Now that the season is over, we take a look back at each game and how it played out.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs were coming off of a 34-16 win over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. The LSU Tigers entered the second game of the season without a win or a loss. If you don’t remember, the Tigers had their game get cancelled after torrential rain and lightning forced both teams off the field and could not be played about halfway through the first quarter.
The cancellation of LSU’s game with McNeese State led to the biggest amount of intrigue for the week 2 tilt. Would not really having any significant playing time hurt the Tigers or the Bulldogs more? And how was Mississippi State going to slow down LSU’s Leonard Fournette?
Key Stats and Final Score
- Mississippi State Yards
- Passing: 335
- Rushing: 43
- LSU Yards
- Passing: 71
- Rushing: 266
- Mississippi State Stand Out Performances
- Dak Prescott: 34/52, 335 Yards Passing, 1 Touchdown
- De’Runnya Wilson: 8 Receptions, 86 yards, 1 Touchdown
- LSU Stand Out Performances
- Brandon Harris: 9/14, 71 Yards Passing
- Leonard Fournette: 28 Carries for 159 Yards, 3 Touchdowns
- Final Score: LSU 21, Mississippi State 19
What we thought at the time
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When this game was over, a lot of Mississippi State fans walked away from it mostly just asking, “What if?” This was the first of many games where Manny Diaz and his defense got off to a really slow start, made some adjustments, and then played really well from that point on. LSU scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and scored just one in the remaining three quarters.
The biggest “what ifs” though revolved around a few key plays. The Bulldogs battled back and cut a 21-6 deficit to 21-19 after a Dak Prescott touchdown run. The Bulldogs would go for 2, but Prescott’s pass to a wide open Ashton Shumpert would fall incomplete. The blame really fell to both players. Prescott’s pass was far from perfect. It was behind Shumpert and made the play more difficult than it needed to be. Even though the ball was tough to catch, Shumpert still could have caught it.
The other “what if” is all about the final few plays of the game. Dak Prescott led the Bulldogs to the 29 yard line with less than 30 seconds on the clock. Mullen signaled in a play that required a receiver to go in motion, but he took to long to do so because he was tired from having exerted so much energy on the final drive. The result was a delay of game penalty which pushed the Bulldogs back to the 34. Dak Prescott tried to hit De’Runnya Wilson on the next play to get closer for a field goal attempt, but it fell incomplete.
So Dan Mullen had a decision to make. Mullen was going to kick a 51 yard field goal, but does he trot out Westin Graves or Devon Bell? Graves is far more accurate, but hasn’t show the ability to kick field goals from that range. Bell has the leg, but has never shown any ability to consistently kick field goals. He went with Bell, and Bell would miss it two times. Once when Les Miles was trying to ice him and the other time for real. We all left asking what if he had just given Graves a chance?
What we should have thought now the season is over
The offensive line was never going to be able to match up with the defensive front of LSU, but had we played this game later, Mullen might not have been so insistent on running the ball early on. LSU showed lots of holes as the calendar changed from October to November, and it was frustrating to watch the Tigers self destruct and not take advantage of it.
The one thing we found out later on was Graves wasn’t hitting that kick. Against Alabama, he had a kick from almost the exact same distance, and it fell short. It made us feel better for that part of the game, but the bungled time management by Mullen and Prescott at the end of the game still makes my stomach cringe thinking about it
The LSU game was one many Mississippi State fans thought we could win. With the offensive line issues we had, it was always going to be difficult, but this is a game Dan Mullen and company let slip away.