Saturday's matchup between Mississippi State and FCS opponent ETSU went about as expected as the Bulldogs quickly got into a rhythm on both sides of the ball, coming out with the 56-7 win over the Buccaneers in Davis Wade Stadium.
It was a strong display of complementary football by head coach Mike Leach's team with five touchdown passes from quarterback Will Rogers, three takeaways on defense and impressive special teams plays throughout.
Here's a look into just three players who turned heads as the Bulldogs prepare for a rivalry contest against Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl on Thursday in Oxford:
1. WR Lideatrick "Tulu" Griffin.
Griffin busted things open early with a 58-yard kickoff return to allow the Bulldogs offense to start the game deep in ETSU territory, giving them a strong sense of momentum that never swung in the other direction.
The junior pass-catcher finished the game with four receptions for 53 yards and two touchdowns. That brings him to a season total of 33 catches for 410 yards with three touchdowns.
When I asked Leach about his impression of Griffin's performance and his progression on the practice field leading up to it, he noted the improvement he'd seen from Griffin.
"I think he's progressively gotten better," Leach said. "I think he had a good day today. It was good to see him score. He's an explosive guy, but it's good to see him in the end zone more and I kind of thought he was a little overdue on that, so I thought that part was good."
2. CB Emmanuel Forbes.
It just does not get any better than Forbes when it comes to defensive backs across college football and he showed that in a big way yet again on Saturday as he finished the game with two tackles, two pass breakups and one interception.
That single interception grab for a 76-yard touchdown was incredibly significant as it broke both an SEC and FBS record for most career pick-sixes as Forbes now totals six takeaways through the air.
Forbes is expected to be a big name in the 2023 NFL Draft, totaling 133 tackles (84 solo), 20 passes defended, 14 interceptions, six touchdowns, one sack and one forced fumble to this point in his career.
"It was good, it was very impressive," Leach said of Forbes' performance after the game. "As a matter of fact, we gave him the game ball. He's an explosive, inspiring guy and he's keeping up the good work."
Expect Forbes to be an instant difference-maker at the next level with some exciting Sundays on the horizon.
3. LB DeShawn Page.
Page recorded a solid outing on the stat sheet over the weekend with eight total tackles (two solo) and one tackle for loss. That made him the team's second-leading tackler on the day, second only to linebacker Jett Johnson, who had nine total tackles (two solo) in the win.
This marks the biggest game of Page's career since the 55-10 win over Tennessee State in 2021 when he tallied eight total tackles (one solo).