JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Mississippi State Bulldogs racked up nearly 200 yards on the ground but were unable to overcome four costly turnovers in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl on Tuesday afternoon, eventually falling to Northwestern by a final score of 34-20.
After spotting the Wildcats (10-3) a 13-point lead in the early going, Mississippi State (8-5) ended the first half with 10 consecutive points to pull within three at the break. The Bulldogs’ first points were the result of a 27-yard field goal from Devon Bell, which Tyler Russell followed up with an 18-yard scoring strike to Arceto Clark just over three minutes later. After another field goal from Bell opened up the second half, MSU had pulled even with Northwestern.
From that point on, however, the Wildcats were in control.
Northwestern punched in two rushing touchdowns in the third before Venric Mark capped off the scoring with eight minutes remaining in the fourth with a 2-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach. The Wildcats racked up 358 total yards on the afternoon, including 162 on the ground, and overcame three turnovers to pick up the win.
Russell, who had only thrown six interceptions all season coming into the game, was picked off four times on the afternoon and never got into a rhythm. He finished the afternoon with 106 yards and two touchdowns, while LaDarius Perkins and Josh Robinson combined for 176 yards on 26 carries.
Clark and Malcolm Johnson each found the end zone through the air for MSU, but star wide-out Chad Bumphis was limited to just three receptions and 18 yards.
Passing – Tyler Russell, 12-for-28, 106 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT
Rushing – Josh Robinson, 7 car, 91 yards
Receiving – Arceto Clark, 3 rec, 36 yards, TD
Passing – Trevor Siemian, 12-for-21, 120 yards, INT
Rushing – Kain Colter, 12 car, 75 yards
Receiving – Dan Vitale, 7 rec, 82 yards
• Mississippi State’s loss to Northwestern put an end to a five-game bowl winning streak for the Bulldogs. The streak was tied with Rutgers for the longest active bowl win streak in the country coming into the Gator Bowl.
• Prior to Tuesday’s loss, Mississippi State had won 15 consecutive non-conference games.
• Under head coach Dan Mullen, MSU has lost 11 of 16 games in which it loses the turnover battle, and 23 of 25 games when it wins the turnover battle.