Dak Prescott didn't start the 2013 Egg Bowl, but the Mississippi State quarterback finished it, leading the Bulldogs to a 17-10 overtime victory over Ole Miss.
As noted by ESPN's SportsCenter, Prescott scored the winning touchdown in overtime to send the Rebels home with a bitter loss:
The sophomore quarterback didn't start the game after missing the past two with an elbow injury.
Freshman Bulldogs quarterback Damian Williams played the first three-plus quarters before getting benched in favor of Prescott, who wasn't 100 percent healthy, but he delivered when his team needed him to.
The first game-changing play occurred less than five minutes after kickoff. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace missed a wide-open receiver in the middle of the field when his ball sailed high and behind, opening up an opportunity for safety Nickoe Whitley to make one of the best one-handed interceptions of the season.
As noted by MSU Football, it was Whitley's 15th career interception, which is most among active players in the FBS:
Unfortunately, neither team could generate much in the way of offense early in the game, and the Bulldogs were unable to make the Rebels pay for the mistake with points.
On the next offensive possession for the Rebels, head coach Hugh Freeze turned to the running game to spark his team after Wallace's cold start.
Starting at their own three-yard line, Ole Miss engineered a 13-play drive to move all the way down to the Mississippi State 10-yard line thanks to 50 yards gained on the ground—25 of which was racked up by Robert Nkemdiche, who is a "load to handle," as described by Mississippi Gridiron:
But it was all for naught.
Kicker Andrew Ritter missed his 27-yard attempt, drilling the left upright, as noted by Matthew Stevens of The Commercial Dispatch:
After the first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie, David Brandt of the Associated Press provided an interesting stat that explained the lack of offensive fireworks in the game to that point:
According to Weather.com, the temperature was in the low 30s at Davis Wade Stadium at the time of the game, and the players on the field were certainly being affected by the bone-chilling temperature.
Wallace was picked off a second time late in the second quarter, backed up deep in Ole Miss territory. Richie Brown made a great play on a poorly conceived pass from Wallace, intercepting the pass to put the Bulldogs in scoring position.
Unfortunately for him, Laquon Treadwell ripped the ball out of his hands, forcing the second turnover of the play and giving the ball right back to the Rebels, as detailed by Ole Miss Football:
At this point in the proceedings, it appeared the football gods were firmly against any scoring happening in the game.
But just six plays later, Wallace tossed his third interception of the first half when Justin Cox made an acrobatic play on the right sideline to give Mississippi State the ball back at the Ole Miss 30-yard line.
Williams—who had been playing well to this point in the evening—then took temporary command of the game by running over, around and through the defense of the Rebels to the tune of 29 yards.
The drive was then capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Josh Robinson to put the Bulldogs up 7-0 before halftime, as relayed by Eye on College Football:
The Rebels were left with 96 seconds to try and answer before halftime, and answer they did, scoring a touchdown with just 70 seconds later. That tied the game 7-7, as MSU Football noted:
But as was the case all night long, it wasn't an offensive explosion that earned the Rebels their score. A three-and-out on offense led to a punt. Mississippi State failed to generate a first down, and then Ole Miss blocked the impending punt in the end zone for the score, as ESPN's SportsCenter showed:
At the half, the two teams had only managed to combine for 236 total yards of offense and 17 first downs, while their defenses forced four turnovers.
After struggling badly in the first half, Ole Miss quarterback Wallace came out firing darts to open the third quarter. He completed eight passes on 10 attempts for 47 yards, leading the Rebels on a 16-play drive that chewed up 81 total yards and over five minutes off the clock.
After Ritter made a 22-yard field goal, the Rebels led the game by three, 10-7.
The two teams traded punts a handful of times, and with the third quarter winding down, Michael Bonner of The Clarion-Ledger noted Mississippi State had only managed 13 total yards of offense:
The third quarter ended with Ole Miss leading 10-7, setting up a tense final quarter to what had been a brutal contest.
Williams started out the game with solid numbers, but he began to struggle more and more as the evening progressed. He got the Bulldogs started out on the wrong foot in the fourth quarter when he threw an ill-advised interception down the right sideline.
At this point in the game, Williams had completed eight of 18 passes for just 82 yards with zero touchdowns and an interception. After Cody Prewitt's interception, Dak Prescott started warming up on the sideline, as noted by Eye on College Football:
Prescott then entered the game with just over 11 minutes remaining in the game with his team down by three.
The two teams traded punts to get the clock down to 7:08, when Prescott and the Bulldogs started a drive from their own 22-yard line. Suddenly, with the talented dual-threat quarterback at the helm, Mississippi State's offense began to click like it hadn't all game long.
Prescott led a 12-play drive all the way down to the Rebels' 22-yard line, setting up a 36-yard field-goal attempt by Evan Sobiesk, who drilled the kick and tied the game at 10.
After forcing Ole Miss to punt, the Bulldogs then had just 65 seconds to win the game with a touchdown or field goal. Prescott led the offense methodically down the field from their own 34-yard line all the way to the Rebels' 36-yard line, setting up a critical 4th-and-10 play.
Prescott then threw a laser to De'Runnya Wilson on the left sideline for the first down, setting up a 39-yard field-goal attempt to win the game with two seconds left on the clock.
Sobiesk then pushed the field goal to the right, completely missing the uprights to send the game into overtime.
During overtime, Mississippi State took the ball first and scored a touchdown right off the bat to put pressure on Wallace and Ole Miss to respond in kind.
Prescott took the drive over, rushing for 16 yards, completing a clutch 14-yard pass to Jameon Lewis to set up 4th-and-1 and then scoring the go-ahead touchdown.
Then, to cap off a horrible night, Wallace fumbled the ball into the end zone to end the game with his fourth turnover of the night. That handed the Bulldogs an upset victory at home.
Damian Williams, QB, Mississippi State: C-
It might be unfair to expect a freshman to have a big game under the bright lights of the national spotlight—especially considering how he'd played before the Egg Bowl.
Heading into the game, Williams had failed to throw a touchdown in 27 attempts, tossing one interception back in early September against Alcorn State. He didn't do any better on Thursday night, completing just 44.44 percent of his passes for 82 yards (4.6 yards per attempt) with zero touchdowns and one interception.
Williams played so poorly that the Bulldogs pulled him in favor of Prescott, who suited up for the first time in two weeks after injuring his elbow against Texas A&M.
Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss: D-
On a cold night on the road, Wallace failed his team badly.
The junior signal-caller was able to compete 26 of his 40 attempts for 182 yards with zero touchdowns, three interceptions and the game-losing fumble in the end zone during overtime.
He was inaccurate throughout most of the night, barring a five-minute drive to open the third quarter. Wallace's poor play was the reason the Rebels lost this game.
Dak Prescott, RB, Mississippi State: A
Here I come to save the day!
Prescott was unbelievable in this game.
Coming into the contest in the fourth quarter with his team down by three points, Prescott took the game over and bent the outcome to his will.
Prescott finished the game with 115 yards passing and another 29 yards and a touchdown on the ground, leading two scoring drives in the final minutes of the game to lead his team to a huge victory.
And at least one fan is thankful for him on this day of Thanksgiving:
This was the final regular-season game for both teams.
With the big win, Mississippi State became bowl-eligible, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info:
Both teams will now await information determining which bowl—if any—they will compete in during the December holidays.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78