The Bulldogs are about to play a game again though, and resume their season on the road no less. Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0 SEC) takes both its number-one national ranking and place in the forefront of the SEC to Lexington (5-2, 2-2) this weekend, for a 3:30et matchup at Kentucky.
No club in the country was riding more mid-October momentum than State. Taking down three Western Division rivals in a row, all ranked in the top-ten at the time too, gave Coach Dan Mullen’s team the fastest unranked-to-#1 ride ever. So there was the natural sentiment to keep pushing the pace…
…except that after hitting such a high an opportunity to wind-down was maybe more valuable. Either way one wants to see it, quarterback Prescott is just glad to be back at work. And, preparing for the first exposure to the SEC’s Eastern side. It has not been a fun season for that Division so far, with the West holding a 6-1 advantage in cross-conference contests so far.
As for this particular matchup, things have gone all Mississippi State’s way of late with a five-year winning streak. That includes three victories in Lexington (2009, ’11, ’12) with Prescott a second-year freshman in the third meeting. He got to start against the Wildcats in 2013, on Scott Field, and went 23-of-34 for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
At the same time that game still came down to a single play either way, as S Kendrick Market held his position and was able to make a trip-tackle preventing a Kentucky touchdown and upset. The Bulldogs survived 28-22 as a result. Now the rematch is on the road and against one of the most obviously improved squads around.
Which Prescott has seen in early scouting. “We watched a bunch of film,” he said, with particular attention to the “funky things” the Wildcat defense is now doing. “They’ll go odd-four and can easily move to four-down or a five-man line,” Prescott gave as one example. The secondary is more athletic, linebacker Josh Forrest is among the league’s leaders in total tackles, and combo end/linebacker Bud Dupree can bring the pressure from any angle.
“We know what they’re capable of,” Prescott said. “We just have to be sound, we all have to be on the same page and communicate what they’re doing.”
What Mississippi State has been doing this season has brought unprecedented attention to the program, as well as the first-ever #1 national ranking. Despite the open date the Bulldogs didn’t lose the top spot in both polls. In fact they gained significant ground in the Coaches polling and held place with Associated Press.
So after a week to enjoy being #1, for the first time in MSU history a Bulldog team will actually play a game as top Dogs. It is all entirely new territory for the program, much less this ball club, and as a result demands a little different sort of focus per Prescott.
Because, he said, “We really haven’t done anything, I guess you could say we’ve knocked off some big teams but there’s still a lot of improvement. As a team we can get better in a lot of aspects. So it’s coming in each and every day, get better, remember who we are and stay true to ourselves and I think we’ll be fine.”