With the score 51-28, Dak Prescott came off the field to standing applause with thirty seconds left in the Belk Bowl. The greatest player in Mississippi State history unsurprisingly played another good game on a cool, wet night in North Carolina. Prescott capped off his career going 25-for-42, 380 yards, and four touchdowns against N.C. State. The game was never in doubt outside of an exciting second quarter.
Mississippi State's defense, not known for creating turnovers in 2015, picked off N.C. State's Jacoby Brissett two times in the first quarter. Those turnovers led to 14 first-quarter points, which would be followed by 17 second-quarter points. N.C. State's respectable rushing offense was effectively neutralized early as the Wolfpack had to start playing catch-up. The picks were notable because Brissett had only thrown two interceptions all season.
The second quarter provided the most drama. The Bulldogs were comfortably up 21-0 until a coverage breakdown by Mississippi State resulted in a 82-yard TD pass to Pharoah McKever to make the score 21-7. it was such a big breakdown that the MSU secondary couldn't run down the converted defensive end. At this point, Brissett had 114 yards while only completing three of seven passes.
Prescott then threw an interception on MSU's next possession. The Wolfpack scored on a 48-yard TD run by Jaylen Samuels, and the score was suddenly 21-14 with 6:43 left in the first half. Surprisingly, Samuels would only finish the game with three carries.
The second half proved the second quarter was an outlier. MSU easily won the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Receiver De'Runnya Wilson, probably playing his last game in Bulldog uniform, caught five passes for 96 yards, while running mate Fred Ross caught seven passes for 74 yards. The Bulldogs would outscore the Wolfpack 20-14 in the second half, and answered every hay-maker with one of their own. There was very little doubt that Prescott wouldn't march his team down the field for points.
What happens next is interesting for Mississippi State. Dan Mullen seems set at Starkville for at least one more year, and he's probably the SEC's best play-caller. His quarterback will probably be a sophomore with 15 passing attempts this year. It's unlikely Ross or Wilson return, and the leading tacklers may also dip their toes in NFL waters.
In any case, MSU punctuated a decent season with an easy bowl victory to finish 2015 at 9-4.