Steve Robertson/Genespage.com

Back in the Rankings; Updating Dak's Records; Cooke-Ing at Kicking; and More

Mississippi State has returned to the polls. Sunday’s releases showed the Bulldogs are now #21 in the Associated Press and #22 by the Coaches. State did make a short appearance earlier in the season, at #25 AP following the season-opening win at Southern Mississippi.

This makes the 36th week of Coach Dan Mullen’s seven seasons that State has a ranking, counting bye-weeks.

State’s lone loss this year has been to now-#9 AP Louisiana State.

DAK ATTACK: He’s already graduated so nobody need send Dak Prescott a present or anything. Auburn is simply glad to have seen the last of Mississippi State’s quarterback. Because Prescott has made a minor career at Tiger expense the past three seasons.

*After playing just a couple of snaps as a 2012 freshman, Prescott posted huge numbers in his varsity games. Enough to reach four-digit status. Running and passing, Prescott finished with 1,001 yards. The breakdown is 272 rushing yards on 68 carries (4.0 average) and 729 passing yards on 62-of-103 throwing.

But…the way State chose to end the game nearly pulled Prescott back into triple digits. Those three kneel-downs at the end? Yes, they must be statistically counted and added up to six yards in losses. Which made the two short totes for four yards back in ’12 matter after all.

Oh, and Prescott finished with seven touchdowns in the last three Tiger meetings. As well as  winning record as a starter in the series which matters most to the senior.

MORE DAK ATTACK: Looking beyond a single rivalry, Prescott keeps pushing the career records reached this season. In week-one he set the touchdown passes mark at 43; Prescott now has thrown for 48 scores.

Last week it was the career passing yards mark. The standard for future State slingers is 6,652.

And Prescott keeps avoiding turnovers in the air. He threw 41 balls at Auburn without any intercepted, extending that streak to a school-record 191 now (dating back to December).

ANOTHER OFF THE LIST: After three frustrating trips to the Plains before, Dan Mullen finally left Auburn with a Bulldog win. The State coach now has claimed victory in six SEC campus venues since 2009: Nashville, Lexington, Oxford, Gainesville, Baton Rouge, and now Auburn. He has also beaten Arkansas at their alternate home field of Little Rock.

This year Mullen does finally take a State team to Fayetteville. There are two other campus stadiums he’s yet to play as Bulldog coach; Knoxville which of course Mullen knew well in his Florida days, and Columbia, Mo., where State is headed in November.

Mullen teams have won at 13 regular-season road venues, whether campus or city. The most victories in any of them? Lexington where Mullen is 4-0 already at State.

BEAR FORCE: WR De’Runnya Wilson moved up another rung on the career touchdown catch ladder Saturday. His remarkable second-quarter score gives the junior 14, tying him for 4th place on the MSU chart with Bill Buckley.

Next up are another pair of former Dogs tied in second place. Eric Moulds and Justin Jenkins both caught 17 touchdowns in their careers, though Moulds played one less season.

Also, Wilson tops an unofficial record list. He has caught more touchdowns from Dak Prescott, 12 now. Prescott has thrown touchdowns to 18 different Dogs in four seasons. Tied for second are 2014 alums Malcolm Johnson and Jameon Lewis, while WR Fred Ross has four.

*It’s a quirk though that while Ross is setting the squad receiving pace with 22 balls in four games, he has yet to score a touchdown. Wilson has 16 catches and a pair of scores.

FULL SPEED: S Kendrick Market returned to the starting lineup at strong safety, after a week’s layoff. Team co-captain Market missed the Northwestern State game after hurting foot in the LSU game, which needed a cast for support. State opted to hold him out of the home game to let the injury heal longer.

Market alternated with S Brandon Bryant, yet finished with the second-most tackles at 8. Co-starter S Kivon Coman had 6 and Bryant 5 more as State safeties were kept busy supporting a lot of Auburn run plays.

BROWN TOWN: The most tackles? That was by MLB Richie Brown. He posted 13 stops for the evening, a career-high for the junior but also the third time this season he had double-digit stops.

Brown now has 39 tackles credited for the season, and leads DE A.J. Jefferson (23) for tops on the team.

A.J. IS OK: Don’t worry Jefferson feels second to anyone though. He added a sack to his ’15 total giving Jefferson 3.5 through four games. He’s also got 7.5 total tackles for losses, also best on the Dog defense.

Jefferson has made a tackle behind the line of some sort in the last five games.

COOKE-ING: It didn’t get enough attention during the game. Afterwards though Mullen and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz praised Bulldog punting for keeping State in stronger field position most of the evening.

P Logan Cooke not only averaged 41.8 yards, but three of his kicks were inside the 20-yard line and just one a touchback. This mattered because while Auburn did muster four strong, long drives the extra distance due to Cooke’s punting and team coverage made the Tigers work harder. That likely showed in State being able to make those red-zone stops and force field goal tries.

If not for a flag, Cooke’s numbers would have been even better. He hit a 54-yarder fair-caught at the Tiger 18 mid-way of the third quarter. Back at the line though a flag flew for a formation penalty. The re-kick was a good 42 yards with a short return, but the net-difference in position was 21 yards.

MSU-ELLANEOUS: CB Will Redmond's clutch interception to stop the first Auburn drive was his second pick of the season, and fifth career... PK Westin Graves got to take a swing at something a little beyond his scripted range, and it was a good decision. Graves crushed his 44-yarder in the third quarter right through the pipes with distance to spare. Graves, who his coach has said is called on when the ball is at the 25-yard line or in, is 5-of-5 on three-pointers as well as perfect on PATs…RB Brandon Holloway has only his own early-season success to blame. But Auburn gave him no real chance to bring back a kickoff, as all four of their boots went well into the end zone. Smart, seeing how Holloway has averaged 49.3 yards on the three kickoffs he’s brought back, including the first chance of State’s season for a 100-yard touchdown at Hattiesburg…Meanwhile S Jamal Peters didn’t get a good chance at making another special teams tackle. Only one of the four Bulldog kickoffs were returned, and it went the other way from freshman special teams star Peters. Instead LB Gerri Green did the honors…Though four flags were assessed to State, that still leaves the Dogs as the league’s least-penalized team this season with just 17 flags in four games.


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