Nick Fitzgerald had 270 total yards and three touchdowns to lead Mississippi State to 45-7 victory over Kentucky on Saturday.
Mississippi State (5-2, 2-2 SEC) dominated the game from the opening quarter and never trailed. The Bulldogs finished with 441 total yards of offense and averaged 5.9 per play.
“We still got it,” wide receiver Donald Grey said. “We’ve still got some growing to do, but we haven’t fallen all the way off.”
Fitzgerald, a junior, led all rushers with 115 yards and became just the sixth SEC quarterback to rush for over 2,000 career yards. He was also 18 of 26 passing for 155 yards and a touchdown to Jordan Thomas.
Kentucky (5-2, 2-2 SEC) managed just 260 total yards of offense and 14 first downs against one of the nation’s toughest defensive units. They trailed 17-7 at the half and crossed midfield on only three drives the entire game.
“We were able to take them out of what they wanted to do early,” head coach Dan Mullen said. “I challenged our defense to really get after the quarterback in the second half, and they really stepped up.”
Stephen Johnson was 13 of 28 for 117 yards but threw two interceptions, including an 84-yard pick-six by Gerri Green.
Kentucky’s defense was even less successful. The nation’s No. 10 rushing defense allowed a season high 282 yards on the ground.
“We knew with their rush defense they were going to want to stop the run,” Mullen said. “So we tried to come out balanced so they couldn’t load up the line. Then we could wear them down.”
Mississippi State dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 34:49.
“Even on the first series you could see, we’re moving these guys,” Fitzgerald said. “If we’re going to keep getting 3 or 4 yards a pop, we’re going to be fine.”
The Bulldogs again proved their mettle as an elite team on both sides of the ball at home. MSU has outscored its four home opponents this year 166-24 and won all four games by 25 points or more.
The Bulldogs will attempt to win their first conference road game of the season against Texas A&M in College Station.