(AP) — Dak Prescott threw for a touchdown, rushed for two more and even caught a 36-yard touchdown pass, rumbling downfield behind a convoy of blockers during Mississippi State's dominant 62-7 victory over Troy on Saturday night.
He certainly looked like a starting Southeastern Conference quarterback.
His coach still needs some convincing.
Prescott finished with 233 passing yards and 53 rushing yards as the Bulldogs piled up 551 total yards. The diverse and efficient performance was matched by Jameon Lewis, who caught a 50-yard touchdown pass, rushed for an 8-yard touchdown and threw the 36-yard touchdown that Prescott caught on a trick play.
Mullen was pleased with the team's all-around performance, but didn't heap on too much praise.
"The perception might be that we found a lot of answers tonight," Mullen said. "But the reality is we've got a long way to go. We're going to take this film and learn from it. But we're going to be able to do that with a big smile on our faces."
Prescott started his third straight game in place of Tyler Russell, who suffered a concussion in the opener against Oklahoma State and hasn't played since. Prescott started against Troy even though Mullen said Russell had been cleared to play on Thursday.
But during postgame comments, Mullen said he expects Russell to return as the starter after the upcoming bye week when the Bulldogs play LSU on Oct. 5.
Prescott had no problem with Mullen's statement.
"(Russell is) the leader of our team," Prescott said. "When he's ready to go, we'll all rally behind him."
Mississippi State (2-2) led 10-7 after the first quarter, but erupted for 35 points in the second to take a 45-7 halftime lead.
Troy (2-2) never recovered from a brutal second quarter. Corey Robinson, who is the NCAA's active leader in career passing yards, completed 15 of 25 passes for just 105 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
It was the most points Mississippi State has scored in a game since 1994.
Mississippi State's Jamerson Love started the scoring with a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"We focused all week on disguising coverages," Love said. "It's all about our disguises and getting to the quarterback, getting in his face."
Besides Prescott and Lewis, Mississippi State didn't have many players with big individual numbers. That's because just about any Bulldog who touched the ball produced. Ten players caught a pass and nine had at least one rushing attempt.
The exclamation point on the night came early in the second quarter, when Prescott threw a lateral to Lewis, who took off to run before throwing the ball back across the field to Prescott. The quarterback had a convoy of blockers and cruised 36 yards to the end zone to give the Bulldogs a 17-7 lead.
The Troy-Mississippi State series has traditionally been close, with the Trojans even earning one of the biggest wins in school history over the Bulldogs in 2001.
But this one turned ugly by halftime. Mississippi State never even had to punt.
The highlight of the Trojans' night came when Robinson hit Eric Thomas on a 5-yard touchdown pass, which cut Mississippi State's lead to 10-7 with six seconds remaining in the first quarter.
But the Bulldogs responded with five touchdowns in the second quarter, overwhelming Troy with an avalanche of big plays. Prescott rushed for touchdowns of 22 and 11 yards during the rally and Mississippi had 349 total yards by halftime.
"The only way to get over it is to get back to work and win a game," Troy coach Larry Blakeney said.
It was a welcome breakout for Mississippi State's offense, which ranked 13th out of 14 SEC teams in scoring coming into the night.
Prescott's performance would seem to earn him more playing time.
Mullen came to Mississippi State five years ago after being the offensive coordinator at Florida during most of the Tim Tebow era, and Prescott's skill set is similar.