STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Dak Prescott threw three touchdown passes and ran for another to lead No. 4 Mississippi State over Vanderbilt 51-0 on Saturday night.
It was a dominant performance by the Bulldogs (10-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 4 CFP), who finished undefeated at Davis Wade Stadium for the first time since 1999.
Prescott threw touchdown passes of 9, 27 and 14 yards and Christian Holmes ripped the ball out of Vanderbilt receiver Latevius Rayford’s hands before returning it 51 yards for a touchdown as the Bulldogs built a 37-0 lead by halftime.
It was the largest halftime lead for Mississippi State against an SEC opponent in program history. The Bulldogs now have 10 wins in the regular season for the first time.
Vanderbilt (3-8, 0-7) had three turnovers in the first half. The Commodores finished with just 228 total yards, including 49 on the ground.
Prescott completed 16 of 21 passes for 193 yards to rebound from one of the worst outings of his career last weekend, when he threw three interceptions in a 25-20 loss to Alabama. That loss dropped Mississippi State from the No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings to No. 4 in the four-team bracket.
Now the Bulldogs hope to stay there.
They probably earned some style points with Saturday’s victory, but still don’t control their destiny in the SEC’s Western Division. Mississippi State has to beat rival Mississippi next weekend — and Auburn must upset Alabama — for the Bulldogs to advance to Atlanta for the league championship game.
It was another rough game for the Commodores, who have lost all seven of their SEC games by double digits.
After looking a little more competitive in recent outings, this one was a disaster from the start. The Commodores used three different quarterbacks — Johnny McCrary, Patton Robinette and Stephen Rivers — to try to generate some offense, but McCrary and Robinette both threw an interception in the first half as Vanderbilt quickly fell into a gigantic hole.
McCrary completed 15 of 31 passes for 161 yards.
Every time the Commodores made a mistake, Mississippi State capitalized. The Bulldogs scored after all three of Vanderbilt’s turnovers and needed to punt only once in the first half.
MSU’s Josh Robinson ran for 63 yards on seven carries — all in the first half. Joe Morrow caught five passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Eleven Mississippi State receivers caught at least one pass.
Prescott’s four total touchdowns led the Bulldogs, but maybe more important is that the 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior didn’t turn the ball over. He had thrown eight interceptions over the previous five games.
Vanderbilt hasn’t beaten a top 10 team since topping No. 6 South Carolina in 2007.
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