MSU created five turnovers, and it shut down the potentially potent Arkansas offense in the second half. That helped State outscore the Razorbacks 28-0 after halftime.
Quarterback Tyler Russell had another fine outing, overcoming a slow start to finish 19 of 32 for 274 yards and four touchdowns. The running game got back on track, totaling 203 yards to shake off a tough three-game stretch.
MSU missed some opportunities during the first three quarters, scoring only three points off an Arkansas fumble, interception and turnover on downs. That did get turned around, with MSU scoring three consecutive touchdowns off turnovers.
The defense couldn’t do anything to slow down Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson early, as the Hogs staked a 14-7 lead.
Keys for victory Evaluating the keys to victory in Saturday’s GameDay section:
1. Communicate: The MSU secondary had gotten burned during a three-game losing streak because of communication issues. The Bulldogs had trouble covering receiver Cobi Hamilton early, but they shut him down in the second half. Coach Dan Mullen said there were “a couple of errors” in the communication department Saturday, but on the whole it was better.
2. Regain the run game: After being held to 192 yards during the three-game losing streak, State rushed for 203 against Arkansas. Tailback LaDarius Perkins, who missed the LSU game with a quad injury, led the way with 91 yards on 17 carries.
He got good help from Nick Griffin, who had a 60-yard touchdown run, and Josh Robinson (four carries, 26 yards).
3. Pressure Wilson: Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson was sacked twice, and MSU was credited with three QB hurries. He proved elusive at times, but the defensive line and linebackers did a solid job of not letting Wilson be comfortable all the time.
Good coverage downfield helped as much as anything.
MVP LaDarius Perkins: Besides his rushing totals, Perkins caught three passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns. His 13-yard TD opened the game’s scoring, and a 24-yard score gave MSU a 31-14 lead late in the third quarter.
MSU got back to doing what had worked so well during its 7-0 start: Forcing turnovers, running the ball and stepping on the gas in the second half. There should be plenty of confidence heading into the Egg Bowl.