Before Mississippi State’s game began, if you’d told me Arkansas would be held to 275 total yards of offense, that the Razorbacks would only score 21 total points, and that MSU would force and recover two fumbles, I would’ve guaranteed that Mike Leach would have won his second game in Starkville.
All of that happened, minus Mississippi State winning, of course.
The Bulldogs outgained the Razorbacks by 125 yards of total offense, but State turned the ball over four times. K.J. Costello completed a single game record 43 passes, completing 71.7% of his passes, but he tossed three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
Mississippi State managed a measly 14 points just one week after the Bulldogs’ offense tore through the LSU Tigers. Turnovers, bad decisions, and errant passes doomed Leach, Costello, and the rest of the Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday evening in Starkville.
Though the air raid can theoretically work in the Southeastern Conference, this has been proven in Death Valley, it looks like Mississippi State still has some work to do before the air raid will work consistently against SEC foes.
Losing the turnover battle hindered MSU’s ability to move down the field. Having one of those turnovers get returned for a touchdown put Mississippi State behind the eight ball early on in this game.
But beyond just turning the ball over, there were other execution issues Mississippi State has to deal with to prevent them from happening again.
On three separate occasions in the third and fourth quarter, Mississippi State’s offense stalled out in Arkansas’ territory and was unable to come away with points..
Late in the third quarter, Mississippi State got the ball at its own 23-yard line. The Bulldogs methodically drove down into Arkansas’ side of the field. After six plays, 45 yards, and over two minutes taken off the clock, the Bulldogs lost possession at the Razorbacks’ 32-yard line.
In the fourth quarter, MSU got the ball at Arkansas’ 21-yard line thanks to a fumble. State managed to gain a grand total of eight yards on four plays and turned the ball over on downs.
State then returned a kickoff to the Razorbacks’ 30-yard line. The Bulldogs got down to Arkansas’ nine-yard line, but that was it. 27 feet away from scoring. MSU didn’t make it into the end zone. State was stopped on downs once more.
Three times late in the second half, MSU made its way into enemy territory. MSU came up short three times late in the second half.
All of these mistakes cost Mississippi State Saturday evening. These issues can be fixed, but they’ll need to be fixed pretty quickly.