plays in 31:16 in 2010, but it ran 69 plays in just 22:40 last night. Memphis managed just 53 plays in 28:44 last year, but it ran 87 plays in 37:20 this time around.
The "it's just Memphis" caveat applies in spades, but that could be the one takeaway that actually means something. If Mississippi State keeps up with this faster offense, it could rack up impressive amounts of points and yards. It also could hang its defense out to dry with all of the extra plays, especially wearing it down on days when the offense isn't working quite so well.
Mississippi State's uptempo offense is your first SEC story line to watch in 2011. You know, besides how big a train wreck Kentucky ends up being.