By John Galatas, The Sports Xchange
STARKVILLE, Miss.- The Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-0, 3-0 SEC) used 446 yards of total offense to earn a homecoming victory over Middle Tennessee State 45-3.
With the win, the Dogs are now off to its second-best start in school history, behind the 1999 squad which started 8-0.
MSU running back LaDarius Perkins put the game out of reach with a career-long 64-yard touchdown run at the start of the second half to make it 17-3. Perkins tallied 125 yards rushing, and is now one of two FBS players to have a rushing touchdown in every game this season.
Later in the third quarter, MSU cornerback Johnthan Banks picked off Logan Kilgore for his 16th interception of his career. Banks is now tied for the most picks in school history and is tied for most among active FBS players.
The MSU defense allowed 305 total yards, but kept the Raiders out of the end zone and forced 2 turnovers on the night, which now puts them at a plus-16 turnover margin that leads the nation.
Following the interception, quarterback Tyler Russell found receiver Chris Smith in the end zone for the second time of the night to extend the Bulldogs' lead to 24-3. Smith recorded career highs in receptions (7) and touchdowns (2) as he had 66 yards receiving on the night, while Russell had 191 yards passing.
After a quick turnover, the Dogs struck again when Russell connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Robert Johnson, his first career touchdown catch.
With 12:38 left in the fourth quarter, MSU backup quarterback Dak Prescott gave his team a 38-3 lead on a 5-yard touchdown run, his third rushing score of the year.
The Bulldogs struck first on the scoreboard as they took the opening drive 74 yards, capped when Tyler Russell found Chris Smith on a 4 yard touchdown pass. On MSU's ensuing drive, Devon Bell made his 9th field goal of the year on a 32-yard field goal to extend the Bulldog lead to 10-0.
Middle Tennessee found an opportunity on MSU's next drive midway through the second quarter when the Dogs missed a 35-yard field goal, and the Blue Raiders responded with a 32-yard field goal from Carlos Lopez to cut the lead to 10-3 before halftime.
NOTES: MSU entered the game tied for its second-best start in school history, and tied for the nation's third longest winning streak (8) ... The Bulldogs lead the series 4-0 which began in 1999 ... Middle Tennessee leading rusher Benjamin Cunningham is out for the season with a knee injury ... With his first carry of the night, MSU running back LaDarius Perkins broke the 600-yard mark on the season ... Chris Smith's touchdown reception in the first quarter was his first touchdown catch of the year ... MSU's fumble in the second quarter only the third fumble lost by the Dogs this season.