Mississippi State junior quarterback Dak Prescott made a statement Saturday night — both on the field and in the press room after the game.
In a contest when he completed 15 of 24 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 105 yards and a score, Prescott seemingly had the perfect play called for every LSU defensive scheme.
Prescott confirmed that theory minutes after completing an unlikely 34-29 upset, the first victory the Bulldogs have mustered against the Tigers since 1999.
“I pretty much knew everything (the Tigers) were coming with before the snap of the ball,” Prescott said.
LSU had no answer defensively, but it certainly had its chances.
Whether it was a dropped interception by sophomore cornerback Tre’Davious White or the inability of the Tigers defensive line to bring the 6-foot-2, 229-pound Prescott to the ground, LSU had potential momentum shifts literally falling into its hands.
One example came with 10:47 left in the third quarter.
With LSU trailing by 14, the Tigers defensive front collapsed onto Prescott, forcing the junior to make a quick decision in the pocket. Instead of taking the sack, Prescott scrambled out of danger and to his right, eventually finding senior receiver Jameon Lewis for a 74-yard score.
“Dak is an explosive guy,” LSU sophomore defensive tackle Christian LaCouture said. “He is a guy we really focused on this week, making sure that we limit him from making big plays. A couple times we did that, and a couple times were miscues.”
Junior safety Jalen Mills said the blame rests on all of LSU’s defenders.
“We weren’t playing to our full potential,” he said. “That was the frustrating part. It wasn’t any one person. It was us as a defense.”
There was a dramatic change in the atmosphere of Tiger Stadium when freshman quarterback Brandon Harris made his first completion Saturday night to freshman receiver Trey Quinn.
And then he made another, this time to freshman running back Darrel Williams. His drive ended with a 31-yard strike to first-year wideout Malachi Dupre in the end zone.
Harris finished the night with two touchdown passes — both to Dupre — and 140 passing yards on 6-of-9 passing.
Sophomore starter Anthony Jennings had 157 yards and no scores on more than double the completions (13).
Sophomore wide receiver Travin Dural said both Jennings and Harris are still working to be the starter going forward.
“I can’t say if Brandon should get a starting job,” Dural said. “You know every week, we go to practice, and those two guys battle. Whichever one looks like they have the most talent and the coaches feel are more prepared will earn a starting spot.”
State’s line held firmly against an LSU backfield featuring two seniors and the former No. 1 recruit in the nation. The Tigers finished with 89 rushing yards on 36 carries, an average of 2.5 yards.
LSU senior running back Terrence Magee said miscommunication in the backfield was a factor.
“We had some mistakes on the offense as far as the offensive line to tailback and fullback communication,” he said. “We’ll get those things cleaned up. (The miscommunication) doesn’t happen a lot, but there are some things we could have cleaned up and done better on the offensive line.”
At least three LSU players were inured in the loss.
Cornerback Jalen Collins (lower back), defensive tackle Quentin Thomas (left arm) and defensive tackle LaCouture (left knee) suffered injuries, ESPN reported during the game.
Miles said LaCouture “should be fine,” but he was uncertain on Thomas’ status. Thomas is playing a torn biceps in his right arm.
Collins appeared to be hurt when he took a knee in the back during Prescott’s 56-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
LSU took an expected tumble in both polls Sunday.
After Saturday’s loss, the Tigers fell 10 spots to No. 18 in the coaches poll and nine spots to No. 17 in The Associated Press Top 25.
The Bulldogs (4-0) moved into the coaches’ rankings at No. 16 and moved all the way to No. 14 in the AP poll.
LSU’s plummet is its biggest drop in the coaches poll since falling 11 spots in 2008. The Tigers fell from No. 3 to No. 14 after a 51-21 loss at Florida that season.
The nine-spot fall is the Tigers’ biggest in the AP poll since 2004, when they dropped from No. 13 to No. 24 after a 45-16 loss at Georgia.
Advocate sportswriter Ross Dellenger contributed to this report.