Mississippi State Rewind

Thumbs up, thumbs down
Thumbs up: Two huge thumbs up – more if you’ve got ’em – to senior tailback Anthony Dixon. In one game alone, he rushed for a school-record 252 yards – Jerious Norwood gained 247 in a 2005 game – eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, and had a career-high 33 carries. Oh, and he scored two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score late in the third quarter from 3 yards out. For the season, Dixon has 1,001 yards on 182 carries.
As a team, State gained 348 of its season-high 493 yards on the ground. Quarterbacks Tyson Lee and Chris Relf combined for 97 rushing yards.
Thumbs down: MSU fell behind early, 14-3, and committed two first-half turnovers, both Lee interceptions. The Bulldogs, however, have done what they’ve done all season: Fight through, and this time they were able to finish the job. That whole “relentless effort” thing coach Dan Mullen keeps talking about – it’s paying dividends.
Keys to victory
Reviewing the 3 keys to the game listed in Saturday’s GameDay edition:
Get Dixon back on track: After being held to 53 yards on 15 carries in a 29-19 loss to No. 1 Florida the previous week, Dixon got back on track and left everyone else in his dust. The effort gave him six 100-yard games this season, the most he’s ever had in one fall. The school’s career rushing leader has 15 games of 100 yards or more in his career. But he was quick to credit his offensive line, which dominated Kentucky’s front.
No big returns: Kentucky’s Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke both have touchdowns on returns this year, but both were pretty well contained Saturday. Locke had one kickoff return for 21 yards, and Cobb had one punt return for 46 yards, setting up a field goal at the halftime horn.
Keep the picks coming: MSU entered the game with 11 interceptions, tied for most in the SEC. It got another, from linebacker Jamar Chaney to kill a Kentucky scoring threat at MSU’s 9-yard line in the fourth quarter and preserve a 31-24 lead. MSU also recovered two fumbles and won the turnover battle.

Anthony Dixon had 116 yards at halftime and just kept churning away when the rest of the offense struggled. His steady, dominating presence kept MSU in the game and was a big reason Lee was able to hit O’Neal Wilder for a 67-yard game-tying touchdown pass in the third quarter.

Next up
The Bulldogs get a week off before a date with No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 14.

Bottom line
This win makes MSU 3-1 on the road, and it was critical to the team’s bowl hopes. It also was a huge step for a team that’s fully bought into Mullen’s approach. Games like this make the Bulldogs believe things are headed in the right direction.
Brad Locke

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

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