All eyes were on the state of Mississippi entering Week 6, and Mississippi State went a long way toward showing Magnolia State football is for real. The Bulldogs manhandled Texas A&M 48-31 in Starkville.
Coach Dan Mullen’s offense is thriving behind quarterback Dak Prescott and running backs Josh Robinson and Brandon Holloway. The Bulldogs amassed 290 rushing yards on Saturday, controlling the tempo all afternoon long.
Here are three thoughts from Mississippi State’s big win:
1. Dak Prescott: More cowbell, please
ESPN’s commentators kept trying to find the perfect comparison for Prescott, likening him to Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton at various parts of the broadcast. Well, the only player Prescott needs to resemble is himself, as the junior showed his skills passing, rushing and even receiving against the Aggies. He finished with 347 total yards and five scores (three passing, two rushing).
Prescott made strides toward the tail end of last season and entered this fall with budding expectations. So far he has lived up to the hype and more. The Bulldogs are rushing well and their defense looks like one of the more fearsome units in the conference. If Prescott keeps clicking, he might just end up with a trip to New York.
2. Mississippi State’s defensive front is mean
With 7:49 remaining in the first quarter and Texas A&M at the Bulldogs’ 17-yard line, the Aggies elected to go for it on fourth-and-one. Tailback Tra Carson took the handoff and was stuffed for a three-yard loss. Mississippi State’s defense was not scared of Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill, forcing him to take downfield shots and challenging his receivers to make plays.
The plan worked, as Mississippi State held A&M to a 5-of-17 conversion rate on third downs. The Bulldogs surrendered just 31 points, down considerably from the Aggies’ average of 51.2 entering the game.
It was pretty clear that Mississippi State isn’t Lamar, or Rice, or SMU. Mullen's crew is big and nasty up front, and they showed why again on Saturday. Richie Brown’s three interceptions certainly bolstered the Bulldogs’ case, too.
3. This was a big result in the SEC West
The SEC West resembles a newfangled M.C. Escher Painting. None of the stairs lead anywhere, and all of the teams seem destined to destroy each other. Survival is key, Mississippi State has weathered early tests against LSU and Texas A&M.
The Aggies aren’t out of the division race yet, by any means. Still, they took a big loss this week. With Mississippi State hosting Auburn next Saturday, the Bulldogs control their own destiny. Win and write a new script. Lose and the picture becomes even more muddled.