When most college football fans think of the top power teams in the SEC, Mississippi State is rarely included in that list. Last season's 10-3 record that included a 6-2 mark in conference play has definitely helped to move the Bulldogs up that list heading into the 2015 season.
Their betting odds of 66/1 to win a national title on Bovada's futures board may not reflect this when you consider that there are seven other SEC teams ahead of them on the list, but do not tell that to Heisman hopeful quarterback Dak Presscott, who played a large role in his team's success last year. He is currently one of a handful of quarterbacks near the top of the list when it comes to Bovada's futures odds to win the 2015 Heisman Trophy at 12/1 betting odds to be named college football's best player. Both Ohio State's Braxton Miller and TCU's Trevone Boykin have better odds to take home this year's award, so the completion will be fierce.
Presscott will be entering his senior year with the Bulldogs and his second season as the team's primary starter. He saw very little action in his freshman year, and as a sophomore he threw for 1,940 yards and 10 touchdowns on a total of 156 attempts. Taking over the reins as the main man in head coach Dan Mullen's offense in 2014, he made an immediate impression with 284 passing yards and four touchdown throws in Mississippi State's 49-0 shutout of Southern Miss in the team's season opener. He started to really attract the Heisman voter's eyes when the Bulldogs rolled over LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn in their first three SEC games.
He took a step backwards in Miss State's tough 25-20 loss to Alabama to break up a perfect 9-0 start. Prescott completed 56.3 percent of his 48 passes for 290 yards and two scores against the Crimson Tide, but he was also picked off three times. He ended the season with a total of 3,449 passing yards and 27 touchdowns against a total of 11 interceptions. His overall completion percentage was 61.6 and his adjusted quarterback rating was 74.1.
Prescott went on to finish eighth in the final 2014 Heisman Trophy voting, but you know that he left a lasting impression on everyone involved heading into this year. At 6-foot-2, 230 lbs., he has already attracted quite a few NFL scouts with his prototypical size to play at the next level, but he will need to improve his overall game, especially when it comes to consistently hitting his target.
The good news heading into the 2015 season is that his favorite target from last season, De'Runnya Wilson, will be back in the starting lineup. These two hooked up for 47 times last year for 680 yards and nine touchdowns. The Bulldogs entire receiving corps runs deep, and overall this offense was ranked 23 rd in the nation last season in average passing yards per game (280.7). They also knew how to find the back of the end zone with an average of 36.9 points a game that was ranked 17th.
Mississippi State will once again open its season against Southern Miss, so Prescott should be able to light things up right from the start. He will face a big test in Week 2 in a nationally-broadcast battle against LSU at home, and on Sept. 26 the Bulldogs will go on the road to face Auburn, which is listed as a 9/1 third-favorite to win a National Championship this year. They will play host to Alabama on Nov. 14 and close things out in a traditional rivalry game against Ole Miss at home.
Playing in the SEC is actually in Prescott's favor to stay in the Heisman spotlight, but he is going to have to elevate his game even higher to actually have a shot to win. I'm not too sure that Miss State will be nearly as good as it was in 2014, but I still think that a small play on Prescott to win this year's Heisman is not the worst idea in the world.
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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