Mississippi State beats UAB 47-34
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Last week's Mississippi State's opener was so good that coach Dan Mullen couldn't find many reasons to complain.
The second game - even in victory - exposed plenty of warts.
The Bulldogs beat Alabama-Birmingham 47-34 on Saturday in a game full of big offensive plays and even bigger defensive breakdowns. The two teams combined for 1,064 yards - including 548 for the Blazers and 516 for the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State's Dak Prescott threw for 211 yards and four touchdowns while also running for 111 yards and a touchdown. The junior's big day helped keep the Blazers at arm's length, even though they threw for passing touchdowns of 88, 81 and 75 yards.
For Mullen, the game was much too interesting, even though the final outcome wasn't in much doubt throughout the second half. UAB had 435 passing yards.
''To give up over 400-some yards passing is embarrassing,'' Mullen said. ''That's not what our program is built on. We will get that fixed.''
The Bulldogs (2-0) have won five straight games dating to last season. Josh Robinson rushed for a career-high 124 yards and a touchdown.
UAB (1-1) grabbed a 20-19 lead midway through the second quarter after Ty Long's 46-yard field goal, but Mississippi State scored the next three touchdowns to take control of the game.
The game was another encouraging sign that UAB - under first-year coach Bill Clark - could be on its way to rapid improvement. The Blazers had a 2-10 record last season but won their opener 48-10 over Troy and kept this one interesting for much of the afternoon.
''We knew we were going to be in for a battle,'' Mullen said. ''That team that we played - they're a different looking outfit than they were last year. They showed it.''
UAB's Jeremiah Briscoe threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He split time under center with Cody Clements, who threw for 167 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
The problem for the Blazers was they couldn't stop Mississippi State.
''We expect to win, but I'm really proud of them and where we think we can go with this,'' Clark said. ''You hate it, but sometimes the things you learn the best from are from losses.''
Mississippi State's relatively difficult day was a 180-degree change from last weekend, when the Bulldogs easily defeated Southern Miss 49-0.
It also exposed some problem areas, including a porous pass defense and a shaky kicking game that included two missed extra points.
Things started well enough for Mississippi State, which scored on its third play after Prescott connected with Robert Johnson for a 68-yard touchdown.
Then the defense chipped in when Preston Smith picked off a pass and rumbled 21 yards for the touchdown. It was the second straight week Smith - a defensive lineman - had an interception and it pushed Mississippi State ahead 13-3 by the end of the first quarter.
But UAB responded with two touchdowns early in the second quarter to take a 17-13 lead. The first was a 2-yard run by Jordan Howard and the other was a stunning 88-yard pass from Briscoe to J.J. Nelson that left the stadium nearly silent.
It was Briscoe's first career completion.
And it was one of many times the Bulldogs' secondary - which is supposed to be one of the team's strengths this year - was burned for a big gain.
''We are always going to be happy we got a win,'' Smith said. ''But that is embarrassing because that is not the type of football we play at Mississippi State. We know guys are more capable of locking down receivers on the deep ball.''
Mississippi State scored the first two touchdowns of the second half - one on a 4-yard run by Prescott and the other on a 15-yard pass from Prescott to Joe Morrow - for a comfortable 40-20 lead that was never seriously challenged.
Prescott, who completed 12 of 25 passes, became the first quarterback at Mississippi State to throw for four touchdowns and run for at least 100 yards in the same game.
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