Texas Tech Wins Liberty Bowl Over Mississippi State 34-7: Reaction, Analysis, 5 Thoughts

Texas Tech beat Mississippi State to win the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Five thoughts and analysis of the game, and what it all means.

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Texas Tech beat Mississippi State 34-7: AutoZone Liberty Bowl 5 Things That Matter

Final Score: Texas Tech 34, Mississippi State 7
CFN Prediction: Mississippi State 41, Texas Tech 20
Line: Mississippi State -10, o/u: 58.5

Liberty Bowl 5 Thoughts
4. The Texas Tech D got the job done
3. Where was the Mississippi State defense?
2. How about giving a little love to Texas Tech?
1. Mike Leach could use a good Year 3

5. Texas Tech was … physical?

No, this wasn’t the Mississippi State of the regular season, and it certainly wasn’t the Mississippi State that everyone was hoping to see in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl – a ton more on that in a moment – but Texas Tech did its part by taking advantage of the situation.

It’s Texas Tech under Sonny Cumbie – he’s off to Louisiana Tech as the head man after this. It’s supposed to bomb away, throw deep, and do what Mississippi State is supposed to do under Mike Leach.

Instead, the ground game took over.

Texas Tech was able to throw well enough to get by, but it was the running game that took over with 260 yards to go along with the 252 through the air.
Mississippi State was tenth in the nation against the run, allowing 101 yards per game on the year.

Tajh Brooks took off for 107 yards and a score, SaRodrorick Thompson added 80 yards and a score, and the team averaged close to six yards per carry.

Mississippi State netted 54 rushing yards and averages few than three yards per run.

Liberty Bowl 5 Thoughts
4. The Texas Tech D got the job done
3. Where was the Mississippi State defense?
2. How about giving a little love to Texas Tech?
1. Mike Leach could use a good Year 3

NEXT: The Texas Tech D got the job done

4. The Texas Tech D got the job done

The Mississippi State offense was missing the tackles. Future NFL Starter Charles Cross opted out, and right tackle Scott Lashley was out, too.

It mattered.

Bulldog QB Will Rogers didn’t have a whole lot of time, the passing game couldn’t get into a groove, and the Texas Tech defense was able to get off the field time and again. There were plenty of Mississippi State third down conversions, but Rogers only averaged 5.5 yards per throw with way too many plays that didn’t go anywhere.

The passing game tried to spread the ball around and get something going, but the O kept stalling in the second half, the team only scored seven points – even Kansas got 14 on the Red Raiders – and it was a total flop of a night.

The 290 passing yards were the fewest the O came up with all year, NC State and Alabama were the only teams to hold Mississippi State to fewer than 400 total yards, and Texas Tech picked the perfect time to play its best all-around defensive game of the year.

Liberty Bowl 5 Thoughts
5. Texas Tech was … physical?
3. Where was the Mississippi State defense?
2. How about giving a little love to Texas Tech?
1. Mike Leach could use a good Year 3

NEXT: Where was the Mississippi State defense?

3. Where was the Mississippi State defense?

It’s simple – Mississippi State didn’t have its guys.

That’s life in the SEC. If you recruit really well, and if you have a ton of talented guys, you’re going to lose players who’ll opt out or want to leave for bigger and better other opportunities through the transfer portal.

It doesn’t matter – you’re supposed to win no matter what in a bowl game in a next-man-up sort of way – but this wasn’t close to being the Mississippi State of the regular season, especially on the lines.

The 22nd-best defense and great run D was better than it showed.

So yeah, there’s a legitimate reason to give the Bulldogs a bit of a break for this disaster, buuuuuuut …

Liberty Bowl 5 Thoughts
5. Texas Tech was … physical?
4. The Texas Tech D got the job done
2. How about giving a little love to Texas Tech?
1. Mike Leach could use a good Year 3

NEXT: How about giving a little love to Texas Tech?

2. How about giving a little love to Texas Tech?

34-7.

Yes, Mississippi State didn’t have a ton of its main guys – and that’s a valid excuse for the loss – but it shouldn’t have been 34-7 bad.

There’s supposed to be the developed depth to rise up. There’s supposed to be a system in place to have the parts ready to roll whenever needed. There’s supposed to be the coaching that can come up with the right game plan to overcome the adversity and make it all work.

Texas Tech was missing a few guys, too. It wasn’t the same as Mississippi State’s lost issues, but it played well, it was prepared, and it executed and the other side didn’t.

Texas Tech was able to bend without breaking. The pass rush came up with four sacks and seven tackles for loss against a team that doesn’t give up plays behind the line, and the secondary balled out to keep the short passes from gong anywhere.

And don’t forget that the program is in a transitional phase with interim head man Sonny Cumbie taking off after this.

He outcoached the other guy, and his team outplayed the other team.

Take absolutely nothing away from Texas Tech taking this to Mississippi State.

Liberty Bowl 5 Thoughts
5. Texas Tech was … physical?
4. The Texas Tech D got the job done
3. Where was the Mississippi State defense?
1. Mike Leach could use a good Year 3

NEXT: Mike Leach could use a good Year 3

1. Mike Leach could use a good Year 3

Here’s the thing with bowl games and their occasionally outsized importance – they set the tone for the offseason.

Why do coaches like bowls? Win, and you close out on a high note with everyone happy. On the flip side, lose – especially after dropping the rivalry game to a team like Ole Miss – and fan bases start to get a tad bit grumpy.

Times that by a gajillion in the SEC.

Mike Leach says quirky things, and he’s – let’s just say – unique, but to paraphrase what someone tweeted out in a response, there needs to be more steak to his sizzle.

With this bowl loss, Leach is 17-20 in his last three years as a head coach since his great 11-2 2018 season at Washington State.

He can win games, and his offenses are usually entertaining, but 11-13 in two years in the SEC isn’t quite the start Bulldog fans were hoping for.

One of the worst bowl performances in the program’s history wasn’t what the Bulldog fans were hoping for.

He’ll still get plenty of time to build the Bulldogs back up, but it would make things a whole lot easier if the big wins could start to come.

Liberty Bowl 5 Thoughts
5. Texas Tech was … physical?
4. The Texas Tech D got the job done
3. Where was the Mississippi State defense?
2. How about giving a little love to Texas Tech?
1. Mike Leach could use a good Year 3