Rapid Reaction: Will Rogers delivers career day as Mississippi State crushes Vanderbilt
Despite the ugly start to the game, Mississippi State eventually got on track and rolled over Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville, 45-6.
The loss extended Vanderbilt’s SEC losing streak to 17 games.
Will Rogers had a career-high 4 touchdowns as he overcame 2 interceptions in a game that he again put up big numbers. Rogers came into Saturday as the only QB in the SEC with at least 400 passing yards and multiple touchdowns in the same game, and he’s done so twice. He is one of 5 players nationally with multiple such games.
But he left the game with 386 yards on 42-for-58 passing. Rogers led the Bulldogs on scoring drives of 8, 14, 10, 11, 10 and 11 plays. It’s the fifth time this season that he has 3 or more touchdowns, and the seventh time in his career.
The Bulldogs sufficiently rebounded from a 49-9 loss at home to Alabama. And this one was a rare lopsided victory this year. Previously, the Bulldogs had played 5 games before Alabama that were decided by an average of 4.2 points.
The Bulldogs extended their winning streak against Vanderbilt to 5 games. State has not lost to the Commodores since Oct. 2, 2004. Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea was on that team, which snapped a three-game losing streak to start the season by beating Mississippi State 31-13 at Vanderbilt Stadium. It was one of just 2 victories for the Commodores that season and it was also the last time Vanderbilt has defeated Mississippi State.
What’s more, State made its first road trip to face the Commodores since 2009 and has not lost to Vanderbilt in Nashville since 1988.
State controlled the time of possession for much of the game, especially in the first half when it had more than 15 minutes of possession more than Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs ran 50 plays, compared to 17 for the Commodores.
After repeated attempts near the goal line, Rufus Harvey made his first career touchdown on a third down play from the 6 to extend the State lead to 21 points. For more context on the time of possession, State’s scoring there that was capped by Harvey went 11 plays, 50 yards, and 5:05. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, had 7:05, of total possession in the first half.
The first half was ugly at times, including a sequence of back-to-back interceptions, and the Vanderbilt pick game the Commodores 9 on the season, compared to the 2 they had all of last season. Meanwhile, for Rogers, it was his fourth interception of the last 2 games.
After State made its pick, the Bulldogs appeared to give it up again, but the next Vanderbilt interception was reversed on review, and then the Commodores got a penalty for roughing the punter, which extended the State drive. The Bulldogs took full advantage when Rogers lofted a 31-yard touchdown pass to Makai Polk with 9:01 remaining in the second quarter on a drive that they also picked up a fourth down conversion. Polk made a great adjustment on the route to turn it more vertical, and he had just enough room to make the catch in the back of the end zone to give State a 14-point lead.
Earlier, Vanderbilt continued its big play ability that it had last week against South Carolina, when Mike Wright found Devin Boddie for 61 yards, the longest play of the season for the Commodores. However, that play was an outlier, as the Commodores largely struggled on offense.