SuperTalk Mississippi

MSU, Ole Miss, USM all fall in week 11

Photo courtesy of Kelly Donoho/MSU Athletics
Photo courtesy of Kelly Donoho/MSU Athletics

Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss were all on the road this weekend, and all three come back to Mississippi with losses. MSU’s offense was MIA, Ole Miss’ defense was worn down, and USM went to OT, but couldn’t get the win.

#16 Mississippi State: 0 #1 Alabama: 24
Photo by News Mississippi

It was another forgettable day on the field for the Mississippi State offense as they were blanked by the Alabama Crimson Tide 24-0.

While Nick Fitzgerald and the rest of the unit took steps forward in the wins against Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech, they failed to show that improvement on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. After they were held to just 13 yards and two punts in the first quarter, it was clear that this wasn’t their day on offense.

At the same time that the MSU offense was struggling, the Alabama offense was rolling. Two touchdown drives to open the game swung the momentum in the Tide’s favor and they wouldn’t look back. A crucial decision not to challenge a possible fumble from Alabama RB Damien Harris was a monumental moment in the game, and it came on Bama’s first drive after it appeared that Harris fumbled and MSU recovered. It was ruled that Jacobs’ knee was down, and with no challenge or review, Alabama would go on to score to open to the game.

After the game, head coach Joe Moorhead discussed why we chose not to call a timeout to give the officials more time to look it over.

“I considered challenging it, but the information I got from my guys up in the booth who saw it and had a great view of it said that the guy was down and it wasn’t going to be overturned, so I trust those guys up in the booth to get that information and they said the guy was down,” he explained.

Already down 14-0, MSU would shoot themselves in the foot right before halftime. A mishandled punt gave Alabama the ball back deep in MSU territory. Three plays later, Tua Tagovailoa found Josh Jacobs for a 14 yard TD. It’s already difficult to stop Alabama, but giving the top-ranked team in the nation extra possessions will never work out in your favor.

The Bulldogs had a chance to grab points before the half, but a questionable block in the back call negated a TD, and a missed field goal sent MSU into the locker room down 21-0.

In the second half, the Mississippi State defense flexed their muscle and showed that they can compete with the Tide. Willie Gay Jr. picked off Tagovailoa, and the MSU defense put heavy pressure on the Heisman frontrunner. Tagovailoa would not finish the game after injuring his quad, and the Alabama offense mustered just a FG in the entire second half.

While the defense was playing lights out, the offense was still stuck in neutral. The offense’s longest drive of the second half lasted just 6 plays. The running game is the key to success for MSU and neither Kylin Hill or Aeris Williams made an impact. Fitzgerald’s inability to push the ball downfield was evident, and the result was a shutout. Alabama was able to disrupt MSU’s offense every step of the way, but missed opportunities were also present throughout the afternoon.

“We’re not going to beat anybody by scoring zero points,” Moorhead said. “Had some opportunities throughout the game, but too many miscues. I mean guys open, balls being snapped early, but when you’re not running it well and you’re not moving it in the air and you’re not creating explosive plays against a team like this, you give yourself a hard time to win.”

Moorhead did praise the defensive effort after the loss. The unit held Alabama to just 305 yards and 24 points, both of which are season lows for the Tide. Alabama had gone for over 500 yards in every game this season prior to Saturday.

The good news for MSU is that they get to face Arkansas next week.

  • Scoring Summary:

  • Quick Stats:

N. Fitzgerald: 11/20 125 yards
Team Rushing: 30 carries 44 yards
AU: T. Tagovailoa: 14/21 164 yards 1 TD 1 INT

Ole Miss: 24 Texas A&M: 38

For the second straight week, an inconsistent offensive performance coupled with a worn down defense saw Ole Miss fall. Last week, the Rebels had 18 yards in the 4th quarter against South Carolina. This week, they had 31 yards in the 3rd, and they didn’t score an offensive touchdown in the second half.

