Across the (By)Line: Mississippi State Bulldogs


Mississippi State Bulldogs running back J.J. Jernighan (32) runs the ball during the Mississippi State vs. Arkansas football game on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. Photo provided by Landon Scheel | The Reflector

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

The “Across the (By)Line” series gives Kentucky football fans an in-depth look at their opponent for this week — from the mind of the opposing school’s sports editor.

This week: The Reflector, Dylan Flippo, Mississippi State

The Bulldogs have looked absolutely on fire in their last two SEC matches. What changed?

The major change we have seen from the Bulldogs over the last three or four weeks has been the team’s consistency. That was a major factor that Mike Leach spoke on after the LSU game. MSU has so much talent and they are all so explosive, but none of that matters if you can’t play consistent football. The MSU offensive line has looked dramatically improved and are giving Will Rogers all the time he needs to find one of his talented wideouts. Not to mention, the rushing attack for the Bulldogs is now another factor to add into the mix.

It’s been a pattern of the Kentucky-Mississippi State series that the home team has won the last seven showdowns. Do you think that’s on Mike Leach’s mind heading into this Saturday?

Yes and no; Leach and his squad know how important this game is, especially traveling to a hostile environment at night. It’s been a few weeks since MSU has traveled to a SEC environment, but I think during that time this team is more mature and improved compared to the LSU game. The Bulldogs can’t look ahead to next week’s matchup against Alabama, they must focus on what they can control this week.

Will Rogers is just such an unbelievable talent. How impressed have you been with him this season and what do you expect this weekend?

What more can you say about Will Rogers? He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, and the argument can be made that he’s one of the best in the country. I think the narrative about the statistics he puts up and that he can only put-up big numbers because of the offensive system is so far from the truth. Yes, it’s a pass heavy system. Yes, Will puts up numbers, but, to put up these numbers and be successful, you must be talented throwing the football and being comfortable in the pocket. One thing that’s stuck out this season is Will’s mobility in the pocket. He trusts his offensive line and his wideouts and is making unbelievable plays in the process.

What do you predict will happen on Saturday?

I think this game will start closely contested, but I feel the Bulldogs have too much momentum going for them. Two back-to-back huge wins against Texas A&M and Arkansas in dominating fashion boosts a team’s confidence. I know most MSU fans and probably the team too are kicking themselves for losing to LSU, but the Bulldogs still can control their own destiny. Look for MSU to start off slow but find their rhythm and win big.

Score prediction: MSU 38 Kentucky 20.