On Saturday night, Mississippi State, behind a record-setting night from signal-caller Will Rogers, a balanced offensive attack, and a stifling defense, knocked off 12th-ranked Kentucky, 31-17. The Bulldogs improved to 5-3 and have won two straight, while the Wildcats have dropped their last two after starting 6-0.
It was a night to remember for the Maroon and White, as the 2021 national champion baseball team was recognized during the game. The Bulldogs wore the iconic M over S logo on its football helmet for the first time in school history.
Kentucky led early thanks to a Josh Ali 74-yard punt return touchdown to open the scoring. Matt Ruffalo’s 41-yard field goal extended the Wildcat lead to 10-0 with 12:14 left in the first half. From that point on, it was all Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs would score 31 unanswered points to take a commanding lead. Jo’Quavious Marks capped off a solid eight-play, 75-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to get State on the board. Dillon Johnson‘s 9-yard touchdown run a drive later gave Mississippi State its first lead late in the first half.
The second half was much more of the same. Mississippi State used more than half of the third quarter clock on its first drive out of the locker room and added a field goal to extend the lead to a touchdown. Just two plays later, Kentucky coughed up the pigskin, and Mississippi State capitalized to go up 24-10 on Johnson’s second touchdown run of the night.
Cam Young‘s interception the following Kentucky drive once again gave the offense a short field. Rogers then put the final nail in the coffin with a 25-yard strike to RaRa Thomas to give the Bulldogs a 31-10 lead.
Kentucky finally scored its first offensive touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Both teams then traded punts, and Mississippi State ran off the final 7:51 to secure another impressive win.
Will Rogers was near perfect on the night, going 36-39 for 344 yards and a touchdown. His 92.3% completion percentage set a Southeastern Conference record. Zach Arnett’s defense was on a different level, as well, holding Kentucky to just 216 yards and forcing four turnovers.
The Bulldogs now have three wins over current Top 25 teams, adding Kentucky to the previous list of Texas A&M and NC State. The Bulldogs have put together a solid résumé and will have a legit case to be ranked in Tuesday’s first College Football Playoff poll.
Even if Mississippi State isn’t ranked come Tuesday night, a win at Arkansas on Saturday will surely put the Bulldogs in the Top 25. It would also secure State’s sixth win and a 12th-straight bowl appearance.
The Bulldogs will look to continue their winning ways in Fayetteville Saturday afternoon. Revenge is on the mind after the Razorbacks came into Starkville a season ago and left a 21-14 winner. Kickoff is set for 3 PM CT on the SEC Network.