Tennessee at Mississippi State

No. 19 Mississippi State 41, Tennessee 31

CBSSports.com wire reports

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Tyler Russell doesn't get the publicity. He just keeps piling up the passing yards and victories.

The junior quarterback threw for a career-high 291 yards and two touchdowns, including a 9-yard pass to Malcolm Johnson to seal the victory with nine seconds remaining, and No. 19 Mississippi State beat Tennessee 41-31 on Saturday night.

Russell's big night helped carry the Bulldogs (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) to their eighth straight victory, dating back to last season. He completed 23 of 37 passes, including the final feathery toss to Johnson, who corralled the throw with one hand in the back of the end zone.

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"We knew we had to play four quarters," Russell said. "We didn't play as well as we wanted to, but we made plays when we had to."

LaDarius Perkins added 101 rushing yards and a touchdown as the Bulldogs continued their best start to a season since 1999.

Mississippi State only needs to beat Middle Tennessee next week to set up a potential showdown with No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 27 in Tuscaloosa.

The soft-spoken Russell outplayed Tennessee's Tyler Bray, who tried to rally the Volunteers late, but ran out of time. Bray completed 13 of 24 passes for 148 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in one of his least productive games as a starter.

Tennessee (3-3, 0-3) lost to Mississippi State for the first time since 1994, snapping a six-game winning streak. The Volunteers have lost all three games to ranked opponents.

The game was billed as a showdown between Bray and Mississippi State's veteran secondary, but the duel was slow to materialize.

Bray was just 6 of 12 passing for 58 yards in the first half, throwing one interception on a desperation pass at the end of the second quarter. The Volunteers seemed content to run the ball most of the time, and had quite a bit of success, with 213 rushing yards for the game.

But Bray got going in the second half, connecting on touchdown passes to Cordarrelle Patterson and Ben Bartholomew. The 10-yard strike to Bartholomew cut Mississippi State's lead to 34-31 with 5:22 left.

It looked like Tennessee might rally for the win. But Russell never gave Bray the chance.

He guided the Bulldogs down the field during the tense final minutes, connecting on several crucial passes, including two to Chad Bumphis for 10 and 23 yards. Bumphis led the Bulldogs with seven catches for 93 yards.

Russell has been at his best in three SEC games this season, completing 66 of 105 passes (62.8 percent) for 782 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.

Marcus Green caught six passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns.

"We're not a commercial team," Green said. "We just work hard, we grind."

Tennessee cruised down the field on its first drive, using hard-charging runs by Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane and a few well-placed throws by Bray. Neal bulldozed a couple Mississippi State defenders on a 6-yard touchdown run and the Volunteers had an early 7-3.

But the Bulldogs made adjustments. Tennessee managed just 97 total yards in the first half - and only 24 after the opening drive.

Mississippi State built a 27-14 lead by halftime as Russell dissected the Volunteers' defense, completing 16 of 23 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. Backup quarterback Dak Prescott even got in on the action, throwing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Green on a nifty play fake.

Tennessee managed to keep things close thanks to Patterson's spectacular 98-yard kickoff return early in the second quarter. He weaved his way around multiple would-be tacklers on the way to the end zone.

And Patterson was right in the middle of the action again as Tennessee mounted its second-half charge. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior turned what looked like a big loss on a running play into a 34-yard gain, reversing the field on Mississippi State's defense. He also caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Bray to cut Mississippi State's lead to 27-24 with 4:40 left in the third quarter.

Tennessee let several good chances to build on that momentum slip away. Byron Moore dropped what looked like an easy interception and Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks stripped Devrin Young to end a drive.

"We say all the time, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games," Mullen said. "Well, Banks did."

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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Scoring Summary
MISSSTDevon Bell 31 yd FG
TENNRajion Neal 6 yd run (Michael Palardy kick)
MISSSTJosh Robinson 10 yd run (Devon Bell kick)
MISSSTMarcus Green 13 yd pass from Dak Prescott (Devon Bell kick)
TENNCordarrelle Patterson 98 yd kick return (Michael Palardy kick)
MISSSTDevon Bell 24 yd FG
MISSSTMarcus Green 7 yd pass from Tyler Russell (Devon Bell kick)
TENNMichael Palardy 38 yd FG
TENNCordarrelle Patterson 11 yd pass from Tyler Bray (Michael Palardy kick)
MISSSTLaDarius Perkins 1 yd run (Devon Bell kick)
TENNBen Bartholomew 10 yd pass from Tyler Bray (Michael Palardy kick)
MISSSTMalcolm Johnson 9 yd pass from Tyler Russell (Devon Bell kick)
Team Stats
First Downs1826
Third Down Efficiency6-124-14
Fourth Down Efficiency0-02-2
Plays-Net Yards58-36180-450
Passing Yds148308
Kick Return Yds13280
Punt Return Yds-110
Time of Poss.23:2936:31
Individual Stats
TENN: Devrin Young 13-58, Cordarrelle Patterson 3-57, Rajion Neal 9-40, Alton Howard 4-30, Quenshaun Watson 2-13, Marlin Lane 2-9, Tyler Bray 1-6
MISSST: LaDarius Perkins 23-101, Josh Robinson 6-41, Derrick Milton 1-3, Dak Prescott 2-2, Tyler Russell 7-0, Team 1--2, Nick Griffin 1--3
TENN: Tyler Bray 13-24-148-1
MISSST: Tyler Russell 23-37-291-0, Dak Prescott 2-2-17-0
TENN: Zach Rogers 3-35, Justin Hunter 2-41, Cordarrelle Patterson 2-25, Rajion Neal 2-11, Vincent Dallas 1-14, Ben Bartholomew 1-10, Mychal Rivera 1-7, Alton Howard 1-5
MISSST: Chad Bumphis 7-93, Marcus Green 6-71, Arceto Clark 3-44, Chris Smith 3-31, Malcolm Johnson 2-34, LaDarius Perkins 2-25, Sylvester Hemphill 1-5, Brandon Hill 1-5
Tennessee2nd SEC East4-49-4
Mississippi State5th SEC West3-56-7

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