Mississippi State wasn't competitive at home in blowout loss to Auburn
Mississippi State was the No. 1 team in America after beating Auburn a couple of seasons ago. After Saturday’s 38-14 loss to the Tigers, it’s tough to find one good thing in the Bulldogs’ humiliating loss on their home field.
Better win at BYU: Mississippi State has been to six straight bowl games under Dan Mullen. That is in jeopardy. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Bulldogs will be favored to win three more games, and that includes a 51 percent chance of beating Arkansas at home on Nov. 19. The FPI gives the 2-3 Bulldogs a 29 percent chance of winning on Friday in Provo, Utah.
Mullen on the hot seat: That’s the talk from some of Mississippi State’s own. Since losing Dak Prescott, the Bulldogs have looked inept. They lost to South Alabama and had to stave off one of the worst offenses in the country in a win at UMass. Mullen has raised expectations but is expected to field a competitive team even in rebuild mode. That isn’t happening.
Struggles at QB: It was one thing to set career marks at UMass. Against Auburn, sophomore Nick Fitzgerald finished with a 19.3 QBR and a deceiving 181 yards on 17-of-34 passing. He threw for 61 yards in the first half. There were some drops, and he had little time behind a porous offensive line.
Rankin’s miscue symbolized the day: Left tackle Martinas Rankin sat by and watched his quarterback take a hit and fumble the football. He literally stayed in his stance at the snap as a defensive end could have tip-toed past and forced the same fumble. Woof.
Couldn’t stop the pass either: Mississippi State couldn’t throw it and couldn’t stop from being thrown on. Sean White completed 14-of-18 passes for 204 yards, 11.3 yards per catch. White would have thrown it more had Kamryn Pettway not looked like an All-American running back.
Offense: F – The 14 points is deceitful. Both passing touchdowns came in a 35-0 hole, and the offense overall was incapable. It was 6-for-16 on third downs (0-for-4 in the first half) and rushed for 103 yards on 33 attempts. It looks like the Bulldogs are just trying things to see what sticks, and nothing is.
Defense: F – This defense was supposed to carry the offense. They watched Pettway carry the ball 39 times for 169 yards and couldn’t stop White from getting a first down per completion.
Special teams: F – Westin Graves missed a 28-yard field goal on the team’s first possession. The Bulldogs didn’t have a kick return and returned two punts for minus-3 yards.
Coaching: F – That’s a rough grade, but this was an uncompetitive effort. All three phases are a mess, and there are still unanswered questions like why isn’t Aeris Williams getting more than two carries? Mullen looked just as defeated in the postgame handshake.
Overall: F – Fans were gone and frankly have very little to look forward to the rest of the season.
Auburn is sixth in the SEC in rushing defense and second in passing defense. The Bulldogs needed to get something established on the ground but never did. The quarterback again led the team in rushing despite a stable of seemingly capable backs. Seven players recorded carries on the day. Only Ashton Shumpert and Brandon Holloway had more than three, and they had four each. Auburn did that instead behind Pettway for a bruising performance on the ground.
QB Nick Tiano: The backup was 1-for-1 passing for 5 yards. That’s how bad it was.
WR Keith Mixon: Had 2 catches for 55 yards. If the Bulldogs ever discover an offense, Mixon has the potential to light it up.
LB: Richie Brown: Senior had 14 tackles, 7 of them solo. Sadly for the defensive staple, his efforts are coming on a bad defense.