For the first time in 12 years, No. 19 Ole Miss found a way to win in Starkville. The Rebels used a 21-0 lead early in the first quarter to cruise past No. 23 Mississippi State 38-27 on Saturday night at Davis-Wade Stadium.
What we learned: MSU (8-4, 4-4) has holes to fill if they want to compete nationally. The talent level was strong at skill positions, especially wide receiver and defensive line, but MSU lacks in the trenches on offense.
Against LSU, Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss, MSU fought against elite pass rushers and they lost most of those battles. The Rebels whipped the Bulldogs on the front lines and quarterback Dak Prescott spent the night running for his life or throwing quick passes.
Ole Miss defensive linemen Robert Nkemdiche, Channing Ward, Marquis Haynes and others made plays up front in one-on-one battles and sacked Prescott seven times. Prescott also threw a pick six to cornerback Tony Bridges after getting flushed out of the pocket, trailing 21-0.
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The Bulldogs have talent returning next season on both sides of the ball including the offensive line, but it's still uncertain if the group can be productive. The Bulldogs had their worst running game in years due to the lack of holes opening up on the line. It's hard to imagine what Prescott could have done this season with last season's offensive line.
For the Bulldogs to continue to climb as a program, recruiting offensive linemen is an area that coach Dan Mullen and his staff should reassess.
What's next: The Bulldogs learn their bowl destination coming next Sunday. MSU appear to have options in Charlotte, Houston, Nashville and Tampa.