Published November 8, 2011 - 7:03am
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Mississippi State headed into Saturday night’s homecoming contest looking for a convincing win and a dose of confidence on offense. The Bulldogs found both, in the form of a 55-17 whipping of Tennessee-Martin.
In front of a another sold out crowd at Scott Field, MSU routed the Skyhawks and moved one step closer to bowl eligibility. By capturing win number five on the year, Dan Mullen’s squad is now just one victory away from post-season action.
The schedule obviously gets much tougher for the Bulldogs moving ahead, with games against Alabama and Arkansas on the horizon. Before looking to the future, though, here’s some interesting notes from this past weekend’s affair in Starkville:
- State used three different quarterbacks during the course of the game (Tyler Russell, Chris Relf and Dylan Favre), with each one leading multiple scoring drives.
- Senior running back Vick Ballard recorded 102 yards of rushing and two touchdowns. Surprisingly, it was Ballard’s first time to reach the endzone since the Louisiana Tech game in week four. His second scoring run, which went for 54 yards, was also his largest gain since the season opener at Memphis.
- Johnthan Banks returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. The junior defensive back is now only the second player in nation to have both a punt return and an interception return for a touchdown this season.
- Statistically, this was the Bulldog’s most balanced performance of the season on offense. Of the 570 total yards gained, 282 came through the air and 288 on the ground.
-Arceto Clark, a junior, hauled in five catches for 96 yards to lead all receivers in the game. Two of those receptions were for touchdowns. Chad Bumphis was second on the stat sheet, catching 4 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.
- Punter Baker Swedenburg was only called to duty on two occasions, marking the second week in a row that MSU was only forced to punt twice. Sewedenburg was averaging 6 punts per outing through the first 7 games of the year.
- Favre took over at quarterback early in the fourth quarter, earning the most playing time of his career thus far. The redshirt freshman completed 3 of 4 passes for 38 yards. He also ran 12 yards for a touchdown to close out the game.
-After being named SEC defensive lineman of the week three straight times, junior tackle Fletcher Cox failed to make a tackle on Saturday.
- Nick Griffin, another redshirt freshman, carried the ball 10 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. At 6’1” and 215 lbs, Griffin is expected to be the Bulldog’s starting running back next season.
- Cody Sanlin hit a 31 yard field goal for UT-Martin as time expired in the second quarter, making the score 28-3. A first half shutout would have been MSU’s first of the season.
Looking Ahead – This weekend, the Alabama Crimson Tide comes to Starkville fresh off their heartbreaking “game of the century” loss in Tuscaloosa. It’s hard to say whether an LSU win was a good thing or bad thing for the Bulldogs, but we’ll find out soon enough. Considering that State played the Tigers very tough in week three, losing 19-6 in the end, it isn’t beyond reason to think that Mullen’s bunch could put up a fight against a dejected Tide team.
Later this week, we’ll take a look at this matchup and see how Mississippi State stacks up against the guys from 80 miles down the highway.