STARKVILLE — Mike Leach opened his postgame press convention by flicking away an insect on the desk in entrance of him.
Mississippi State handled Tennessee State in a lot the identical style Saturday.
Will Rogers threw 5 landing passes because the Bulldogs (7-4, 4-3 Southeastern Convention) romped over the Tigers (5-6, 3-3 Ohio Valley) by a rating of 55-10 at Davis Wade Stadium.
“I feel it was form of a tricky time to play us and never such a foul time to play them,” Leach mentioned.
Austin Williams caught three landing passes from Rogers, who completed 28 of 34 for 391 yards and 5 scores. Rogers additionally hit Makai Polk and Malik Heath for touchdowns.
The sophomore quarterback broke Dak Prescott’s single-season data for passing touchdowns and passing yards on his first and second drives within the first quarter.
“Anytime to have your identify in the identical firm as Dak Prescott, it’s fairly unimaginable,” Rogers mentioned. “I by no means actually imagined that will occur.”
Rogers’ 21-yard toss to Williams to cap a robust opening drive was the sophomore signal-caller’s thirtieth landing of the yr, whereas an 8-yard go to Jamire Calvin on the second collection pushed him over the three,793 passing yards Prescott posted in 2015. Rogers completed the sport with 4,113 yards with one regular-season recreation and a bowl recreation nonetheless to go.
He threw six touchdowns to no interceptions final week at Auburn to guide the Bulldogs to a 25-point comeback. He owns 34 landing passes and eight interceptions this yr.
Rogers had three touchdowns of 30 yards or extra — a 30-yard toss to Williams, a 56-yard catch-and-run rating by Heath and a 50-yard deep shot to Polk. Williams’ first three catches of the sport have been all landing grabs.
“It felt superior,” Williams mentioned. “It simply labored out form of that method right this moment. I had a few alternatives. Will threw some actually good balls.”
Polk completed with 9 catches for 110 yards in an offensive explosion for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs totaled 600 yards, racked up 23 first downs and averaged 9.8 yards per play.
Tennessee State, in the meantime, couldn’t get something occurring offense for a lot of its season finale. The Tigers obtained on the scoreboard with a 43-yard discipline aim by James Lowery within the fourth quarter after being shut out for greater than 48 minutes.
Micheal Mitchell had a 5-yard landing run with 3:03 left for TSU.
However that was all in opposition to the Bulldogs’ reserves on protection. Defensive sort out Nathan Pickering, who began over Cameron Younger at nostril guard, mentioned he loved watching little-used gamers take the sector Saturday.
“It’s form of annoying sitting on the market and getting a little bit stiff and all, however my boys are going on the market and different guys who haven’t been taking part in, so it’s enjoyable simply to observe,” Pickering mentioned.
Mississippi State’s protection restricted the Tigers to 205 complete yards, sacked a pair of quarterbacks 4 occasions in all and racked up a whopping 12 tackles for loss. Pickering had two sacks and two TFLs, whereas Tyrus Wheat had the opposite two sacks and blew up three performs for a loss.
Tennessee State began Chayil Garnett at quarterback rather than the injured Geremy Hickbottom, however Garnett was pulled after going 10 of 16 for simply 42 yards. Deveon Bryant completed 9 of 11 for 128 yards.
Fifty-five of these yards got here on a deep ball to Cam Wyche on the primary play of the fourth quarter, setting the Tigers up on the 3-yard line. However Bryant fumbled on the following play, and Mississippi State linebacker Jett Johnson recovered to protect the shutout — for one more three minutes, not less than.
It was yet one more signal the Tigers have been no match for the Bulldogs, who gained for the fourth time in 5 video games and the fifth time in seven contests. MSU began 2-2 with losses to Memphis and LSU earlier than reeling off wins in opposition to Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Auburn previous to Saturday’s recreation.
“I simply suppose we’re getting higher,” Leach mentioned. “We’re a distinct staff than we have been early within the season.”
Simply how completely different might be measured at 6:30 p.m. Thursday when Mississippi State hosts Ole Miss within the Egg Bowl rivalry recreation. The Bulldogs misplaced 31-24 final Nov. 28 in Oxford.
“It’s big,” Rogers mentioned. “It’s the largest recreation of the yr yearly.”
Theo DeRosa studies on Mississippi State sports activities for The Dispatch. Observe him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.