Oct 11, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott (15) walks through the celebration line after the game against the Auburn Tigers at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated the Auburn Tigers 38-23. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
Beating a top 10 team is hard. Beating a top 10 team when your current coach has never done it is even harder. Beating three of them in consecutive games may be the hardest task there is in all of college football. Mississippi State did all of those things in a 4 week span.
Let’s go ahead and address the critics. LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn are all out side of the top 10 and one of them is completely out of the top 25 completely. One of the reasons that those teams are where they are though is because Mississippi State started the process of putting them there. All three suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Bulldogs. As a matter of fact, Mississippi State didn’t play an opponent with a single loss until they played Kentucky the last week of October.
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Those three games are arguably the most pivotal moments in the history of the program. Mississippi State entered their game with LSU with something to prove. They were just on the outside of the Top 25 and heading to a stadium that the team had not walked away victorious from since 1991. Pollsters were basically telling Dan Mullen to prove it. They wanted to see the coach lead his team to a win over a top 10 ball club, something he had never done, before they put the Bulldogs in the rankings. They didn’t just beat the Tigers, they pounded them.
Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson beat up the Tigers all night long. Dak did it on the ground and in the air. He’d give the ball to Robinson and he would hammer away on them as well. By the time the Tigers finally gathered themselves together, they were down 31-10 with 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. The Tigers put up a valiant comeback effort the last five minutes of the game, but it wasn’t enough.
Then came the bludgeoning of the Aggies. Texas A&M came to town as the 6th ranked team in the country. Kenny Hill had taken the football world by storm in a surprising win over South Carolina the first week of the season. The Aggies were quickly sent back to College Station with their tails between their legs.
As great as those two wins were, the seminal moment was the Auburn game on October 11. Mississippi State had risen as fast as ever to the #3 ranking in the country. The Tigers were ranked #2. It was easily the game of the week. CBS picked it for the marquee game to air at 2:30. College Gameday decided to come to town for the first time in the school’s history. Not only did they come to town, people outside of Starkville didn’t enjoy it too much. Based on the previous results of both teams, the winner of this game would likely be the top ranked team in the country.
The Bulldogs jumped on the Tigers early. Thanks to two Auburn turnovers, the Bulldogs had a 21-0 lead before the first quarter was even over. It looked like the Bulldogs were going to run away with this game. Auburn wasn’t about to just let the Bulldogs run away with this game.
After running out to the three touchdown advantage, the Tigers started chipping away. The lead was whittled down to 28-20, and an Evan Sobiesk field goal would push the lead back to 11 early in the fourth quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, the Bulldogs would force the return man to fumble the ball which Mississippi State recovered. Less than a minute later, Josh Robinson would punch the ball in from the 1 yard line. Auburn would add a field goal on the next possession to make the score 38-23. On Auburn’s last drive of the game, the Bulldogs would hit Nick Marshall in the red zone which led to an interception to seal the game.
The following day, Mississippi State would be ranked #1 by both the Coaches and AP Poll. Dak Prescott was the leader in the Heisman race. It was a place Mississippi State had never been before. For most Bulldog fans, times had never been better.