Fans can focus on officiating if they'd like, Mississippi State can't afford to do so

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Sep. 19—MEMPHIS — The SEC admitted to multiple officiating mistakes on a crucial — and crazy — punt returned for a touchdown by Memphis in Saturday's win against Mississippi State.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's acknowledge this: that statement is just that.

There was no change in the outcome of the game or a "no contest" as some fans on Twitter vouched for, and that's because as unfair as the ruling for MSU was, it would be unfair to assume a State win had that punt not been returned.

Mississippi State did nothing to help itself in the second half of the game both on the field and in the headsets when seemingly no MSU coach — on the field or press box — thought to inform Mike Leach what happened on the punt and push for a review.

But let's focus on the field.

MSU was already trailing when the play occurred in a game it should have put away.

An Emmanuel Forbes interception to open the second half should have resulted in Mississippi State leading 24-7. Instead, a bad snap on fourth down left the Bulldogs with no points to show.

Memphis got the ball back and went 98 yards to cut State's lead to 17-14. That drive featured another interception from Martin Emerson but MSU had 12 players on the field to negate it.

MSU had four drives while leading in the second half and put them to waste.

The elementary argument is the punt gave Memphis seven points and MSU lost by two so simple math gives State a win had that play been properly officiated.

Throw that argument out because MSU got its own free points when Memphis was in a prevent defense and Will Rogers led Mississippi State 65 yards in two plays. Football is too complex a sport for the argument.

The prevent defense was in place because Memphis had done what MSU couldn't: extend a lead.

Playing against a prevent defense was also the only way Mississippi State and Rogers could do anything resembling offense in the second half

Memphis, Leach said, was the more mature team. On a relatively young Mississippi State team, maturity and mentality have cost them one game and nearly two — recall that slim win over Louisiana Tech after trailing 34-14.

Fans will push their heat on the officiating, but if State's players and coaches decide to do the same, there will be an 0-1 record in SEC play awaiting them against LSU on Saturday.

Early signs indicate Leach has the right idea in mind.

A positive approach is off the table at this point. Postgame he showed frustration with officiating but didn't comment much on it. When discussing his players, he didn't hold back.

Leach mentioned rearranging spots on the sideline and spending Saturday and Sunday planning how he'd change his team's mentality this week to quit overlooking opponents.

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