The first play from scrimmage of the 2015 Belk Bowl was a Jacoby Brissett interception on a blown play-action rollout. Mississippi State quickly cashed in that takeaway with a touchdown, and while the Wolfpack had its moments later on, the Pack never really recovered. Behind Dak Prescott's pinpoint passing, the Bulldogs led all night and went on to win, 51-28.
The difference in the game was performance at the point of attack--Mississippi State was superior on both sides of the ball, which paid off in the long run despite some unstable moments. The Bulldogs' OL kept Prescott clean, and he made NC State's conservative defense pay over and over again.
On the other side, Jacoby Brissett was often harassed, and also missed some throws he needed to make. It was a rough combination that made for a rough night, even if there were big plays. NC State's first touchdown came on a back-side toss to newly-minted tight end Pharoah McKever. The second came shortly thereafter, on a fantastic speed rush by Jaylen Samuels, who got a great block on the edge and housed it from 47-yards out.
That made the score 21-14 in MSU's favor. The Bulldogs responded with a touchdown drive, then stuffed the Pack late in the half and added a field goal in the final seconds of the period. The momentum was gone--MSU had a three-score lead at the break, and it got the ball to start the third.
The Pack's defense played well coming out of the locker room and gave the offense a shot at getting the team back into the game. There simply was not enough consistency--on either side--to put serious pressure on Mississippi State. NC State made some plays, but the Bulldogs usually had answers. They executed better all night, made the bigger plays in the bigger spots. The better team tends to do that.
The fourth quarter was academic.
No doubt the best team won this game. Still a disappointing way to go out, though we did at least get to enjoy one last big Jaylen Samuels touchdown in 2015.