The Bulldogs sold out their 31st consecutive game at Davis Wade Stadium and set a new attendance record despite the rainy conditions. MSU was able to avoid injury in its 2014 debut and amassed 550 yards of offense while scoring seven touchdowns.
The Bulldogs defense gave up just 71 yards rushing and pitched a shutout for the first time since the 1999 season.
After scoring on its opening drive, State turned the ball over on downs at the goal line, missed a field goal and punted twice on its next four possessions despite getting the ball in good field position each of those drives. The Bulldogs were just 1-of-4 on red zone opportunities.
Sophomore running back Ashton Shumpert did not play while serving a one-game suspension due to a violation of team rules.
Keys to Victory
(Reviewing the scouting report from our GameDay preview)
1. Get off to a strong start
Mississippi State marched 87 yards and scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to De’Runnya Wilson on the opening drive. The Bulldogs’ defense then created a turnover on USM’s third play when Preston Smith picked off Nick Mullens and returned it to the 4.
2. Unload the benches
A total of 71 players saw action against Southern Miss including 13 making their MSU debuts. The Bulldogs had six players rush the ball, 10 catch passes and 29 record at least one tackle.
3. Settle on a kicker
State alternated both walk-ons Evan Sobiesk and Westin Graves throughout the game. Sobiesk kicked four extra points and Graves converted three. Graves missed the only field goal chance badly from 40-yards out in the first quarter.
DE Preston Smith. His two assisted tackles may not sound like much, but no player was as disruptive on the Bulldogs’ defense. Smith lived in the Southern Miss backfield.
Although his sack was overturned by a facemask penalty, the 6-foot-6, 270-pound senior had an interception and also blocked a field goal, resulting in a 70-yard touchdown return by Jay Hughes.
Mississippi State handled its business against a vastly inferior opponent. The Bulldogs have two more games to tune things up within their new no-huddle offense before conference play begins.
MSU’s defense played as advertised and although Dak Prescott is receiving a lot of the national publicity, it’s the defense that is the team’s foundation.