Can Mississippi State break out in 2014? 

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
9:05
AM ET
Dak PrescottMichael Chang/Getty ImagesLed by QB Dak Prescott, the Bulldogs could surprise in the SEC in 2014.
As we count down 50 days until the start of the 2014 college football season, ESPN Insider Travis Haney is answering at least one big question a day until South Carolina and Texas A&M’s kickoff on Aug. 28.

Heisman contenders, breakout freshmen, conference winners – it will all be covered as part of Insider’s Ultimate Season Preview.


Today’s question: How can the Mississippi State Bulldogs become this year’s breakout SEC team?

When I talked last summer with Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, he bemoaned the lack of veteran leadership on his team. He spent about 10 or 15 seconds going through the roster in his mind, trying to think of scholarship seniors who would actually play in 2013. He came up with six, and a list that included at least one specialist.

“It’s something we are missing,” Mullen told me then, referring to the team's lack of an experienced leader.

Things have changed since then. I view Mississippi State as the SEC’s most viable sleeper in 2014. If there is an Auburn or Missouri story in the SEC in 2014, I think it's the Bulldogs.

Here's why they can make a leap this season:

Dak attack

If you haven’t noticed, there aren't many returning QBs in the SEC this year.

Dak Prescott, a name only now becoming familiar to the region (let alone to the country), could very well be the second-team SEC QB behind the Auburn Tigers' Nick Marshall. (Bo Wallace could receive votes