By LEE ADAMS
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are trying to take their football program to the next level.
MSU football coach Dan Mullen says the fans have done their part and hopes it will stay that way as he and his staff keep trying to build.
In front of the third largest and arguably the most electric crowd in Davis Wade Stadium history, the No. 25 Bulldogs and No. 3 Tigers put on quite a defensive showdown. The 56,924 fans who attended Thursday night's Southeastern Conference showdown marked the 11th consecutive sellout for MSU.
"Our fans created an unbelievable atmosphere," Mullen said. "We are trying to create a championship culture and we are selling out games and creating a home field advantage."
The defensive war that took place on the field was won by LSU, but State's defense was able to hold them to only one touchdown. Allowing LSU to score only 19 points was the third time since 1980 that the Bulldogs had held the Tigers to a one touchdown performance.
That one touchdown didn't come until the fourth quarter, so it was a battle of the field goal units for most of the game. At halftime, LSU held a 6-3 lead and the six first half points were the least allowed by MSU to and SEC West team since they held Auburn to three in 2008. MSU's defense may have held the Tigers to two field goals in the first half, but linebacker Cameron Lawrence still thinks they should be better.
“We played good as a defense, but we are trying to play great around here," Lawrence said. "We are trying to become great.”
Defensive coordinator Chris Wilson never feels that the defense has a lack of effort, but it's just an execution problem. He was not disappointed in his unit on Thursday night.
"I feel like our guys went out there and competed and we were a few plays away from being in the football game," Wilson said. "It's disappointing to not win the football game but I feel good going into the next few weeks that we can beat anybody we play."
Mullen thought the defense played physical but gave up too many "easy throws" but thinks the Bulldogs played "solid" overall.
Senior safety Charles Mitchell led the Bulldogs a career high 16 tackles against LSU.
"I've been impressed with Charles as a player and a leader," said Wilson. "He's the guy who kept us in this ballgame, and I was impressed with his production."
The past five days have been tough for the Bulldogs as they fell just short in back-to-back games to talent SEC opponents. As they try to take their game to the next level, Mullen is excited about what that next level is.
"We are going to continue to grind until we get to that next level," said Mullen ."It's amazing what that next step is in the SEC, because it's probably a national championship. In this league you skip a step because if you win the SEC West, you're the best team in the country."
Even after Thursday night's loss, Mullen tried to reassure MSU fans that they will reach that next level.
"We will win a SEC and we will win a national championship here at Mississippi State," said Mullen. "It might be this year, who knows, it might be be next year, might be the following year, it might take us 15 years but we will win a championship for the people of Mississippi, and we all stay on the same page of grinding for our state and working hard to get that done."
The Bulldogs championship dreams are very grim as they are 1-2 this year, but after playing the first three games in 15 days, the Bulldogs get some well deserved time off this weekend. However, preparation for Louisiana Tech will begin Monday afternoon.