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.

Confirmed Cases: 15523

Reported Deaths: 734
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds100625
Lauderdale73862
Madison72423
Scott65012
Neshoba64639
Jones62928
Forrest56438
DeSoto5427
Rankin4398
Holmes42928
Leake42712
Copiah3124
Jackson30813
Attala29817
Yazoo2814
Newton2714
Leflore26431
Lincoln26329
Harrison2587
Monroe25725
Oktibbeha23912
Lamar2385
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Wayne2041
Pike20311
Adams19915
Noxubee1866
Washington1787
Warren17310
Covington1652
Jasper1634
Bolivar16211
Lee1536
Smith15211
Kemper14411
Clarke14418
Lafayette1364
Chickasaw13512
Coahoma1254
Carroll11711
Winston1171
Marion1159
Clay1124
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Tate941
Grenada943
Yalobusha935
Hancock9111
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Montgomery851
Sunflower843
Union835
Marshall833
Jefferson Davis773
Tippah7311
Panola713
Webster692
Calhoun654
Amite641
Humphreys607
Walthall560
Tunica553
Prentiss533
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Pontotoc353
Quitman330
Tishomingo320
Stone300
Franklin292
Tallahatchie271
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene131
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18018

Reported Deaths: 644
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2239116
Jefferson1837102
Montgomery171040
Tuscaloosa78315
Marshall6939
Franklin5567
Lee54833
Shelby51720
Tallapoosa42765
Butler41118
Chambers35525
Walker3542
Elmore3548
Madison3394
Baldwin2909
Morgan2801
Dallas2723
Etowah25711
DeKalb2483
Lowndes24612
Coffee2361
Sumter2247
Autauga2214
Houston2204
Bullock2095
Pike2030
Colbert1842
Hale1739
Russell1710
Marengo1706
Barbour1671
Lauderdale1642
Calhoun1603
Choctaw1538
Wilcox1487
Clarke1442
Cullman1430
Randolph1277
St. Clair1231
Marion12211
Pickens1164
Dale1150
Talladega1135
Limestone1060
Chilton1011
Greene944
Winston900
Macon824
Henry802
Covington801
Jackson782
Crenshaw753
Bibb751
Washington706
Escambia633
Blount621
Lawrence500
Geneva430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Monroe402
Perry390
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Unassigned00
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