No. 16 Mississippi State 45, Middle Tennessee 3: Tyler Russell threw for three scores and LaDarius Perkins broke off a 64-yard touchdown run to spark a 21-point third quarter as the Bulldogs pulled away from the visiting Blue Raiders.
Russell finished with 191 yards passing and Perkins rushed for 125 more for Mississippi State (7-0), which improved to 5-0 all-time against Middle Tennessee and will face No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa next week.
The Bulldogs, who took a 10-3 advantage into the break despite being outgained 211-159 in the first half, assumed control of the game at the midpoint of the third quarter when Perkins exploded through the heart of the Middle Tennessee defense for his touchdown.
Three plays later, Johnthan Banks intercepted a pass and returned it 46 yards, setting Russell up for his second scoring pass of the game. Mississippi State forced a fumble on the next possession and Russell threw for his final score on the very next play – a 23-yard touchdown toss to Robert Johnson - to leave the Bulldogs with a 31-3 advantage.
Anthony Amos caught six passes for 93 yards to lead Middle Tennessee (4-3), which fell to 0-14 against ranked opponents since becoming an FBS school in 1999.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Banks’ third-quarter interception was the 16th of his career and tied Walt Harris’ school record. … With leading rusher Benny Cunningham lost for the season because of a knee injury suffered in last week’s win over Florida International, the Blue Raiders rushed for only 131 yards, 64 yards below their season average. … Starting with next Saturday’s showdown with the top-ranked Crimson Tide, the Bulldogs face three consecutive opponents ranked in the top 20 in No. 6 Louisiana State and No. 19 Texas A&M.