It has seemed like the Mississippi State Bulldogs have been close to tipping the meter from average to good over the past few seasons under Dan Mullen, but haven't quite been able to will their cowbells quite far enough. While 2013 was far from a statement year, if the Bulldogs are going to make it happen, chances are it'll be because of quarterback Dak Prescott.
The sophomore had 361 total yards and five scores (3 passing, 2 rushing) as MSU toppled Rice, 44-7 in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. With Tyler Russell's career over and Prescott getting the keys all to himself next year, it'll be on the sophomore to lead the Bulldogs in 2014. Offense has been an issue at times especially in losses for Mississippi State. When it was able to establish drives and put points on the board early in games, the Bulldogs did have success. Against Rice that blueprint was followed exactly how they likely wanted. Mississippi State led 27-7 at the break and didn't slow down, dominating on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs held Rice to just 145 total yards.
Despite the Owls' bowl game result, this was an impressive year for them. Rice won 10 games for just the second time in team history, and coach David Bailiff had the team in back-to-back bowl games, something the Owls haven't done since the 1960-61 seasons. Against an SEC team though, it was clear how much more size and speed the Bulldogs had over Rice. And that was something Mississippi State was able to exploit early and often. Junior wide receiver Jameon Lewis had a single-game school record 220 yards, including 181 yards in the first half. Mississippi State is in the undesirable position of being wedged in the SEC West with teams like Auburn, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M, and competing in that division might be a bit of a pipe dream. But college football needs its share of dreamers.