MSU 27, Middle Tennessee St. 6
Thumbs up, thumbs down
– Thumbs up: MSU’s defense returned to form, holding MTSU to 248 total yards, including just 42 on the ground. The last three foes had racked up 933 passing yards against the Bulldogs, but the Blue Raiders had just 206 and were intercepted four times, all in the second half. In two trips to the red zone, MTSU had to settle for two field goals.
– Thumbs down: The offense didn’t turn the ball over – it had done so 18 times on the season – but it wasn’t clicking on all cylinders, either. The Bulldogs gained 333 yards and got 135 rushing yards from tailback Anthony Dixon. However, MSU punted seven times and converted on just 5 of 17 third-down tries.
3 Keys Review
1. Stop dropping the ball: Quarterback Tyson Lee dropped the ball twice – once on a bad pitch and another when he got hit on a run. But MSU got the ball back both times, and it finished the game with no turnovers.
2. Stop the pass: Middle Tennessee quarterbacks Brent Burnette and Dwight Dasher combined to throw four picks, and MTSU was 4 of 14 on third-down conversions.
3. Stop the bleeding: Coming in with three consecutive losses weighing on them, the Bulldogs simply needed a win. As linebacker Jamar Chaney put it after the game, “It don’t matter if you win by one, half-a-point, just get that ‘W.’” Now MSU has some much-needed confidence heading into this week’s game against No. 1 Florida.
– Dixon: He had 100 yards and two school records by halftime: career rushing yards and career 100-yard games. His fast start put the offense in a place where it could do what it wanted and took pressure of Lee, who was an efficient 14 of 20 for 155 yards.
– While it came against a Sun Belt Conference school, this was still a win. Those are going to be hard to come by during the final five games: vs. No. 1 Florida, at Kentucky, vs. No. 2 Alabama, at Arkansas, and vs. Ole Miss.
Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal