October 15, 2012

Still something to prove

It was not too long ago that Mississippi State would have celebrated the simple fact of achieving its sixth win to become bowl eligible.

But with the Bulldogs off to a 6-0 start already, just reaching a bowl game is not the only goal remaining on the table. MSU kept its unblemished record intact with a 41-31 win over Tennessee in Starkville Saturday night in front of a national television audience.

"I think we have some good players on our team and all they heard last week was how Tyler Bray was the best quarterback on the field and these receivers are the utmost top NFL receivers," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "We have a good quarterback and have some pretty good receivers and good guys in the secondary. We challenged them all week and they wanted to go out there and prove themselves that we're not a half bad team and we have some talent ourselves."

The Bulldogs, now ranked 15th, rolled up 450 yards of offense including 293 yards and 27 points in the first half alone.

"I loved how hard our kids played," Mullen said. "I thought they played really well. We knew we'd be in a four quarter battle and our kids played well for four quarters on all three phases of the game. There's always going to be some ups and downs and as a mature team I thought we handled those ups and downs very well to finish the game off and make the plays we needed to make."

Barely clinging to a 34-31 lead and 5:22 still to play in the game, State quarterback Tyler Russell directed a 12-play, 75 yard drive that chewed up all but nine seconds of the clock. Russell connected with tight end Malcolm Johnson on an one-handed snag in the back of the end zone facing fourth-and-goal from the nine yard line to seal the victory.

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