The Mississippi State Bulldogs traveled out west to Provo, Utah to take on the BYU Cougars on Friday night. It was an unusual series of circumstances for a SEC team to be playing on a Friday night, but a welcomed one. The Bulldogs had an earlier opportunity to wash their mouths of the demoralizing loss to the Auburn Tigers six days earlier and move on with their season; however, they would lose in overtime and move to 2-4 on the season.
What did we learn?
MSU outgained BYU but still lost. The Bulldogs had 386 total yards to the Cougars 311 yards, completed over 40% on third down, and had 23 first downs to BYU’s 21 first downs. These are usually solid numbers that would indicate a victory. Still, Nick Fitzgerald’s two interceptions killed decisive scoring opportunities, and those turnovers would come back to haunt MSU in the fourth quarter. Kicker Westin Graves would continue to struggle missing one field goal on the opening drive that would have been decisive.
The Bulldog defense played better after the Auburn debacle. Mississippi State had held BYU to seven points heading into the fourth quarter, and at times seemed to be firmly in control of the line of scrimmage. The Cougars were held to 311 yards, which is below their 420 yards per game average. An adept rushing attack was held to only 146 yards which was far below their 210 yards rushing per game. The Bulldogs added one sack and seven tackles for loss. The Cougars had been allowing six tackles for loss this season.
The Bulldogs are in a hole going forward. Next up in the SEC for MSU is a road game against mediocre Kentucky, followed by hosting Texas A&M, and then a road game to Alabama. After that, they close the season against currently-ranked Arkansas and Ole Miss. It’s astonishing that with six games left in the season, MSU only has two home games. The Bulldogs probably beat Kentucky and Samford but that would only move them to four wins. They have an extremely slim margin to find two other wins and move to bowl eligibility.