Coming into Saturday’s game with Auburn – All Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen had heard was his teams had not beaten anyone in the SEC West besides Mississippi since his time in Starkville and could his team actually defeat anyone else with in that division?
After a 28-10 domination of the Auburn Tigers on Saturday, it is apparent that Mullen and his football Dogs not only can beat someone else with-in the division, they can dominate them.
“I always laugh,” Mullen told reporters. “You guys think, I guess the monkey is off my back now. I view it as a bigger one just jumped on, and I hope in November we’re talking about an 800-pound gorilla jumping on my back. That’s what I want for our program.”
After nearly beating Clemson in the Georgia Dome last week, Auburn looked sluggish, slow and out classed in Starkville.
“I thought it was a very dismal performance,” head coach Gene Chizik said. “We got outplayed, and I’m going to own it. That’s the bottom line. We have to improve as a football team, and we will. That’s my job.”
The Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0) snapped a four-game losing streak to Auburn and beat its first SEC West rival outside of Mississippi under their fourth-year coach who improved to 4-12 within the division. This is also the first time the Bulldogs are 1-0 in conference play since 1999.
“We’ve talked since I’ve been here that we were going to compete for SEC championships, and I’ve talked about the road we have to take to do that,” Mullen said. “You have to win your home games, you have to win your conference opener and both of those happened for us today.”
After falling behind 10-7 on a second half kickoff return for a touchdown, the Bulldogs took control behind junior quarterback Tyler Russell and never looked back.
Russell completed 20 of 29 passes for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns en route to a 28-10 victory that could have been a lot worse.
In a game that saw the Bulldogs dominate the Tigers 388-216 on the total yards column, the Bulldogs were able to move the ball just enough at critical times and keep the Tigers at bay to take the win.
“We went out there and played defense, the offense got on the field and they put up seven,” cornerback Johnthan Banks said. “That was something we couldn’t do in the past, and now we’ve got a quarterback. We’ve always had a quarterback, but I feel like like we’ve got true quarterback, one of the best quarterbacks in the country and we have a lot of faith in Tyler and the offense to get the job done.”
Russell recorded a career-best 20 completions, which included passes to nine different players and touchdowns throws of 30, 13 and 3 yards. He became the first MSU quarterback since 2010 to throw for 200-plus yards in an SEC game.
“We need him to play like that if we want to compete for a championship this season,” Mullen said. “We need him to play like that every single week.”
Many people questioned could Russell be a legitimate starter in the SEC coming into this season but after Saturday’s performance he answered many of his critics questions about him and this team.
“We just had to respond,” Russell said.
“I think a lot of teams will stop overlooking us,” said Russell, “and start respecting us.”
About the Author
Written by Jake Wimberly
Mississippi State alum, co-founder of makeitrainsports, co-host to makeitrainsports radio on Rebel sports radio and Bulldog sports radio all on the Vsporto Network. Lover of SEC Sports, fitness and married to my best friend. Enjoy ketchup in large amounts and in search for a flying unicorn.