STARKVILLE, Mississippi (AP) — For perhaps the first time in more than a month, No. 4 Mississippi State actually looked like a team that belonged in the College Football Playoff.
The Bulldogs’ 51-0 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday night served as a reminder of how good this team can be when playing well.
Dak Prescott threw for three touchdowns and ran for another to lead Mississippi State (10-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 4 CFP). The Bulldogs jumped to a 37-0 halftime lead and enjoyed its biggest margin of victory in a conference game since 1936.
It was everything Mississippi State could have hoped for following its only loss of the season — to Alabama on Nov. 15.
“That was Mississippi State football tonight,” Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said. “It was great to see us respond off of a loss, to come out here and play at that level.”
Now it’s Egg Bowl week. The Bulldogs play on the road against No. 18 Mississippi (8-3, 4-3 SEC) on Saturday.
The rivalry has lost some luster the last month now that the Rebels have dropped three straight league games, including Saturday’s 30-0 loss to Arkansas. But there’s still plenty at stake for the Bulldogs, including a possible SEC Western Division title.
Mississippi State must beat Ole Miss on Saturday and hope that Auburn pulls upsets Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Mississippi State can also earn its first 11-win season in school history.
“We’re always looking at this game,” said Mullen, who has a 4-1 record in the Egg Bowl. “We’ve got the clock (in the football facility) that counts down. It’s a game where records and streaks mean nothing. I’ve heard that they don’t like me a lot in Oxford. I’m not sure why — I think I’m a pretty nice guy.”
Mississippi State should like its chances in the Egg Bowl, especially after Prescott’s performance against the Commodores.
The junior drew some Heisman Trophy discussion early this season while leading the Bulldogs to their first No. 1 ranking. His star has faded during an unimpressive midseason stretch, especially after throwing three interceptions in the loss to Alabama.
But he was back on track against the Commodores, completing 16 of 21 passes for 193 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
“That’s exactly what we wanted to do, come out and show how hungry we were after that loss,” Prescott said. “We just had to respond, and we did that on offense and defense. It was a good, complete game from the whole team.”