Mississippi State won in the state of Arkansas for the first time in school history and snapped a three-game skid to keep its bowl hopes alive.
Sophomore Josh Robinson rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries in the second half, giving the Bulldogs their first running back to eclipse the 100-yard plateau this season. Robinson was also the lead blocker on the game-winning touchdown run.
Devon Bell missed a 42-yard field goal at the end of regulation and also had a 28-yarder blocked in the third quarter.
Derrick Milton got his first opportunity to carry the football since Sept. 21 against Troy but fumbled his second snap at the goal line which could have given MSU the lead just before halftime.
Quarterback Tyler Russell and running back LaDarius Perkins both had to leave the game due to injury and did not return putting their status for this week’s Egg Bowl in question.
Keys to Victory
(Reviewing the scouting report from our GameDay preview)
1. Help Williams out
Naming a starting QB was a game-time decision on Saturday. Williams came close to making his first career start but it was determined Russell was healthy enough to go following pregame warm-ups.
Williams came in for the second series and was well into the flow of the game after Russell went down late in regulation.
2. Run the football
With leading rusher Dak Prescott sidelined for a second straight week, it was imperative for another back to fulfill that role in the offense. Six players carried the ball for the Bulldogs, led by Robinson’s second-half performance.
3. Solid special teams
Special teams had its moments such as Denico Autry staying home and sniffing out an Arkansas fake punt attempt or true freshman Tolando Cleveland forcing a fumble on a kickoff just before the half.
A 13-mile per hour wind did little to help the kicking game.
S Nickoe Whitley led the team with 10 tackles, but it was his forced fumble and recovery with the defense’s back to the wall in the fourth quarter that made the biggest difference.
The fifth-year senior stripped Alex Collins of the ball at the 9-yard line going in with 5:22 remaining in regulation and the score tied.
State still has a chance to reach a bowl for a fourth straight season, which sets up more than just bragging rights the Bulldogs will be playing for in Thursday’s Egg Bowl.