Mississippi State’s season has not followed the preseason plan, with a team that had big expectations in August struggling to stay above .500 in October. The Bulldogs looked like that hyped team tonight in Starkville, grabbing a 28-13 win over nationally ranked Texas A&M. Once again, the Bulldog defense was dominant, holding the Aggies to under 300 yards of offense, while the Bulldog offense finally found some success in the passing game. That success came from the play of Nick Fitzgerald, in a complete 180 from last week, as the Bulldog senior accounted for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns by himself.
Play of the game right here. pic.twitter.com/O0u0DldhaJ
— Brian Hadad (@brianhadad) October 28, 2018
MSU faced a 3rd and 20 from deep inside its own territory when Fitzgerald escaped the pocket and found Stephen Guidry wide open. Guidry did the rest, racing downfield for an 84 yard gain that set the Bulldogs up with a first and goal that led to Fitzgerald’s first rushing score of the game. MSU was close to punting it away and giving Texas A&M great field position, instead they put distance between themselves and the Aggies with this play, the longest of the season for the Bulldogs. Guidry had his best game of the year, catching 3 passes for 130 yards and a score. For Fitzgerald, it was all part of his huge comeback performance.
NICK FITZGERALD TO THE HOUSE! ? pic.twitter.com/3tV6VI1UiY
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 28, 2018
What can you say about Nick Fitzgerald. Hall of Fame WWE announcer Jim Ross would say he’s tougher than a two dollar steak. A week off possibly his worst game as a Bulldog, Fitzgerald delivers an outing that might land him SEC Offensive Player of the Week. And what can you say about the way he has dominated Texas A&M in his career? Three games, three wins and look at these numbers.
Fitz’s career vs. A&M
54 carries, 375 yd, 5 TD; 44-74, 591 yd, 6 TD
By all means, go talk. https://t.co/0oCOJyHHyA
— Robbie Faulk (@robbiefaulk247) October 28, 2018
If Fitzgerald could play A&M every week, he’d have three Heismans on his mantle.
THE DEFENSE STRIKES AGAIN
BULLDOG FOOTBALL! pic.twitter.com/wFHv69eUun
— MSU Football ? (@HailStateFB) October 28, 2018
This is the best defense in the country, and I am willing to die on that hill. Mississippi State threw blitzes at Kellen Mond and the Aggies all night, and piled up 3 sacks and 7 tackles for loss as a result. The Bulldogs did give up a couple of big plays, but to hold this A&M offense that was averaging nearly 500 yards a game to under 300 just shows how dominant this group is. I honestly think this defense can contain and perhaps even slow down Alabama in two weeks time, that’s how good they are back to front. A lot of credit has to go to defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, who had a lot of scrutiny around him in the offseason. He has dialed up the right calls all season long. I imagine having that much talent helps a lot, but Shoop has been money in his first season in Starkville.
RECAP | LA Tech Defense Leads Bulldogs to 21-13 Road Win at Florida Atlantic
— LA Tech Football ? (@LATechFB) October 27, 2018
Louisiana Tech heads to Starkville for MSU’s lone remaining out of conference game. On paper, this appears to be a huge mismatch, the Louisiana Bulldogs are only averaging 28 points and 390 yards against Conference USA defenses. You have to think this will be another huge day for the maroon and white defense. On the other side of the ball, Tech has been pretty good, but facing a confident Nick Fitzgerald will be a challenge. Something to watch, will Kylin Hill be back next week? He missed tonight’s game with a lower body injury suffered against LSU. His health will be something to monitor.
WHAT IS THIS TEAM?
I can’t make predictions about this group anymore. If you told me State was going to win Friday with no Kylin Hill, Aeris Williams only getting 9 carries, and that Fitzgerald would have this kind of game, I would not have believed. As it stands, the Bulldogs did win, and now they will be favorites in three of their remaining four games. 8-4 might have seemed like a disappointment when the season started, but after all the turmoil this year, that record and a bowl berth should bring a smile to everybody in maroon’s face. It won’t be easy, Arkansas continues to play hard even in defeat and the Egg Bowl is never predictable, but the stage is set for a strong finish to what’s been an up and down season.
We’ll talk about all this and so much more this week, starting on Sunday with a victory edition of the Thunder & Lightning Podcast, then I’ll be on SportsTalk Mississippi Monday afternoon starting at 3:20 PM. I hope you will join me there, as we try and pin down what exactly this Mississippi State team and season are all about.