BYU saw its losing streak reach six games on Saturday afternoon as Mississippi State came away with a 35-10 win.
Nick Fitzgerald was the catalyst for the Bulldogs' offense as he recorded four touchdowns — two passing and two rushing — while putting up 241 passing yards and another 103 on the ground on just 15 carries.
He had plenty of help in the rushing attack as Mississippi State totaled 306 rushing and three touchdowns while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Aeris Williams also had a big day in the lopsided win as he totaled 114 yards rushing and a touchdown while catching three passes for 33 yards.
The Bulldogs got on the board first when Fitzgerald found pay dirt from 15 yards out. Keith Mixon was huge on the drive as he caught a pair of 20-yard passes.
Donald Gray gave Mississippi State its second score of the first half when he was able to hold on to a 9-yard touchdown pass. Kylin Hill helped the Bulldogs move the sticks on the drive with two runs for first downs.
The Cougars answered with a 38-yard field goal from Rhett Almond to cut the deficit to 14-3. The big play to set up the score came on a strong throw from Tanner Mangum to Aleva Hifo for 43 yards.
The Bulldogs extended their lead just before halftime when Fitzgerald scored his second rushing touchdown from 14-yards out. It was a series where Fitzgerald did most the work on the ground with four carries for 41 yards.
Mississippi State pushed the lead to 28-3 on a perfectly delivered ball from Fitzgerald to Jamal Couch for the 32-yard touchdown. Williams made two plays to keep the chains moving as he had a first-down run and first-down catch on the only two second-down plays on the drive.
BYU scored its first touchdown when Mangum connected with Hifo from 27-yards out. The defense gave BYU the prime field position on the short drive thanks to an interception and 38-yard return by Dayan Ghanwoloku.
Williams finished the scoring on the day with a 5-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. The key play on the series came when Fitzgerald found Deddrick Thomas for a 4-yard gain to convert on a fourth-and-one.
3. Johnny Linehan
Linehan had a strong day on special teams as he averaged 40 yards per punt on six attempts, including five that pinned the Bulldogs inside their own 20-yard line.
2. Aleva Hifo
Hifo had easily his best day in a BYU uniform as he totaled career highs with five receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. His previous bests were four catches and 26 yards against West Virginia in 2016. It was the first touchdown of his Cougar career.
1. Dayan Ghanwoloku
Ghanwoloku came up with two of the biggest plays for the Cougars. He intercepted two Fitzgerald passes and returned them a combined 105 yards.
Analyzing the stats
Mississippi State put together six drives of 70 yards or more, including four of its five first-half possessions.
The Bulldogs dominated the major stats as they outgained the Cougars 546-176, won the time of possession 36:48 - 23:12 and totaled 35 first downs to BYU's eight.
The 546 yards of offense and 35 first downs were both season-highs against the BYU defense.
BYU won the turnover battle 3-2 making it just the second time this season where the Cougars were a plus in turnover margin. They are 1-1 in those games.
The Cougars are back on the road as they travel to face the East Carolina Pirates on Saturday. The Pirates enter the game with a 1-6 record, including three straight losses after a 41-38 win over Connecticut.
Most of the Pirates' struggles have come on the defensive side of the ball where they are giving up 600 yards a game and have allowed at least 30 points in every game, including four games of 55 or more.
While they have had a difficult time stopping their opponents, they have put up some solid offensive numbers, averaging 393 yards a game.
Some players to watch are quarterback Thomas Sirk and wide receiver Davon Grayson
Sirk, a Duke transfer, has put up some decent numbers through the first seven games with 1,473 yards passing and nine touchdowns. He is a dual-threat quarterback who has already put up a 400-yard passing game and a game where he rushed for 87 yards and two scores.
Grayson is easily Sirk's favorite target. He has totaled 37 receptions for 631 yards and six touchdowns, including one of the best performances by any receiver this season in the win over the Huskies where he caught 11 passes for 223 yards and three scores.