"Big plays. That's one thing that stood out in the first half," defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said. "I think we gave up a few in the second half. I don't think, in the second half, it was going for touchdowns. But if anything, it changes field position, and that's something you have to eliminate if you want to beat a good team."
In its first seven plays of the second quarter, Mississippi State logged plays of 72, 44 and 33 yards – an average of 50 yards per play. Chris Relf had three touchdown passes, including a 36-yard screen pass to LaDarius Perkins with only 42 seconds remaining in the quarter.
"Gave them some gifts. A little too early for Christmas," senior linebacker Jonathan Cornell said. "Got to play more assignment-sound. That's the theme this whole year. Got to give them credit, they made the plays when the time presented themselves.
"But I'm really proud of our team, because we came back and fought and didn't give up. Made it close in the end. But no one remembers (the losing team)."
Bulldog quarterback Chris Relf was 9 of 15 for 180 yards in the first half alone. He also led all rushers with 69 yards on four carries. Mississippi State led Ole Miss, 21-9, at halftime.
"The situations seemed awfully familiar," Cornell said. "It's just more of a conscious thing, where you've got to make your mind up that you're not going to give up these prizes, as you like to call them."
Ole Miss allowed 498 yards of total offense to Mississippi State. It was the fifth time this season State has had at least 450 yards of total offense. Chris Relf had 354 all-purpose yards. He completed 13 of 20 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 66 yards on the ground.
LaDarius Perkins led all rushers with 98 yards on 13 carries.
"Bit us in the behind again," Jerrell Powe said of the big plays.
Ole Miss allowed 250 yards rushing to Mississippi State on 50 carries. It was the seventh time in its last eight games that Mississippi State eclipsed 200-yards rushing.
"It was the explosion plays, but it was also the fact of missed assignments," senior cornerback Jeremy McGee said. "Guys weren't doing their job on each and every play. It's just been hard for us to come out and play a consistent game for four quarters.
"It's frustrating. It was a frustrating thing to see big plays pop up, big passes. You don't like to see that as a defense. It's been our Achilles heel all year."
Bolden falls short:
Junior running back Brandon Bolden needed only 68 yards Saturday to eclipse 1,000 for the season. However, Bolden was held to just 45 on 12 carries.
"They were playing the run real good," Bolden said. "We kind of had to go to our passing game. We came back to the run eventually, hitting them with a couple of slips and screens. Just didn't do it in time."
Bolden scored one touchdown, tying the school record with Kayo Dottley, Deuce McAllister and Archie Manning for 14 rushing touchdowns in a season. Bolden now has 23 career rushing touchdowns, which is second all-time in school history.
"Honestly, I really did not pay attention to (individual statistics)," Bolden said. "I was just out there playing. I didn't even know I was close to 1,000 yards. I wasn't really paying attention to it."
Masoli finishes strong:
Senior quarterback Jeremiah Masoli concluded his only season at Ole Miss in strong fashion.
Masoli was 24 of 44 for 261 yards, one touchdown and one interception. With his 12 yards rushing, Masoli broke Norris Weese's school record for rushing yards in a single season by a quarterback. He finished the year with 543 rushing yards.
"I don't regret anything that happened this year," he said. "I'm just glad that Coach (Houston) Nutt gave me the chance again. This is my family. I just came here and did what I said I was going to do, which, if you guys remember, was just be me, be myself. It's worked out."
His final pass attempt, a fourth-and-22 with just under a minute remaining in the game, ended in a sack. The play would prove to be his last in a Rebel uniform.
"I was kind of just stuck," Masoli said of his emotions after the game. "I really didn't know what to think. That's it. That's all you can think about. Done. Over with."
Ole Miss finished with 326 yards of total offense. Masoli completed at least four passes to five different players. Bolden was the team's leading receiver with 78 yards on six receptions. Ja-Mes Logan had four receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown.
"This is a really young team," Masoli said. "One of the upsides to that is they'll be really good next year. That's how I really feel. That's what I was telling a lot of guys in there, just shaking their hands, thanking them for this season. But I was also telling them, you guys got to work hard for next season, cause there's a lot of potential in this roster."
Eighteen Ole Miss seniors played their final collegiate game against Mississippi State.
The entire senior class acted as captains for the game, though Lionel Breaux, Johnny Brown, Cornell and Powe represented Ole Miss as captains for the coin toss. Of note, Cornell tied a career high with 12 tackles in his final game. He posted six solo stops and one tackle for loss.
"I felt like I could have made more plays, done something different," Cornell said. "But, when it's all said and done, you've got to know you gave it your all. I gave it my all. I know the guys did. That's why we hung in the game and had an opportunity to win. But the ball didn't bounce our way tonight."
McGee had five total tackles and an impressive strip-fumble, which he also recovered.
"It was most definitely emotional, man, thinking about your last time walking through the tunnel, thinking about your last time being with the guys on the field. You always think about your last everything, so it was an emotional game for me," he said.