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#20 Bulldogs Rout Memphis 59-14 To Open 2011 Impressively


MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Talk about ushering in the 2011 season in commanding fashion.

Behind an offensive performance that netted a school-record 645 yards, No. 20 Mississippi State scored early and often en route to a lopsided 59-14 victory against Memphis in front a Liberty Bowl crowd of 33,990 to mark its 12th-consecutive win in this series.

It was the Bulldogs' widest margin of victory away from Scott Field since throttling Sewanee in Jackson, Miss., 68-0 in 1936 and their largest since running past South Carolina in Columbia, 38-0, in 1998.

Dating back to last season in the Gator Bowl win against Michigan, it's also the first time MSU has scored 50-plus points in back-to-back games since the 1914 campaign.

But if there is a stat that stands out, it's 9.3 - as in yards per play. Aiding that number was the fact five of the Bulldogs' eight touchdowns were 35 or more yards.

The production was also balanced, as Bulldogs manufactured 309 yards on the ground and 336 through the air.

Pacing the ground assault was senior Vick Ballard, who totaled 166 yards on just 10 carries, while scoring three touchdowns. Through the air, Chris Relf was 13-of-21 passing for 202 yards and two touchdowns, while Tyler Russell came off the bench to complete 5 of his 9 passes for another 138 yards and a score.

And it was Relf's arm that put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard early.

In State's second possession, Relf connected with Chad Bumphis for a 44-yard scoring strike. Then on MSU's next drive, Ballard made it 14-0 on a 46-yard scamper.

He also scored on a 66-yard run to make it 31-7 with 1:51 left in the opening half, while his final touchdown was the result of a 1-yard plunge with 8:35 to play in the third for a 38-7 advantage.

Also doing his part to make the highlight reel was redshirt freshman Jameon Lewis. The Tylertown native led the Bulldogs with four receptions for 113 yards while scoring twice.

His first touchdown came as the third quarter expired on a 19-yard end around for a 45-7 lead. Then with 11:20 to play, he grabbed an 80-yard pass from Russell to make it 52-14.

Russell, the former Meridian standout, was also productive on the ground, as the Bulldogs' final points were the result of his 26-yard bootleg with 2:41 to play.

Defensively, MSU held the Tigers to 338 yards. Deontae Skinner was credited with a team-high seven tackles, while Marvin Bure, Matthew Wells, Johnthan Banks and Ferlando Bohanna each had five.

The Bulldogs, who are now 3-0 in season openers under Dan Mullen and 79-31-2 all-time, return to action at Auburn on Sept. 10 in an 11:20 a.m. showdown televised by the SEC Network.



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