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Mississippi State blanks Southern Miss
Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott (15) throws a pass for a gain in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Dak Prescott threw for a career-high 284 yards and four touchdowns, including two to De'Runnya Wilson, and Mississippi State cruised to a 49-0 victory over Southern Mississippi in the season-opener for both teams on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs dominated from the outset, needing nine plays on the opening drive to cruise 87 yards downfield. Prescott ended the drive by finding Wilson for a wide open 25-yard touchdown pass — the first of many offensive highlights.
A few Mississippi State hiccups kept the game close early, but the Bulldogs scored three touchdowns in the second quarter and gained 387 yards in the first half for a 28-0 lead.
Southern Miss struggled in every facet, gaining just 283 total yards and giving up 550. The Golden Eagles' best chance to score was a 30-yard field goal attempt that was blocked and then returned by MSU's Jay Hughes for a touchdown.
Mississippi State and Southern Miss played for the first time since 1990.
The return of the in-state rivalry was announced five years ago with much fanfare — and the Golden Eagles still lead the all-time series 14-13-1 — but that was when the two programs were much more evenly matched. The Golden Eagles have fallen apart over the past two years and have now lost 24 of 25 games dating back to 2012.
Second-year coach Todd Monken said he hoped the Golden Eagles would be more competitive this season thanks to a deeper roster and continuity within the coaching staff.
That may be true eventually, but they were overmatched for the vast majority of the evening against a Southeastern Conference opponent, especially along the line of scrimmage where Mississippi State's strength advantage was obvious.
Sophomore Nick Mullens had a rough night, completing just 20 of 42 passes for 212 yards and two interceptions. He rarely had a chance to get comfortable in the pocket, with Mississippi State defensive linemen like Preston Smith and Nelson Adams in his face the entire game.
Mississippi State was able to use its backups by midway through the third quarter after building a 42-0 lead.
Prescott recovered from a sluggish start to complete 18 of 26 passes. Josh Robinson rushed for 87 yards and also caught three passes for 49 yards. The 6-foot-5 Wilson, who is expected to be the Bulldogs' main deep ball threat this season, caught four passes for 65 yards and the two touchdowns.
Fred Ross also caught two touchdown passes.
It was an especially good night for Hughes, who hauled in an interception late in the first half before his 68-yard touchdown on the blocked field goal in the third quarter. The MSU senior captain missed almost all of last season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the first quarter of the first game.