An under-the-weather Dak Prescott didn't even play a full quarter but Mississippi State was just fine, rolling to a 45-17 win over Troy on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium. Here's a look at the particulars:
What the win means for Mississippi State: The Bulldogs get a nice convincing win to bounce back from last week's SEC loss at Texas A&M. There will be some good video for teaching purposes for head coach Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, as the Bulldogs rolled to a 38-0 halftime lead but were sloppy for a period in the second half. The Bulldogs got plenty of reps out of backup quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and even Elijah Staley came in in the fourth quarter to get some snaps, with Prescott – who was not feeling well on Saturday morning – playing less than a quarter. The defense was dominant in the first half, getting a score of its own on a Brandon Bryant sack that forced a fumble, which was recovered by Nelson Adams in the end zone. They scored in all three phases of the game -- offense, defense, special teams -- in the first quarter. At 4-2 overall, the Bulldogs get one more nonconference game next week vs. Louisiana Tech before resuming conference play on Oct. 24 vs. Kentucky.
What the loss means for Troy: The first half was discouraging but the second half was encouraging for first-year head coach Neal Brown. After falling behind so big at the midway point, Brown was looking for good effort from his group in the second half and he got just that – the Trojans were able to put a couple touchdowns on the board and after their second, which cut Mississippi State's lead to 38-14 in the third quarter, the Trojans recovered an onside kick. They weren't able to convert it into points, but they showed the type of fight that can be built upon moving forward for this struggling team (1-4).
Player of the game: Fred Ross. The Mississippi State junior receiver is having a nice season and had an explosive first half. His first two touches went for touchdowns – a 59-yard reception on a quick screen and a 77-yard punt return. He finished with 139 all-purpose yards on only five touches. Opposing defenses pay much attention to De'Runnya Wilson and Ross is taking advantage by making plays and emerging as a consistent No. 2 receiver as well as a quality special teams weapon.
Stat of the game: There were six different quarterbacks used in this game, five in the first half. Prescott, who was 3-of-6 passing for 74 yards and a touchdown in his brief starting appearance, gave way to Fitzgerald (6-of-7, 141 yards, two touchdowns, plus 29 rushing yards and a score). Troy starting quarterback Brandon Silvers left the game in the first half with an injury and didn't return. Dallas Tidwell and Dontreal Pruitt both saw snaps in relief of Silvers; Pruitt put together a nice performance, completing 12-of-17 passes for 90 yards and rushing for 56 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.