Tyler came to play Saturday and his last name wasn't Bray.
Mississippi State junior quarterback Tyler Russell had an outstanding night at Davis Wade Stadium leading his team to a 41-31 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers.
Going into the game, Tennessee signal caller Tyler Bray and his talented group of receivers received a great deal of credit for their ability and deservedly so. The Vols have put up some good numbers in the passing game this season.
Obviously as the night progressed in Starkville, it was Russell and the Bulldogs who stole the show.
The Meridian native finished the game by completing 23 of 37 pass attempts for 291 yards and a pair of touchdowns for MSU. Bray was only 13-of-24 passing for 148 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Russell started off hot in the game by collecting 199 yards passing in the first half alone. By halftime, Russell had reached the 690-yard mark with six touchdowns and no interceptions in three Southeastern Conference games.
"I came out strong in the first half and made some throws," Russell
said. "The offensive line did a great job. We did what we had to do."
Even though there were times in the second half where Russell wasn't as sharp, he still managed the game well enough to help his team enjoy success.
The throws he made to Chad Bumphis in the fourth quarter were clutch and things of beauty.
The 9-yard scoring pass with 9 seconds left in the game that Russell made to Malcolm Johnson sealed the win for the Bulldogs.
Credit has to be given to Johnson as well. This is a guy who missed the first five games of the season due to an injury and came up with a nifty toe dance in the back of the end zone for six points.
After that, all Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley could do was throw down the towel that he had been wiping his brow with the entire game. Dooley worked the game from the press box due to hip surgery last week.
It was a tremendous win for Russell and the Bulldogs. He is quickly establishing himself as a winner for MSU.
Reaching 6-0 is something the Bulldogs have not seen since the 1999 season.
If not for Russell, MSU probably doesn't reach this point undefeated and are already bowl eligible. This is the third consecutive season the Bulldogs are eligible for postseason under coach Dan Mullen's tenure.
With Russell's leadership and desire, there could be more nice moments on the way for Mississippi State before this season is done.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.
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