Thoughts on the Mississippi State Game

Great game by the Wildcats yesterday beating Mississippi State, ranked number 23 in the Coaches poll, 31-24.  Here's a recap of all the articles about the game that I found:

K-State upsets Mississippi State 31-24 for first signature win under Chris Klieman.

Malik Knowles’ kickoff return, Skylar Thompson’s TD pass propel K-State

Kansas State sits 2 defensive starters in win over Mississippi State

Read more here: https://www.kansas.com/sports/college/big-12/kansas-state/article235096517.html#storylink=cpy


Playing 'less scared' than years past, Kansas State overcomes multiple errors to beat Mississippi State

DANKE SCHOEN Kansas State escapes with 31-24 road victory against Mississippi State

I was expecting this one to be close since Vegas put a seven to nine point spread on the game depending on when you looked during the week.  And it was close throughout.

The stats kind of favored Mississippi State in this one.  Mississippi State out-gained K-State 352-269 in total yards and 201-146 on the ground.  They also had the ball six minutes more than K-State, 33:05 to 26:55.

Here are some of the key plays of the game from my perspective.

First quarter

K-State drove down the field on their first possession and had a 4th and one on the Mississippi State 20 yard line.  Chris Klieman decided to go for it and K-State ran a play right up the middle and got stuffed.  I was pretty indifferent on the call to go for it, but I probably would have kicked a field goal to go up 3-0 on the road.  I didn't have a huge problem with the call because K-State had established the running game early and proved that they were able to move the ball on the Mississippi State defense.

On the ensuing drive by Mississippi State on 2nd and 8, they ran a play to the right for six yards and the MSU running back was thrown down by Wayne Jones by the shoulder pads when he was clearly out of bounds.  This resulted in a 15 yard penalty, which gave Mississippi State a first down.  Luckily the mistake did not cost the Cats too much because Kyle Ball sacked the quarterback on the next play.

Mississippi State gained a first down and seemed to be driving, but Denzel Goolsby intercepted a pass and returned it to the K-State 47 yard line.  K-State took advantage of the field position and drove down to the 16 yard line before the drive stalled and this time they kicked a field goal on 4th and 2 to to up 3-0.

Second quarter

K-State held Mississippi State to a three and out on defense.  On K-State's next possession they drove down the field with a key play being a pass of 24 yards to Landry Weber on 3rd and 12.  The drive was capped off by a seven yard touchdown run by Jordan Brown to to up 10-0.  The K-State offensive line was opening up a lot of holes for the running backs to run through, basically dominating the line of scrimmage at this point in the game.

K-State forced Mississippi State to a three and out and a punt from their own 16 yard line on their next possession.  This would have given K-State the ball in great field position and a chance to really put the game away, but the punt was muffed by Jordan Brown and recovered by Mississippi State, giving them the ball at their own 49 yard line.  They marched down the field and scored a touchdown, cutting the lead to 10-7.

K-State went three and out and had to punt.  Mississippi State took possession and quarterback Tommy Stevens scrambled on 3rd and 12 and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Daniel Green of K-State, giving K-State the ball at the Mississippi State 30 yard line.  K-State drove down and scored a touchdown on a one yard quarterback sneak by Skylar Thompson to go up 17-7 with 46 seconds left in the half.

Klieman decided to pooch the kickoff, giving Mississippi State the ball on the 34 yard line.  This was a decision I disagreed with, but it ended up not being the reason Mississippi State scored a touchdown at the end of the half.  On the first play, Wayne Jones hit a sliding Tommy Stevens in the head and was called for a 15 yard penalty.  This was the second 15 yard penalty called against Jones in the first half.  It gave Mississippi State the yardage they needed to try to get in field goal range or go for a touchdown, which they did.  Before the drive started, the announcers even said that they thought Mississippi State would possibly take a knee and go into halftime.  Instead, they got a 35 yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 17-14 at halftime.

Third quarter

It was rumored at halftime that Skylar Thompson had a thumb problem and that it might be dislocated.  We found out after the game that he was just cramping up and it was fine.  That was quite a relief.

K-State received the second half kickoff and had to punt.  On Mississippi State's drive on 3rd and nine, AJ Parker intercepted Stevens and ran it back to about the 20 yard line but got crushed by a Mississippi State offensive lineman and fumbled it back to them.  It was a horrible pass by Stevens and MSU pulled him for a true freshman quarterback, Garrett Shrader.  Shrader led them right down the field for a touchdown and a 21-17 lead.

At this point of the game I was pretty nervous.  A three and out by K-State gave the ball back to Mississippi State, who muffed the punt catch but recovered.  K-State forced Mississippi State to punt, but Seth Porter muffed the punt, giving Mississippi State the ball back at their own 45 yard line.  Porter had no business trying to catch this punt, but I guess he was trying to make a play.  Anyway, Mississippi State drove down the field to kick a field goal and go up 24-17.  Holding them to a field goal and keeping the game within seven at this point was huge.

Fourth quarter

The kickoff after Mississippi State went up 24-17 was the play of the game and turned the momentum of the game into K-State's favor once again.  Malik Knowles caught the kickoff at the goal line, stutter stepped, making everyone watching nervous, and returned the kick for a 100 yard touchdown, tying the game at 24.  Huge play.

Mississippi State went three and out and K-State had to punt on their next possession as well, but was able to pin Mississippi State back on their own eight yard line.  The K-State defense held MSU to a three and out (AGAIN) and this time fair caught the punt and every K-State fan in the country stood up and cheered.  Three muffed punts is enough for one season and it happened to them three times in one game.

Getting the ball near the 50 yard line allowed K-State to drive down the field for the go ahead touchdown on a 15 yard touchdown pass from Skylar Thompson to Dalton Schoen.  31-24 Kansas State, which would be the final score.

The K-State defense held again, but it wasn't without drama.  Mississippi State drove down to the K-State 30 yard line and on a 4th and 16 Shrader scrambled and was tackled high into the air, helicopter style, and landed one yard short of the first down.

K-State took possession and ran a lot of the clock before punting and sealing the victory with another defensive stand.

This was a great victory for K-State and the Big 12.  I am definitely enjoying the ride with Klieman at the helm.  I do believe he is benefiting from what Snyder instilled in the players and what the new staff is bringing to the table.  I'm not going to pass judgement on Klieman for quite a while, but I definitely like what I am seeing so far.  There were a lot of correctable mistakes in this one, but a solid victory nonetheless.  Now K-State has two weeks to prepare for a road game at Oklahoma State.

What do you all think?

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