STARKVILLE, Miss. — Will Rogers threw for 406 yards and tied a school record with six touchdown passes on Saturday as Mississippi State bounced back from a loss with a 45-14 win over Bowling Green inside Davis-Wade Stadium.
Mississippi State improves to 3-1 while Bowling Green falls to 1-3.
After having a more balanced attack than normal for most of the first two wins, the Air Raid returned for Mississippi State coach Mike Leach’s team against the Falcons. Rogers was 38-of-49 passing, finding 12 different receivers.
It was the third time this season Rogers completed at least 78% of his passes. The six touchdowns tied his own school record that he set a season ago. He also reached 400 yards for the seventh time in his three seasons.
Caleb Ducking had seven catches for a career-high 96 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs (3-1). Lideatrick “Tulu” Griffin had five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown and added another 70 yards on two kick returns.
Bowling Green was without head coach Scot Loeffler because of “a personal health matter,” the school said Friday. The school did say he was expected to return to the sideline for the Falcons’ next game against Akron on Oct. 1.
Stepping up to take over was BGSU associate head coach and inside linebackers coach Steve Morrison, who said the Falcons had a difficult time stopping the Bulldogs’ receivers.
“Mississippi State spreads you out and they have really good players. They force you to make some decisions and you can’t protect everyone on our field,” Morrison said.
“We tried to do some different things in terms of getting different looks, but they space you out with talented players.
“You get talented players out in space they are hard to tackle, and they are going to find windows. It is a good offense,” Morrison continued.
Bowling Green was also without starting senior quarterback Matt McDonald, who was out for an unspecified reason. McDonald did claim to have two hip pointers late in BGSU’s 34-31 overtime win over Marshall a week earlier.
In his place, BGSU junior quarterback Camden Orth went 17-of-28 for 172 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The Falcons (1-3) were outgained 462-246 and had just 45 rushing yards.
Six-foot-7 junior wide receiver Tyrone Broden and 6-4 freshman tight end Harold Fannin Jr. found the end zone for Bowling Green, both connecting with Orth for scores through the air.
During the second quarter drive that led to Broden’s score, junior tight end Andrew Bench caught a 31-yard pass down the sideline for the Falcons, staying in bounds for the first down to move the Falcons into Bulldog territory.
Orth then found Broden in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown strike to cap the 97-yard drive and put the Falcons on the board, 17-7. It is Broden’s seventh career receiving touchdown.
Early in the fourth Fannin hauled in a 5-yard touchdown for his first collegiate receiving score, making it 38-14.
Fannin caught five passes for 49 yards, Broden had two catches for 30 yards.
With two receptions, BGSU senior wide receiver Odieu Hiliare extended his active streak with a reception to 26 games. Entering the weekend, it was tied for the 17th-longest active streak in the nation.
Nathaniel Watson led the MSU defense with his 10 tackles. For BGSU, sophomore safety Trent Simms had nine tackles, including five solo tackles and junior interior linebacker J.B. Brown had a forced fumble and pass break-up.
In addition, BGSU registered its first sack of the day late in the first quarter with senior outside linebacker Demetrius Hardamon and Brown getting to the quarterback The sack fueled a series that forced a field goal from 53-yards to bring the score to 17-0.
The Falcons will begin MAC competition with a game on the road against Akron for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff next Saturday, Oct. 1, before returning to Doyt Perry Stadium on Oct. 8 to host Buffalo. (AP contributed to this story)