The Mississippi State Bulldogs locked down a monumental victory 48-31 over Texas A&M in Starkville on Saturday, improving to 5-0 while giving itself a great chance at moving into the top 10 of Sunday’s updated AP Poll. The Bulldogs are one of three remaining unbeatens in the grueling SEC West, along with cross-state rival Ole Miss and defending conference champion Auburn.

Here are five takeaways from the Bulldogs huge win over the Aggies:

  1. It’s time to start buying into the Mississippi State hype. Dan Mullen’s teams have done this before — opening a season as hot as any team in the nation, only to fade down the stretch when the going gets tough. Not this year, though. The Bulldogs win on Saturday, their second in a row over a top 10 team, cemented them among the best teams in the nation. Mississippi State had plenty working against it on Saturday in playing without Jameon Lewis and Dillon Day in facing one of the SEC’s hottest teams, but it didn’t just beat A&M, it BEAT A&M. Few teams in America could do what Mississippi State did on Saturday, and that needs to be appreciated for what it is. As we near the midway point of the season, the Bulldogs are a force to be reckoned with, and a true contender to win the SEC West. The LSU win was no fluke, this team is officially for real.
  2. It’s time to start believing in Dak Prescott’s Heisman chances. Prescott accounted for five total touchdowns in Saturday’s win, picking apart the Texas A&M defense with both his arm and his legs. He found success on a number of design quarterback runs, and rarely made a mistake through the air in completing 76 percent of his passes without an interception. Heck, Prescott even caught a pass for the fourth time in his career, with all four coming on virtually the same play (opposing defenses refuse to learn their lesson). The Bulldogs quarterback looks like an obvious first team All-SEC selection, and could be among the most complete players in America. This is a veteran MSU team, but it all begins and ends with Prescott as the emotional and psychological leader, in addition to being the most talented player on the roster. If Prescott’s game Saturday wasn’t a Heisman moment, then I don’t know what is.
  3. Josh Robinson will finally start earning the respect he’s deserved all along. Robinson had been sensational for Mississippi State as its primary tailback all season, and the same was true in State’s biggest game of the year Saturday. The nation took notice as Robinson ran for more than 70 yards and two touchdowns on Mississippi State’s first two drives to give the Bulldogs an early 14-7 lead. Fans saw Robinson at his best, bowling over defenders and brushing off contact on hard-nosed run after hard-nosed run, earning every tough yard as Mississippi State asserted its dominance. Robinson’s performance tapered off in the second half as other backs got their turn to shine, but he’ll certainly be appreciated as one of the best runners in the SEC as MSU moves forward from Saturday’s win.
  4. The Mississippi State offensive line held up better than expected without Dillon Day. He may just be one lineman, but Day is the heart and soul of the Mississippi State offensive line. He is a four-year starter at center with a wealth of experience, and overwhelming level of passion and a knowledge of how to approach opposing defensive fronts. Day is a superb blocker, but more importantly he is the man who calls many of MSU’s  protections up front, leaving the Bulldogs in a bit of an awkward situation in his absence. Mississippi State didn’t blink in Day’s absence, running the ball at will while keeping Prescott relatively clean all game, especially as the game wore on. The Bulldogs could have failed up front without Day, potentially costing Mississippi State a chance at the critical West victory, but the line rose to the challenge and put forth an inspiring performance to help create a magical afternoon in Starkville for fans of the Maroon & White.
  5. The Mississippi State secondary is not as bad as we thought, but the Aggies wideouts played their part in the loss, too. Mississippi State had given up the most long pass plays of anyone in the SEC, while A&M had completed more long passes than anyone in the conference. Advantage A&M, right? Wrong. The Bulldogs secondary limit the Aggies big plays for much of the day, helping hold A&M to just 31 points for the game. Mississippi State was never beaten over the top, which is a huge step in the right direction for a secondary that had been burned far too many times. However, A&M also dropped a ton of passes (close to a dozen) to let the MSU off the hook on a few blown coverages throughout the game. Mississippi State got its hands on a few Aggies passes to contain the A&M offense, but the Aggies did just as much to contain themselves in a defining game for both teams. Mississippi State’s secondary still isn’t where it wants to be, but it’s getting there.