Last week’s loss seems to have lit a fire under Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs’ lackadaisical play in the second half allowed South Alabama to erase a 17-point deficit for a stunning 21-20 upset as MSU missed a 28-yard field goal with six seconds left.
“We were really supposed to have won that game hands down, no question about it,” said MSU sophomore guard Deion Calhoun. “When you lose a game like that, everybody’s head is down. Coach (Dan) Mullen came out and said he’d let us down so it’s up to us now to pick it back up. Everybody has a chip on their shoulder because we feel like we’ve got something to prove.”
The Bulldogs will have a chance to make their point when they return to the field against South Carolina at 6 p.m. tonight on ESPN2.
“We’re coming off a loss we don’t feel good about,” said MSU senior running back Brandon Holloway. “You just want to get the problem fixed. Everybody can’t wait until Saturday so we can show what we really can do.”
South Carolina’s fate was right the opposite in its 13-10 opening victory at Vanderbilt on Sept. 1. The Gamecocks trailed by 10 at halftime but rallied for a 13-10 win as Elliott Fry kicked a 55-yard field goal with 35-seconds remaining.
Both teams are expected to showcase multiple quarterbacks today.
State started sophomore Nick Fitzgerald last week but gave way to junior Damian Williams after the second series. Fitzgerald failed to complete a pass while Williams led the offense to four straight scoring drives before cooling off and finishing the day with only 143 yards through the air.
The Gamecocks split reps between senior Perry Orth and true freshman Brandon McIlwain in the opener. Orth completed 11 of 19 passes for 152 yards while McIlwain was 5 of 11 for 35 yards in his collegiate debut.
“They’re playing a two-quarterback system with the young freshman kid, a young dynamic player,” Mullen said. “They can run, hurt you different ways and the older kid really came in threw the ball well.”
Although there is nothing Mississippi State can do now to get last week’s game back, the Bulldogs can still get off to a 1-0 start in conference play.
“It’s a big game for our team,” Mullen said. “Obviously, it’s the first SEC game of the season. Anytime you get into conference play it’s critical to go out there and get a win. It kind of jump starts your conference season and where you’re at. You want to get that first conference win and start out on a positive note.”