Mississippi State showed off a new-look offense as the Bulldogs ran for 298 yards in defeating Southeastern Louisiana 48-7 on an emotional day in Starkville, Miss.
Mississippi State averaged an SEC-worst 81.7 yards on the ground a year ago, but running back Jo'Quavious Marks ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns, while Vanderbilt transfer quarterback Mike Wright pitched in 95 yards rushing in spot duty.
The Bulldogs amassed 525 yards of offense.
After the completion of a quiet first quarter, Mike Leach's family was brought onto the field to honor the former coach who passed away last December.
They were given a rousing ovation, and the Mississippi State football team came alive immediately thereafter.
Nathaniel Watson forced and recovered a fumble on the opening play of the second quarter. Two plays later, starting quarterback Will Rogers found Marks over the middle, and Marks rumbled down to the goal line. He punched it in on the next play, staking MSU to a 10-0 lead.
The Lions cut it to 10-7 on the next drive on a beautiful play-action fake from Zachary Clement, who rotated at quarterback with Eli Sawyer.
Rogers answered, finding Creed Whittemore wide open down the left side for an easy 33-yard touchdown.
Kyle Ferrie tacked on a 49-yard field goal just before halftime for a 20-7 lead.
Late in the third quarter, the Bulldogs went up 27-7, scoring on a 5-yard Rogers to Jaden Walley touchdown.
Rogers finished with 227 yards on 20-for-29 passing.
On the first play of the fourth, John Lewis blocked a punt that Avery Sledge caught in midair and returned for an 11-yard touchdown. Later, Marks scored his second touchdown from 6 yards out and Whittemore added a 53-yard TD run.
The Bulldogs went up 3-0 in the first on a 47-yard Ferrie field goal.
—Field Level Media