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Mississippi State Bulldogs 28, Kentucky Wildcats 22: When Small Is Big

Kentucky turns in a game effort against Mississippi State, but comes up short on the small plays that make the difference

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the game between Kentucky and Mississippi State, it seemed that it might improbably be decided by which team had the most big plays. The Bulldogs scored the game's first touchdown on a 60-yard pass from a scrambling Dak Prescott to Malcolm Johnson. A few minutes later, Ryan Timmons took a screen pass 51 yards to get Kentucky's first points.

But football is just as often decided by the small plays as by the big ones. Or by small errors or mistakes on routine plays. And both killed Kentucky in this game. On a brilliantly executed on-sides kick by Kentucky late in the third quarter, Daron Blaylock was flagged for a very questionable off sides call. Blaylock was not instrumental to the play in any way.

Then, in a Mississippi State drive that began about halfway through the fourth quarter, the Wildcats failed to stop the Bulldogs on not one, not two, but three third-and-medium to third-and-long plays. By the time Kentucky got the ball back on a big sack with 2:08 to go, they had a chance to win the game -- but not a very good one.

And by stopping them, Mississippi State managed to preserve its faint hopes of a bowl game and go above .500 for the first time this season. And the Bulldogs, who essentially outplayed Kentucky on both sides of the ball for most of the night, certainly deserved the win.

But the game seemed mostly to indicate that Kentucky is a few small things away from being able to beat even a team like Mississippi State. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, those small things can make all the difference in the world.