Mississippi State football: Another rally falls short, leading to questions
This will get old. For the third time in the first four games, the Mississippi State Bulldogs needed to mount a multi-touchdown come back and for the second straight time, that comeback fell short.
For the third time in the first four games, the MSU Bulldogs allowed careless mistakes to be the difference in a ball game in which, it appeared, they outplayed their opponent. This will get old.
Now State fans can begin counting all the wins that got away from them in the 2021 campaign because their team could be 4-0 and probably ranked headed into Week 5. Instead MSU lost to LSU on Saturday, 28-25, and fell to 2-2.
I once heard a piece of wisdom from a Matthew McConaughey movie that completely changed my perspective on things. “Sometimes, things are exactly what they seem like.” As it pertains to the Bulldogs, this couldn’t be more true.
Will Rogers plays well, though not great. The defense outperforms expectations and is impressive, frankly. The mistakes and big plays are the problem.
We now have a sample size for Mississippi State football that includes one school with a clear talent advantage, two schools with a similar talent level out of conference, and one school with less talent. The Bulldogs are exactly what they appear to be: Almost good. Let’s take a look at the LSU loss.
Three big mistakes come to mind that might have changed this game for the Bulldogs.
First, WR Malik Heath fumbled a pass from Will Rogers after gaining positive yards to the LSU 30-yard line. LSU picked it up and rumbled for another 30 yards to set up a short field.
Heath appeared to drop the ball reaching for extra yards or had it popped out by a tackler. Either way, the Bulldogs were looking at a new set of downs deep in opponent territory. Instead, they fell behind 7-0 after LSU converted that short field into a touchdown.
Secondly, Rogers threw an interception that baffled me. Just watching replays, it looks to me like Rogers attempted to throw the ball away, but didn’t quite get it all the way there. I could be wrong, but because Rogers has been making very smart decisions this year, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. Regardless, the pick was costly.
Third, a missed Nolan McCord field goal in the third quarter ended up being the margin of victory for LSU. A field goal at that time would have cut LSU’s 14-3 lead to 14-6, making the difference just one possession.
The Bulldogs currently do not have the talent or depth anywhere on their roster to hand their opponents extra possessions or to leave points on the field.
Unlike a hard-fought game against a clearly superior opponent, this is not a moral victory. This is a missed opportunity.
Despite the frustration of the futile comeback attempt, the Bulldogs do look quite a bit better than I imagine many in college football thought they’d look. Mississippi State fans have to be beyond excited about the development of Rogers and the success of the defense.
Rogers, once again, managed the game and took shots en route to 371 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. Rogers’ ability to stay patient and take underneath throws opened up the run game against LSU.
Dillon Johnson led the way on the ground, picking up 51 yards on just 8 carries with a long of 12 yards. That means that Johnson took advantage of creases in the defensive line and the linebackers and safeties worrying more about the air raid. Jo’quavious Marks added 46 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
If the Bulldogs can get that level of success on the ground, their season could round into form nicely. For now, though, they have to deal with another loss. Next up is Texas A&M, a team that will be looking to bounce back after Saturday’s loss to Arkansas.