By Kedrick Storey
STARKVILLE – Speculation on whether quareterback Dak Prescott would play against Alabama was put to rest when the junior emerged from the locker room before the game in street clothes.
Prescott, who has started six games for the Bulldogs, suffered a left shoulder injury late in last week’s loss to to Texas A&M. He had an MRI on Wednesday.
In Prescott’s absence, Tyler Russell drew his fourth start of the year and managed the game well until he suffered an apparent shoulder injury trying to make a tackle on his fourth-quarter interception.
He gave it a go for one more series, but was replaced by freshman Damian Williams with 9:44 remaining. Russell finished 15-of-24 for 144 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
Water-cooler talk will surely focus on what the outcome could have been if Prescott was available. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said “we expected to win the game” in his postgame comments. The Mississippi State defense played possibly its best game of the season, forcing four turnovers and keeping the No. 1 team in the country largely at bay. The offense simply did not do enough to complement their play.
The two-quarterback system Mullen said he would use for the remainder of the season would have fit nicely with such a performance by the defense.
The Bulldogs came away empty-handed on a critical first-half drive that could have given them an early lead. They drove to the Alabama 4-yard line – a prime location for the running ability of Prescott – before Ladarius Perkins was stopped for no gain on back-to-back plays and two incomplete passes by Russell led to a field goal attempt.
That kick was missed with 5:30 left to play in the half.
Alabama later scored a touchdown with 20 seconds to play in the half for a 10-0 lead.