Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott joins FBS elite in bowl win vs. NC State

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rain fell in sheets over Bank of America Stadium, but cow bells were clanged and thundersticks were clapped as poncho-clad fans braved the elements to watch Mississippi State beat North Carolina State 51-28 in the Belk Bowl. 

The National Weather Service reported two to three inches rain fall in a 12-hour span, leading to a flash flood warning and the soggiest conditions imaginable for the players on the field. The impact of the rain was felt from the very beginning, as NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett lost control of a short pass on the first drive, floating the ball well short of his target and into the hands of a Mississippi State defender. 

Dak Prescott was much more successful in the rain, completing 25 of 42 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. When NC State's coverage broke down or a Mississippi State receiver was able to get a bit of separation, Prescott was there to deliver the perfect pass -- his five pass plays of 20-plus yards were more pass than run after the catch -- and when NC State was in the right spot to make a stop, he welcomed contact as the team's leading rusher for the game. 

Story of the game: Mississippi State looked a little bit bigger and a little bit better, and I think that might be reflective of where these two programs are right now. Dan Mullen is in his seventh year as the Bulldogs coach, and this particular group of seniors is the second-most successful senior class in school history. Dave Doeren, on the other hand, is only his third year as head coach of the Wolfpack and had 12 underclassmen starting in the bowl game.

Program building takes time, and while Mississippi State is where NC State certainly can be in a few years -- competing for division and conference titles with the blue bloods of a wildly competitive league -- it's not where the Wolfpack are now. The Wolfpack did a great job of hitting big plays, battling through the elements and a deficit that lasted the entire game, but Mississippi State was in control of the outcome from opening kickoff to the final gun. 

Player of the game: There's no question, right? It has to be Dak Prescott. The senior set a Belk Bowl record with 380 passing yards, breaking Duke quarterback Sean Renfree's record from 2012, and set a new Belk Bowl record for total offense with 427 yards.  

In the third quarter, Prescott became the fourth player in FBS history to reach the 9,000-2,500 club (9,000 passing yards, 2,500 rushing yards in a career). Tim Tebow, under the guidance of then-assistant Dan Mullen, also accomplished the feat, as did Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick. 

Highlight of the game: Either North Dakota State has made the jump from FCS and it making its FBS debut in the Belk Bowl against Mississippi State or the officials made a mistake on the microphone. We think it's the latter, but we'll check back on Jan. 9 to make sure the Bison don't start the FCS championship game against Jacksonville State with one less timeout. 

Tweet(s) of the game: First of all, we need to highlight our friends at the Belk Bowl. The Belk Bowl has one of the best Twitter accounts to follow in college football and stands out among its bowl peers. For Wednesday's game, the account tweeted in all caps. Why? Because with Mississippi State's cow bells and NC State's "STATEment" thunder sticks it was "the loudest bowl game in college football." 

And now, a bulldog in a poncho. 


Grade: I cannot discredit the Belk Bowl because of the elements. Dak Prescott's performance more than made up for the rain, and since many bowl fans are watching from the comforts of their own home I'm sure that a majority of those invested in this game loved the show. Grade: D(A)K

Dak Prescott joined the 9,000-2,500 club in the Belk Bowl. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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