If you predicted that Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott would have the best performance of the bowl season so far, you’re looking extremely smart.
Prescott was unstoppable as he accounted for 361 total yards and five touchdowns for the Bulldogs in a Liberty Bowl beatdown of Rice, 44-7.
After a bit of a sluggish start, the Bulldogs took control of the game in the second quarter. Rice, the Conference USA champs, jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a Charles Ross touchdown run, but Mississippi State responded with touchdowns on each of their next four drives to close out the half with a 27-7 lead. Three of those scores came on Prescott touchdown passes to LaDarius Perkins, Malcolm Johnson and Artimas Samuel. The other score came on a one-yard plunge by running back Ashton Shumpert.
The second half was more of the same. Rice’s offense couldn’t get anything going and Prescott continued to make plays with both his legs and his arm. He scored on runs of five and 11 yards and the main recipient of Prescott’s passing prowess was junior wideout Jameon Lewis. Lewis hauled in nine passes for a school-record 220 yards – also a Liberty Bowl record.
Defensively, the Bulldogs limited an Owls team that averaged 240.2 yards rushing per game to just 61 yards and a 1.9 rushing average. Ross, who ran for 1,232 yards this season and averaged 6.2 yards per rush, was held to just 28 yards on ten carries. The Owls gained just 145 yards of total offense.
For MSU, the win clinched four consecutive winning seasons and the Bulldogs’ third bowl win in four years in Dan Mullen’s fifth season at the helm.
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