Mississippi State football: Ripples from monumental comeback at Auburn
So, I was wrong. Well, I wasn’t, and then I was. Last week I predicted that MSU just wasn’t on the same page as Auburn.
I was wrong.
Mississippi State came back from down 28-3 on the road on Saturday against a ranked Auburn team for, by far, the best Bulldogs victory of the season.
The Bulldogs scored 40 unanswered points to defeat No. 17 Auburn 43-34.
That was the only win that either Ole Miss or Mississippi State will earn over one of the SEC Alabama teams in the 2021 season.
The key thing to note is that this game seemed to encompass every aspect of Bulldog football we’ve seen in 2021, Year 2 under head coach Mike Leach.
The Tigers gave up big plays and a lot of points before rallying and outscoring the Tigers 20-6 in the fourth quarter to win.
Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers II played out of his mind with a performance that, if replicated in 2022 or later, will lead him to Manhattan for the Hesiman Trophy presentation.
Rogers threw for 415 yards on 55 attempts for 6 touchdowns and no interceptions. There were probably a few throws and/or decisions he would like to have back, but those statistics are as close to perfect as you can get.
Rogers completed passes to 10 different receivers, 9 of whom caught at least two balls and 7 of whom caught at least four. That is the kind of distribution that can keep a defense off balance and lead to a waterfall of points like it did on Saturday.
Once again, Rogers showed patience in his decision-making. Even with MSU down by more than 3 TDs, he never forced the ball into particularly dangerous situations and took what the defense gave him.
His longest completion of the afternoon was just 31 yards.
I focus on the offense because the defense is, at this point, the least surprising thing about the Bulldogs, at least to anyone who has been paying attention.
The Tigers scored with 3:37 remaining in the first half to go up 28-3. From that point, the Bulldogs scored touchdowns on six consecutive possessions, excluding the 12-second possession they had right before halftime.
While that was happening, the defense held the Tigers scoreless on five straight possessions.
There were a few bits of good luck, including a controversial targeting call on the Tigers that was upheld. Auburn also missed 2 field goals, one of which MSU blocked.
At this point, I really don’t know what to say about the Bulldogs other than that, with a little more focus early in the season and maybe some better luck, this could very easily be a 1-loss or 2-loss team still in the mix to win the SEC West.
Leach and his staff will hope that games like this help recruits understand Mississippi State’s stock is rising quickly.
At this point, the Egg Bowl feels likes an explosive way to end Thanksgiving between two teams with more on the line than most imagined heading into this season.
The game against Mississippi will feature two defenses that are surprising people, two of the most interesting and polarizing head coaches in the entire country, and two of the top quarterbacks in the conference.
We should probably start talking about this game soon. But for now, the Bulldogs can bask in their remarkable win at Auburn. The team is for real.