The Rebels and the Aggies traded jabs in the first half, and with a 14-7 lead with 6:00 minutes left in the half, Ole Miss was on their way to extending their lead. On the A&M 15-yard line, QB Jordan Ta’amu took off on a 2nd and 2, but he had the ball ripped away from him, and the turnover led to an Aggie touchdown drive.

Tied at 14-14, the Ole Miss defense allowed the Aggies to drive the ball down the goal line to open the second half, but they’d make a play to shift the momentum for the time being. A&M QB Kellen Mond was stripped by Willie Hibbler, and Zedrick Woods would return the fumble 96-yards for a TD to give Ole Miss a 21-14 lead.

The Aggies would eventually tie the game, and add a FG to grab a 24-21 lead. The Rebels would put a drive together, but the drive stalled in the red zone. Matt Luke opted for a 22-yard FG attempt to tie the game, but Luke Logan missed it and the ball went back to the Aggies. 6 plays later, an A&M TD all but sealed Ole Miss’ fate.

Ole Miss would get a FG on their next drive, but after a failed onside kick, Trayveon Williams took off for a 46-yard TD run to give the Aggies a 38-24 lead. While the Rebel defense held up at times on Saturday, they did give up over 500 yards once again and failed to come up with stops in the 4th quarter.

Offensively, the Rebels couldn’t run the ball and an injury to Scottie Phillips in the first quarter didn’t do them any favors against the SEC’s top rushing defense. In the air, Ta’amu found success targeting A.J. Brown and Demarkus Lodge at times, but in the second half, A&M was able to limit their production. Ole Miss was 1-11 on 3rd down and couldn’t find ways to stay on the field as the game wore on, putting a tired defense back on the field.

“It was a disappointing loss, I felt like defense really played their guts out in the first half and gave us an opportunity to win,” Luke said. “Credit Texas A&M, they came in the 2nd half, especially the 3rd quarter and they were able to hold on to the ball. We couldn’t get to a rhythm offensively, give those guys credit, they made the plays that we didn’t.”

With 127 receiving yards, Brown did become the all-time career receiving yards leader at Ole Miss, while also eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving for the second straight season.

The Rebels will be in Nashville to take on Vanderbilt next Saturday.

  • Scoring Summary:

  • Quick Stats:

J. Ta’amu: 22/35 373 yards 1 TD, 1 Fumble
D. Lodge: 6 rec. 122 yards 1 TD
A&M – T. Williams: 31 car. 228 yards 1 TD

Southern Miss: 23 UAB: 26 OT
Photo courtesy of USM Athletics/Joe Harper

Southern Miss gave 8-1 UAB all they could handle, but the Golden Eagles couldn’t pick up the win in overtime.

Tate Whatley got his second straight start at QB with Jack Abraham injured, and he and the USM offense struck first. Whatley found WR Quez Watkins for a 1st quarter TD and two field goals gave USM a 13-0 lead. UAB would score on their final drive of the half with an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped with a Tyler Johnston 1-yard TD run. Johnson was starting in place of injured QB AJ Erdley.

UAB opened the second half with 10 unanswered points to grab their first lead of the game at 20-13. Early in the 4th, the USM defense came up big. Ky’el Hemby picked off Johnston, and set up a game-tying TD drive for Whatley and the offense.

Tied at 20-20 with time winding down in the 4th quarter, Ty Williams intercepted Johnston, and with a return out to the UAB 36, it looked like USM could win this one in regulation. Unfortunately for USM, that was not the case. Whatley biggest mistake of the day came as he was picked off in the end zone at the end of regulation.

USM’s first drive in the OT ended with a field goal, and UAB ended the game on a 17-yard TD run from Spencer Brown. With the win UAB clinched the Western Division of C-USA.

At 4-5, USM will have to win its final two games to become bowl eligible. They’ll face Louisiana Tech next Saturday at home. 

  • Scoring Summary:

  • Quick Stats:

T. Whatley: 16/38 160 yards 1 TD 1 INT
Team: 5 total rushing yards
Team: 8 penalties

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