Vick Ballard had 166 yards in the season opener against Memphis. He followed that up with 135 yards at Auburn. He scratched and clawed the rest of the year to get over 1,000 yards after the Egg Bowl. But back on fresh legs, Ballard goes for a career-high 180 yards vs. Wake Forest in only 14 carries and walks away with the MVP award. He did fumble in the 1st half, but quickly redeemed himself with a 60 yard touchdown run on the next series. The best run, though, was the electrifying 72 yard touchdown early in the 4th quarter. Both of the runs were the longest in MSU bowl history.
After shaking off the cobwebs in the first couple of series, the Dawgs showed they were clearly the better team. Four turnovers compared to Wake’s zero (although Wade Bonner missed two opportunities for an INT) cost MSU field position, a Demon Deacon’s touchdown, and a missed opportunity for an easy field goal attempt just before halftime. But the defense collected six sacks – the most since tallying seven vs. Florida in 2000, and was in Tanner Price’s face all night.
Before Ballard’s amazing run, Fletcher Cox’s blocked field goal in the 2nd quarter was the play of the game. He destroyed the left guard to block the 5th kick of his career, in what might be his statement play to NFL scouts. It was a huge momentum shift as State scored a touchdown two plays later.
The announced attendance was 55,208…and an estimated 40,000 were in maroon. The game was as close as Vegas thought, but perhaps closer than it should have been. Derek DePasquale missed his first extra point of the year which could have been costly as Wake Forest had the ball with 2 minutes to play. But only the gamblers lost out because on that. Great win for State. A winning season at 7-6, and two trophies in one year again!