STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen found out his program had earned its first No. 1 ranking in school history Sunday morning during a leisurely brunch with his wife and kids.
The Bulldogs have earned a little time for rest and relaxation.
No. 1 Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) gets to take deep breath following a shocking rise to the top spot in the national rankings. The Bulldogs don’t play again until a road game against Kentucky on Oct. 25.
“We’re going to get to enjoy this week,” Mullen said. “For this being the first time ever that the school is No. 1, it’s probably good not having to deal with that pressure right away.”
It took Mississippi State just five weeks to move from an unranked team to the No. 1 spot in the rankings — the quickest rise in the 78-year history of the AP poll. The Bulldogs have won three straight over top-10 teams, beating then-No. 2 Auburn 38-23 on Saturday.
In the process, quarterback Dak Prescott has earned some Heisman Trophy consideration. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior has thrown for 1,478 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions and has run for 576 yards and eight touchdowns.
He has a good supporting cast: Josh Robinson is second in the SEC with 689 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, and De’Runnya Wilson, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, has six touchdown catches.
Prescott wasn’t at his best against Auburn, throwing two interceptions. But he still had a productive game, finishing with 246 yards passing, 121 yards rushing and three total touchdowns.
Mississippi State took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, but then had four turnovers during the remainder of the first half, allowing Auburn to climb back into the game.
The Tigers couldn’t finish the comeback, though. Mississippi State’s defense forced four turnovers — including an interception by Justin Cox late in the fourth quarter that ended any Auburn hope.
“I had one of my subpar games of the season, and I didn’t play very well,” Prescott said. “My teammates rallied around me and did a great job of making plays.”
Mullen said there will be plenty of areas the Bulldogs can work on during the off week. They also hope top receiver Jameon Lewis returns after missing the past two games with a leg injury.
The Bulldogs have a reasonable schedule over the next month, traveling to face Kentucky before home games against Arkansas and Tennessee-Martin.
Mullen said he hopes his experience as Florida’s offensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008 can help the Bulldogs deal with the scrutiny that comes with being a No. 1 team. The Gators won two national championships during Mullen’s time in Gainesville.
“We have several guys on this coaching staff who have been in that situation so I don’t think there will be any awe,” Mullen said. “But we certainly all appreciate it and understand how hard it is to get to No. 1 and how hard it will be to stay there.”
Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.