By NEMS Daily Journal
The Bulldogs were as balanced as could be, finishing with 39 pass plays and 39 run plays. That added up to 427 total yards and 25 first downs. MSU converted10 of 18 third downs.
Defensively, State never let Kentucky gather momentum. After freshman Patrick Towles entered the game in the first half and directed an 80-yard touchdown drive, the Bulldogs forced three-and-outs on the Wildcats’ last two possessions of the half.
MSU scored only seven points in the second half and none in the fourth quarter. Even though it had a good day overall, the offense didn’t show the killer instinct that will be required against tougher foes down the line – but the defense did.
The defense allowed only 228 yards but didn’t force any turnovers. Still, MSU remains plus-12 in that category.
Keys to victory
Evaluating the keys to victory in Saturday’s GameDay section:
1. Confuse the QBs: Kentucky played two freshmen – Towles and starter Jalen Whitlow. They were a combined 15 of 27 for 144 yards and a TD.
MSU got three sacks and came up with some timely stops. That’s where the experience factor showed up. UK recovered an onside kick and a fumble in the second half but couldn’t do anything with them.
2. Start fast: This was a priority for coach Dan Mullen, and his Bulldogs opened the game with an 85-yard touchdown drive. They led 14-0 after one quarter – outgaining Kentucky 172-17 in total offense by that point – and 20-7 at halftime.
The Wildcats didn’t gain a first down until the last play of the first quarter.
3. Be consistent: While the offense hit a lull, it did enough earlier in the game to get the separation its defense needed. QB Tyler Russell missed some easy throws, but he made some tough ones and wound up 23 of 39 for 269 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.
LaDarius Perkins was steady, logging a career-high 25 carries for 110 yards.
Chad Bumphis:The senior receiver came through big in MSU’s first SEC road game of the year, with nine catches for 104 yards and a 27-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
MSU looked better than it had the previous two games against non-SEC foes, but the schedule is only going to get tougher.