|TideSports College Football Preview|
Dak Prescott left Mississippi State as the most decorated player in school History. He was the second player in SEC history to throw for 8,500 yards while rushing for 2,000 yards. Overall, he owns 38 school records, 15 of which are career marks. He also has the best winning percentage as a starter in school history.
But all of that is history.
Nick Fitzgerald stepped into the almost impossible role of following Prescott last season. He led the Bulldogs to a 6-7 record and a win in the St. Petersburg Bowl, in which he was named MVP. He accounted 37 total touchdowns, 16 of which were rushing.
He finished with 1,375 rushing yards, which led the team by almost 700 yards, and was second in the SEC. He broke two single-season rushing records, recording eight 100-yard rushing games as a quarterback and averaging 7.1 yards per rush.
He’s back to lead Mississippi State in 2017.
“Since the day he’s got on campus, he was our most athletic quarterback,” head coach Dan Mullen said at SEC Media Days this summer. “We knew he was a great runner. He ran a lot of wishbone in High School. So when you get into making decisions in the run game, that that was going to be very natural for him.”
Fitzgerald also threw for 2,423 yards, eighth-best in the SEC, but finished fourth in the league in passing touchdowns with 21.
“I knew he had a really strong arm. So it was going to be how he adapted to playing every day, his decision-making within the pass game,” Mullen said. “I think from game one to the final game of the season, you saw a great deal of improvement with him doing those things and understanding the system.”
Mississippi State opens at home against Charleston Southern on Sept. 2.
Sept. 2; Charleston Southern
Sept. 9; at Louisiana Tech
Sept. 16; LSU
Sept. 23; at Georgia
Sept. 30; at Auburn
Oct. 14; BYU
Oct. 21; Kentucky
Oct. 28; at Texas A&M
Nov. 4; UMass
Nov. 11; Alabama
Nov. 18; Arkansas
Nov. 23; Ole Miss
2016 record: 6-7 (3-5 Conf./ tied for 5th in SEC West)
All-time SEC Championships: 1
All-time bowl appearances: 20 (12-8)
Sept. 3; South Alabama; L, 20-21
Sept. 10; South Carolina; W, 27-14
Sept. 17; at LSU; L, 20-23
Sept. 24; at UMass; W, 47-35
Oct. 8; Auburn; L,14-38
Oct. 14; at BYU; L, 21-28 2OT
Oct. 22; at Kentucky; L, 38-40
Oct. 29; Samford; W, 56-41
Nov. 5; Texas A&M; W, 35-28
Nov. 12; at Alabama; L,3-51
Nov. 19; Arkansas; L, 42-58
Nov. 26; at Ole Miss; W,55-20
Dec. 26; vs Miami (OH); W, 17-16*
* St. Petersburg Bowl
Starters returning: 20
Starters lost: 10