Mississippi State football: Halloween massacre by Alabama

It sure was a frightening Halloween night for Mississippi State football. Thanks to a 41-0 beating by the hands of the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide, Mike Leach’s Bulldogs dropped their fourth straight game.

Mississippi State came into the game with the top-ranked defense in total yards allowed per game in the SEC but allowed the conference’s top-ranked offense to gain 499 total yards. Alabama extended its streak of scoring at least 35 points to 19 games. The Tide only punted four times and pulled some of their starters early in the fourth quarter.

Alabama’s Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Mac Jones and receiver Devonta Smith didn’t look like they were playing against a savvy SEC secondary. They looked like they were playing catch against air. Smith was stellar going for 11 receptions, 203 yards and four touchdowns. His four touchdowns tied former Alabama receiver Amari Cooper‘s school record for receiving touchdowns in a game.

The Bulldogs defense had no answer for the running game either as the Tide finished with over 200 yards rushing. Both Najee Harris and Trey Sanders finished with over 5.5 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, it was all bad news for the Mississippi State offense. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, quarterback K.J. Costello suffered what appears to be a concussion on a scramble early in the second quarter. True freshman Will Rogers finished the game as Costello did not return. Concussions hampered much of Costello’s time at Stanford.

“We’ll still checking on it,” Leach said of Costello’s status postgame. “He’s an important part of our team and we’re definitely going to look after him the best we can.”

Rogers got the most playing time he’s seen so far this season, but his performance left much to be seen. The offense was never really able to push the ball down the field, and Rogers finished with two interceptions, a pick-six by Patrick Surtain at the end of the game and another ripped away from Osirus Mitchell by linebacker Dylan Mosses in the end zone with two minutes left in the third quarter.

The interception by Mosses in the end zone seems to follow a strange trend where Mississippi State receivers have the ball ripped away out of their hands in the end zone for interceptions.

“If we don’t lead the nation in this I don’t know anyone else who could. It’s unbelievable, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Leach said on the strange interceptions.

Penalties and sloppy play haunted the Bulldogs all day. Multiple pass interferences and offensive line penalties were perfect Halloween treats for an Alabama team that didn’t need the help.

The Mississippi State offense struggled to get anything going all game and failed to score points for the second time this season. The Bulldogs didn’t earn a first down in the first quarter and finished 2-for-15 on third down. Mississippi State also garnered its fewest yards all season with only 200.

“I was proud in the way we competed,” Leach said on his team’s progress so far this season. “In the future, this would not be the standard, but as far as battling that sort of thing, I was pleased with that portion of the thing, but we have miles to go.”

What’s next?

Next week Mississippi State football returns home to Starkville to face off against the winless Vanderbilt Commodores. The game will be televised on SEC Network at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Photo courtesy of MSU Athletic Communications

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