Rapid Reaction: Mississippi State gets back on track with win over BYU
It wasn’t pretty at times, but the Mississippi State Bulldogs took care of business against BYU on Saturday afternoon in Starkville.
Coming off a bye week, the Bulldogs got off to a hot start and then managed to hold on for a 35-10 victory over the Cougars.
Turnovers hurt coach Dan Mullen’s squad, but Mississippi State still managed to win to improve to 4-2 on the season.
Here are a few quick thoughts on Saturday’s home victory:
Just what the doctor ordered
BYU was only 1-5 this year entering Saturday afternoon’s game, but coming off a bye following two straight blowout losses to Georgia and Auburn, an easy win was exactly what the Bulldogs needed.
The Bulldogs dominated the Cougars in nearly every aspect of the game, much like LSU did against BYU in Week 1, earning a big home victory.
There will be a lot of things to work on this week in practice, but it was good for the players to get back on the field and earn their fourth win of the year.
Nick Fitzgerald gained confidence
Playing Georgia and Auburn is enough to drive any SEC quarterback crazy, but Fitzgerald managed to get back on track against BYU, running for two touchdowns and throwing for two others.
When he’s dominating with his legs and his arm, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the conference, and he proved that on Saturday afternoon.
He needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball, as he threw two interceptions against the Cougars, but it was a big effort from the redshirt junior.
The Bulldogs ran for more than 200 yards and also passed for more than 200 yards. Everything was working for coach Dan Mullen’s offense on Saturday afternoon.
Mississippi State is at its best when opponents don’t know whether to expect a run or a pass, and Mullen’s squad switched it up nicely against BYU.
Moving the chains
The Bulldogs had converted only 41 percent of their third downs entering Saturday’s game, but they did a lot better against BYU.
Mississippi State converted eight of its 13 third downs, and added a fourth-down conversion for good measure.
Meanwhile, BYU only got first downs on four of its 13 third downs.
Put teams away
Though the Bulldogs were never really challenged by BYU on Saturday, they let the Cougars hang around a bit too much, as the score was only 28-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
They then immediately turned it over, letting the Cougars start the final period with the ball. Three turnovers on the day really hurt the Bulldogs, but a win is still a win.
There are a lot of things Mullen and his staff will have to address this week, but it was a good effort from the Bulldogs in their first game after the bye week.