Mississippi State opened the 2010 season with a thoroughly dominating 49-7 win over Memphis, a Conference USA team.
Redshirt freshman Tyler Russell didn’t start at quarterback, but he had a fine debut. The Meridian product was 13 of 16 for 256 yards and four touchdowns, finding Brandon Heavens twice and Chad Bumphis twice. Russell’s first action saw him lead the Bulldogs 91 yards in seven plays, capping it with a 20-yard strike to Heavens for a 14-0 lead.
Starter Chris Relf was good, too, going 7 of 9 for 116 yards and one touchdown, plus an interception on his first pass.
Heavens, a sophomore making his first career start, led State with five catches for 112 yards, while Bumphis had four for 100.
The rushing attack accounted for 197 of MSU’s 569 yards, and it was balanced. Vick Ballard gained 60 yards on seven carries and scored twice, while LaDarius Perkins had 57 yards on eight carries. Robert Elliott, who started at tailback, had 11 rushes for 39 yards.
MSU nearly had its first shutout since 1999, but Memphis finally got a late TD. The Tigers, who started Cannon Smith at QB, turned to true freshman Ryan Williams early on after Smith proved ineffective. Didn’t help, as MSU pressured Williams and came up with two interceptions, both by cornerback Maurice Langston.
MSU’s first score was a 55-yard TD pass from Relf to Leon Berry. It was 21-0 at halftime, and then State poured on 21 more points in the third.