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By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State's defense got a chance to show its stuff when it finally got a chance to get on the field.
In Saturday night's 31-3 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels, the Bulldog defense started the game on the sideline until there was 8:07 left in the first quarter as MSU jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but it seemed a lot longer than that to senior linebacker Brandon Wilson.
"They actually took off what 12 minutes in the first quarter there," said Wilson. "We were sitting there waiting our turn so we kept telling each other to stay loose."
Staying loose was something they seemed to do as they held the Rebels to only seven plays before they punted.Â
The Bulldog defense forcing punts seemed to be a theme in the first half, but so was tackling and forcing fumbles.Â
At halftime, MSU had held Ole Miss to only 65 yards of total offense on 28 plays and five first downs. The Rebels also fumbled three times in the first half, but only two of them were forced by the MSU defense.
Much of the reason behind the first half success could be credited to the game plan put in by MSU's defensive staff.Â
"We knew going in that we had to tackle," said Wilson. "They have a running quarterback and an SEC running back and with the drizzle we know they weren't going to go out and pass a lot. We knew we had to go in and tackle the running game."
To accomplish their goal of attacking and shutting down the run game, the Bulldogs spent a lot of time studying the Rebels.
"We watch a lot of film and knew how we could attack them," said WIlson. "We wanted to be great blitzers and during the week of preparation we did that and it showed today."
In the second half, MSU head coach Dan Mullen said the defense and the entire team got a little sloppy, and saw some missed tackles that could have resulted in more yardage for the Rebels. However, the Bulldog defense was swarming to the ball on every single play.
"Overall, I think our guys played well, played hard and we ran to the ball," said Mullen. "To win big games, you have to have 11 guys running to the ball and we did that well and got a lot of guys to the ball on defense."
At the end of the game, the back up defense was in the game, and the Rebels picked up 64 yards against the second team. They also had a chance to put one in the end zone and the call on the field said that they had done just that. However, after a review the play was overturned.Â
Ole Miss tried for the end zone again on the final play of the game by running with quarterback Barry Brunetti, but MSU's Jay Hughes plowed him at the 3-yard line, to the delight of Wilson.
"It means a lot," said Wilson. "With our second defense going in and shutting them down on the 3-yard line, it's something good to see."
The Bulldog defense held the Rebels to 202 yards of total offense on 64 plays and only allowed three points in the 31-3 win. Cameron Lawrence led the Bulldogs with 14 tackles, Followed by Deontae Skinner with nine, and MSU gets to hold on to the Golden Egg Trophy one more year thanks to a big night from the defense.