Sometimes, You Just Have to Win


Oct 25, 2014; Lexington, KY, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs running back Josh Robinson (13) runs for a touchdown against Kentucky Wildcats cornerback Fred Tiller (3) in the first half at Commonwealth Stadium. Mississippi State defeated Kentucky 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Winning. The only thing that winning actually requires is getting more points on the scoreboard than the other team. There is no other requirement. There are no additional points given for beating a team by 33 points or 3 points. That would be a good thing for all of us to remember in light of our 45-31 win over the Kentucky Wildcats.

The game against Kentucky was the first time that Mississippi State played a game against an opponent ranked as the number 1 team in the AP and Coaches’ Polls. While it was nice to not have to play Alabama or Auburn as the top ranked team for the first time ever, it would have been more ideal to play Kentucky in front of the home crowd at Davis Wade Stadium. The game may or may not have played out differently if they had, but it would have given the Bulldogs a little extra push when times got tough. The Bulldogs have a target on their back. It’s one that they have never had to deal with before. When you have that 1 next to your name on the scoreboard, the other team is going to give everything they have to knock you off. Kentucky gave us that on Saturday.

While it wasn’t always pretty, it was a win. Feel free to not like how it played out all you want, but the Bulldogs just did exactly what the number 1 team in the country is supposed to do. The Bulldogs didn’t play their best game. No one is going to argue that. But they never trailed in the game to a much improved team while on the road. That’s what the number 1 team is supposed to do. I know this because I have seen the Bulldogs have the same thing happen to them a countless number of times against teams that were far superior. We just did to Kentucky what so many top 5 ranked teams have done to us.

Think back to last year’s game against Alabama. Mississippi State had numerous opportunities to get on the board and put pressure on the Crimson Tide. The Tide just seemed to make the plays when they had to. That’s what State did yesterday. Find a way to make a play when you have to.

No one is going to deny that Dak had an off day yesterday. But look at what he did on his “off” day. He still completed 55% of his passes with a touchdown and an interceptions and threw for 216 yards. He carried the ball 18 times for 88 yards and 2 additional touchdowns. That used to be a tremendous day for a quarterback at Mississippi State. Now, you can easily argue that his passes were off target, and he made some questionable decisions, but he still made some plays in that game.

But another sign that this team has grown up is that when your Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback is having a game where he isn’t playing his best, someone else steps up. And Josh Robinson stepped up. The spotlight was on the Bulldogs and Dak was struggling, so Robinson ran wild over the Wildcats. He ran the ball 23 times for 198 yards, a career high and 2 touchdowns. The second touchdown was an impressive 73 yard jaunt that might have sewn up SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the bowling ball.

And while Dak didn’t play his best, it was the defense that had the worst day. There has been a lot of talk about just how good or bad the Mississippi State defense is, but the defense unquestionably struggled on Saturday. They still have a habit of giving up big plays, and they still seem to struggle with putting the final nail in the coffin of opponents. The Bulldogs would get up 2 possessions and the Wildcats would always have an answer. So as bad as it was to watch the defense struggle, it was nice to see the offense pick them up.

The Bulldogs won on Saturday. The Bulldogs got to 7-0 for only the third time in school history. They didn’t play as well as they could. But they still won. Try to remember that this week.