Gator Bowl: No. 21 MSU (8-4) vs. Michigan (7-5), Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m., EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla., ESPN2 (Mike Patrick, Craig James and Todd Harris)
Mississippi State's defense had a chance to get its shots in on the quarterbacks today, but Dylan Favre proved too elusive. Quarterbacks were live for the first time since preseason camp, which means defenders could hit them, but Favre rallied the offense to victory in red zone scrimmaging.
On one play, Favre scrambled and ran over cornerback Jay Hughes along the sideline. He also scored on a 1-yard sneak, and he went up the middle for another TD as the defenders, perhaps too used to not being able to hit the QBs, let up and let him through.
That helped the offense overcome a 5-1 deficit in the red zone drills. It scored five consecutive touchdowns to win, 6-5. The final score was a naked bootleg from the 3-yard line by Favre, who high-stepped toward the goal line before diving in as defenders approached.
There were some lessons to be learned from all that.
"Something we have to learn as a team, the defense had the offense down and then let them back in it," coach Dan Mullen said. "They didn't put them away. When you want to become a great football team, we had that opportunity. We had some teams that we could've put away this season, and we let them hang around in the game. We've got to learn to put teams away when you have them down.
"And it's great for the offense to realize that one thing you say is, you get one score to get two. So you don't worry about how many you have to score, worry about the next one. And they did a nice job today."
As the younger players and non-starters continue to log heavy practice time, it's fun for all leading up to Thursday's scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium. It's a reward for the guys who've yet to see game action, and a chance for the older players to heal and rest up a little.
There are also jobs at stake, though. Not immediately, but down the line.
"It's started a competition; the spring's already started," said Mullen. "It kind of lets everybody know that, hey, there might be somebody right behind me that can step in and make the plays, so I'd better get going."
Mullen said the Bulldogs will "clean up" some things Wednesday in preparation for the scrimmage, which like the practices will feature mostly younger players. Then game planning for Michigan begins in earnest on Friday.
"I can promise you this: By Monday, you'll see a lot of restlessness. I don't know to get down to Florida, a lot of restlessness to get home for Christmas to see their family and get momma's cooking."
One more thing on Favre: He's a cocky son of a gun, and he doesn't hide it. He might be only 5-foot-11, but he acts like he's 6-6.
"They've been wanting to hit Dylan for a while, so I'm surprised they didn't get more of a piece of him," Mullen said of the defenders. "I'm sure now we've got to listen to him talk and all that stuff."