NOTEBOOK: Familiar painful ending for Bulldogs

Jay Sailors | Associated Press Mississippi State wide receiver Shelby Christy (80) and defensive lineman A.J. Jefferson (47) walk off the field after the team's 24-20 loss to Auburn on Saturday.

Jay Sailors | Associated Press
Mississippi State wide receiver Shelby Christy (80) and defensive lineman A.J. Jefferson (47) walk off the field after the team’s 24-20 loss to Auburn on Saturday.

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

AUBURN, Ala. – For the second trip in a row, Dan Mullen has left the plains of Auburn heartbroken.

In 2011, Mullen watched helplessly as then Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf was stuffed at the goal line by defensive back Ryan Smith falling inches shy of a touchdown as time expired in a 41-34 defeat.

Saturday night it was a different story but ended with the same result. Clinging to a 20-17 lead, Mullen looked on in the final 1:56 as the Tigers drove 88-yards on 12-plays on his defense and saw Nick Marshall find tight end C.J. Uzomah in the side of the end zone for the game-winning score with 10-seconds remaining

It was the third time in Mullen’s five-year tenure that he last lost to Auburn on the final drive.

“We didn’t finish,” Mullen said. “It was a pretty simple deal. We had an opportunity to finish the game on offense and didn’t do it. We had an opportunity to finish the game on defense and didn’t do it. That’s all coaching to me so that’s all on me and our assistant coaches to make sure we have our kids prepared to go finish the game and we didn’t do it.”

It was the first time in 30 games that Mullen has lost when leading after the third quarter.

Familiar faces

There were familiar faces on both sidelines Saturday night. Auburn’s coaching staff is littered with former MSU assistant coaches. Charlie Harbison, J.B. Grimes, Ellis Johnson and Melvin Smith spent a combined 25 years in Starkville. Additionally, Tiger players Jermaine Whitehead and Deon Mix were once Mississippi State commitments.

Bulldogs running backs coach Greg Knox coached wide receivers on the plains from 1999-2008 while running back LaDarius Perkins and cornerback Jahmere Irvin-Sills were both committed to Auburn at one point during their recruitment.

Key drive

Auburn went 88 yards on 12 plays scoring the game-winning touchdowns with 10 seconds remaining. Nick Marshall was 6-of-8 passing on the drive and tossed a 11-yard touchdown to C.J. Uzomah.

Key number – 339

Number of yards allowed by MSU through the air.


“We just have to finish. On defense we played hard the whole game but in that fourth quarter we just didn’t finish like we should have.” – MSU sophomore linebacker Benardrick McKinney.

Next weekend

State returns home to host Troy at 6:30 p.m. on FSN. The Bulldogs won 30-24 at Troy last season.

Bulldog Bites

Nickoe Whitley had two interceptions bringing his career total to 12… Whitley is now tied for third on MSU’s pickoff list and is tied for the most of any active FBS player…The loss was the first for Dan Mullen when leading after three quarters (29-1)…Deontae Skinner, A.J. Jefferson and Richie Brown recorded their first career sacks…Kendrick Market made a career-high seven tackles.

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  • pdreb

    Losing three starters, two of which were second round picks in the NFL Draft, from that secondary obviously created a problem for Mullen. Many Dawg fans said the secondary would actually be better this year which made no sense. Marshall is a decent QB but throwing for 339 yards is over the top. Poor secondary, slow defense and st

    • Patrick

      What i saw from Banks last year in the egg bowl didnt look like you lost much there

  • pdreb

    And stalling offense dropped this one for Mullen and the Dawgs.

  • The Ghost of Col. Reb

    Manny Diaz will be back in Starkville soon!

  • MidTennDog

    Finish, finish, finish. It’s pretty easy not to finish when you go into a prevent defense only up three with the SEC’s best kicker waiting to kick a field goal. And then when they get into field goal range, what does State do? Stay in the prevent, so that Auburn can get in the red zone and put themselves in position to score a touchdown… which they did. Maybe Mullen should FINISH coaching school.

  • Darnell

    What is the issue? Is it coaching, talent, or both? I watched Auburn drive the length of he field with a QB who had only been on campus for 5 weeks and I wonder why can’t the bulldogs do the same thing. Something has to change. It’s been the same tired, predictable play calling for the past 5 yrs.

  • pdreb

    Patrick, Banks played on a bum knee the last six games. Yes, Wallace and Moncrief shredded him as well as Whitley, but Banks was about 75%.You might remember he was carted off the field against Northwestern. Mullen said at the time it was a “laceration” which turned out to be a lie.