The Mississippi State Bulldogs left little doubt as to who was the better team in Saturday night’s Magnolia State showdown, routing in-state rival Southern Miss 49-0 at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville.

Here are five takeaways from the Bulldogs blowout victory Saturday:

  • The Mississippi State defense is deep and loaded with talent: More than 20 different players recorded a tackle for the Mississippi State defense, which held Southern Miss to less than 300 yards of total offense and only 71 rushing yards for the game. The Bulldogs’ defense forced three turnovers, not counting a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown in the third quarter; although the block occurred on special teams, a defensive starter blocked the kick (Preston Smith) and returned it to the house (Jay Hughes). Hughes and Smith also registered interceptions for the game, and MSU recovered a Golden Eagles’ fumble in the first half. What was most impressive was Southern Miss’ 4-of-18 success rate on third downs, proving the Bulldogs’ defense was virtually unbeatable in tight situations.
  • Josh Robinson played like a featured back: Robinson ran for 87 yards on 14 carries Saturday night, an average of 6.2 yards per carry. He sat most of the second half with the game firmly out of USM’s reach, but ran hard and took on contact at every opportunity, stealing extra yards while wearing down the Golden Eagles’ defense. Robinson also caught three passes out of the backfield for 49 yards, adding another threat to his game. If Saturday night was any indication, Robinson and quarterback Dak Prescott could be one of the SEC’s top rushing tandems this season.
  • Prescott was a better passer than runner against USM: Last season Prescott looked like a run-first quarterback, leading Mississippi State with 829 yards rushing in 2013. Saturday night he ran just eight times for 23 yards, but set single-game career highs in passing yards with 284 and passing touchdowns with four. He completed 18-of-26 passes, a 69 percent completion rate, and made just one bad mistake with an interception in the end zone in the first half. Prescott did not allow the pick to affect him the rest of the game, and actually threw three of his four touchdown passes after his interception. If Prescott can continue to prove he is as much a threat as a passer as he is a rusher, it could go a long way toward earning him the national notoriety many Bulldogs’ fans feel he deserves.
  • The Bulldogs are deeper at WR than expected: Most fans knew about MSU wideout Jameon Lewis, who led the team in receiving a season ago. But Lewis was only on the receiving end of three of the Bulldogs’ 23 completions, amassing just 25 yards through the air. Six other MSU skill players had more receiving yards than Lewis by the end of the game, including De’Runnya Wilson (4 catches, 65 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Fred Ross (3 catches, 61 yards, 2 touchdowns).Prescott will have plenty of weapons on offense to spread the ball to, leaving more opportunities for Lewis to attack defenses as the SEC’s best gadget player.
  • Place kicker remains an uncertainty: Neither Westin Graves nor Evan Sobiesk played poorly Saturday, but neither had many options to prove his worth as the Bulldogs’ kicker. Sobiesk was 4-of-4 on extra points, and Graves was 3-of-3 on extra points, but Graves also missed MSU’s lone field goal attempt from 40 yards away. It should be noted the snap and hold preceding the field goal were both poor, perhaps throwing off Graves’ timing, but Mullen still has very little to go off in trying to decide on one primary kicker.