Ed Orgeron never won in Starkville when he coached up the road at Ole Miss. Despite leading 12th-ranked LSU in his second go-around in town on Saturday night, the win column remained blank for the Tigers’ head coach.
Mississippi State announced they will be a team to take seriously in the SEC race behind No. 1 Alabama with an emphatic and stunning 37-7 victory over their division rivals to set off the rings of cowbells that could be heard two states over.
Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was not surprisingly the triggerman leading the way for the Bulldogs, using his legs to weave through a normally stout front and hitting big plays over the top right afterward. The — dare we say it? — budding Heisman dark horse finished the game with 180 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns while also finding the end zone twice on the ground with his 88 yards rushing. His running mate in the backfield was nearly as good in the win as tailback Aeris Williams ran for 146 yards and fought for every inch if he didn’t burst into the open field.
LSU’s biggest issue was the same ol’, same ol’. Their offense sputtered behind quarterback Danny Etling and managed just 270 yards all told. Tailback Derrius Guice finished with just 76 yards and was largely ignored in the second half. The Tigers defense was also to blame after starting off the season in impressive fashion during non-conference play. The biggest obstacle might have been themselves — two starters were ejected for targeting in the second half and a third along the very thin defensive line left the field with an injury. That’s one way a team gives up 6.5 yards per play and allows their unranked opponent to score five times in the red zone.
Head coach Dan Mullen has pulled off several remarkable victories during his time leading MSU and the latest to keep his opposite number winless in StarkVegas was certainly one of the sweetest. Is it enough to make the Bulldogs a serious threat with heavyweight Alabama in the SEC West? We’ll find out soon enough as their schedule doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Georgia up next. For tonight though, it was all about celebrating a win and clanking that cow bell.