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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI Sports) – Before the season started, Mississippi State knew it had a pretty good defense and it thought senior quarterback Tyler Russell and senior running back LaDarius Perkins would be the focal points offensively. Well, the defense proved stellar at times but offensively, it was a bumpy road.

Russell and sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott had too many injuries to count. Head coach Dan Mullen even had to turn to freshman Damian Williams for stretches. Replacing Chad Bumphis proved difficult as the lone receiving bright spot was junior Jameon Lewis.

The result was success against inferior teams but an inability to keep up with ranked teams for a full 60 minutes. Entering late November, the Bulldogs beat teams that never cracked the top 25 during the year by an average of over 26 points, including racking up 62 points on Troy. The losses all came to teams that saw a ranking attached to their name: Oklahoma State, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama. Though the Crimson Tide had a game on its hands against the Bulldogs as State forced four turnovers.

A must-win game at Arkansas went MSU’s way. That set up an Egg Bowl that had both bragging rights and bowl eligibility on the line. Thanksgiving night, with all its frigidness and surprises, brought the game Bulldog fans will remember most in 2013. A truly heroic, fourth-quarter, return from injury by Prescott saved the game. It was a late drive, and a touchdown to begin overtime from Prescott, whose mother died earlier in the year, that put the Bulldogs ahead.

With the Golden Egg back in Starkville, the focus turned to playing Rice in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. It was supposed to be a somewhat close game, but State cooked Rice to the degree of a 44-7 final score.

11 offensive records were set this year, though many questions remain for 2014. Will the Dak attack be the key this coming year? We’ll have to wait a few more months to find out.

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