Mississippi State went into the LSU game looking like one of the best teams in the SEC and came out of it with several questions after their fourth-quarter collapse. Here is a look at the three keys as they seek to bounce back against Bowling Green.
By Steve Wright
Control Time Of Possession
At 13-0 up with less than a minute to play in the first half, Mississippi State was in great shape against LSU. The Tigers’ rallied, holding the Bulldogs’ offense in check the rest of the way as they outscored Mississippi State 31-3 over the rest of the game.
The problem was simple: Mississippi State couldn’t stay on the field. In opening wins over Memphis and Arizona, the Bulldogs had the ball for an average of 39 minutes. They also averaged 30.5 first downs. Those numbers were slashed on Saturday, with sure tackling LSU allowing little yardage after catches were made, nullifying the MSU attack. This team cannot win with 15 first downs and less than 30 minutes as a time of possession.
Get Will Rogers In His Groove
This is going to be a big game with Will Rogers. Sure, Bowling Green shocked Marshall last time out, but the Falcons tend to have one of those weird wins in them each year. Their other two games this season saw Eastern Kentucky score 59 points and UCLA scored 45 points. Both teams did the majority of their damage through the air.
Rogers thrives in these games. His jersey will stay clean as the Falcons’ don’t have an LSU-level secondary to force Rogers to hold the ball for longer than the offense is designed. Expect him to fire for at least 350 through the air.
All About The YAC
This is an offense that relies on yards after the catch. Even after the game against LSU, where the YAC was cut down dramatically by the Tigers’ speed on defense, MSU ranks third nationally in the statistic. They were No. 1 in the country in 2021 and No. 2 in 2020 under Mike Leach.
Mississippi State is at its best with quick-hitting passes. Expect to see running back Jo’quavious Marks, and wide receiver Jaden Walley add to their prolific catch totals. Mississippi State should aim to have this one written off by the middle of the third quarter.