Rough loss to Kentucky humbles No. 23 Mississippi State

The 23rd-ranked Bulldogs and their fan base have been looking forward to Saturday’s game against Florida for several months.

Posted: Sep 26, 2018 3:25 PM

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State suddenly has a lot bigger problems than former coach Dan Mullen coming to town.

The 23rd-ranked Bulldogs and their fan base have been looking forward to Saturday’s game against Florida for several months, ever since Mullen left Starkville after nine seasons to become the Gators’ head coach. But instead of going into the weekend undefeated Mississippi State is smarting after a 28-7 road loss to Kentucky .

The setback certainly put a damper on first-year coach Joe Moorhead’s honeymoon in Starkville. And he will certainly face more difficult questions if he can’t beat the man he replaced on Saturday.

“We need to handle adversity, which we’re now forced to confront with this one loss,” Moorhead said. “We can’t let the same game beat us twice, so we can’t let the ramifications or collateral damage of this Kentucky game affect us in the Florida game or moving forward.”

Mississippi State (3-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) struggled against Kentucky, especially on offense and with penalties. The Bulldogs have been one of the SEC’s best rushing teams the past few seasons, but were held to just 56 yards on the ground on 28 carries Saturday.

The lack of an effective run game was surprising, but maybe the most frustrating thing for Moorhead was how his veteran team lost its composure on the road in Lexington. The Bulldogs were called for 16 penalties, including multiple false starts and unsportsmanlike conducts.

“I think you can exert maximum effort and do the things that are necessary to be successful on every play without losing your head and being hot-tempered,” Moorhead said. “There’s a difference between playing hard and picking up the ball and throwing it at somebody, or playing hard and pushing somebody after the snap. That’s not toughness.”

Mississippi State’s poor running game revealed a familiar problem over the past few seasons. If the Bulldogs can’t run the ball, the passing game can’t save them. Senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was just 16 of 32 passing for 145 yards and an interception.

Mississippi State struggled to stop Kentucky’s star linebacker Josh Allen, who caused havoc in the Bulldogs’ backfield the entire game.

“You hear the term don’t let the game-wreckers wreck the game, and the kid to his credit played a great game,” Moorhead said. “We have to do better. I have to do better.”

One positive for Mississippi State is that its goals for the season all remain intact. Since Kentucky plays in the Eastern Division, the Bulldogs still control their own destiny in the Western Division as they continue to navigate the SEC gauntlet.

Moorhead pointed to his experience as offensive coordinator at Penn State in 2016 as proof that one — of even a few — bad games don’t have to ruin a season. The Nittany Lions started that year with a 1-2 record before winning nine straight games, including the Big 10 Championship, and advancing to the Rose Bowl.

“One loss won’t define this season. One loss won’t define this team,” Moorhead said. “I promise you this, we are working tirelessly, and we are going to get this freaking thing right.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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