MSU’s Ability to Just Be “Close” in Big Games

There are not many Mississippi State fans who seriously believe that we are, or should be, to the point of contending for the SEC West. There are many, however, who would like to see us pull an upset. Even more who would just like to see us play some close, competitive games against quality teams. I was interested to see often we’ve been able to do that under Mullen, so I took to the giant book of statistics for answers.

My criteria for being “close” is simple: was MSU within 7 points (a touchdown) of the other team with 5 minutes to go in the game? The only games I counted were against BCS teams who ended their season with 6 wins or more (this is a pretty low bar, mind you).

Aug 31, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys offensive linesman Jake Jenkins (54) snaps the ball during the third quarter against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 31, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys offensive linesman Jake Jenkins (54) snaps the ball during the third quarter against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start out in year one of the Mullen era, 2009 (these are the scores with 5 minutes to go in the game, MSU’s score first):

  • 24-42 vs. Auburn
  • 24-30 vs. #7 LSU 
  • 24-42 vs. #25 Georgia Tech
  • 13-29 vs. #1 Florida
  • 24-24 vs. Kentucky
  • 3-31 vs. #3 Alabama
  • 21-35 vs. Arkansas
  • 41-20 vs. #20 Ole Miss

2010

  • 14-17 vs. #21 Auburn
  • 7-29 vs. #15 LSU
  • 24-6 vs. Georgia
  • 10-7 vs. #22 Florida
  • 24-17 vs. Kentucky
  • 10-30 vs. #11 Alabama
  • 21-31 vs. #13 Arkansas (went into 2OT)
  • 52-14 vs. Michigan

2011

  • 34-41 vs. Auburn
  • 6-16 vs. #3 LSU
  • 10-24 vs. Georgia
  • 10-7 vs. #15 South Carolina
  • 7-17 vs. #4 Alabama
  • 10-37 vs. #6 Arkansas
  • 23-14 vs. Wake Forest

2012

  • 0-38 vs. #1 Alabama
  • 13-38 vs. #16 Texas A&M
  • 17-30 vs. #9 LSU
  • 17-41 vs. Ole Miss
  • 20-34 vs. #21 Northwestern

2013

  • 3-21 vs. #13 Oklahoma State
  • 20-17 vs. Auburn
  • 26-52 vs. #10 LSU
  • 10-31 vs. #14 South Carolina

All of the games in bold are the ones in which MSU was close near the end of the game. As you can see there is quite a dip from Mullen’s first two years to his last three, especially ’12 and ’13. Overall, MSU has been close against decent teams 13 of 32 times (42%). During the first two years Mullen was close in 9 of 16 games (56%). In the final three years it has dropped to 4 of 16 (25%). Over the last 1.5 years that’s dropped even further to 1 of 9 (11%).

Mississippi State’s record in all of the above games is 7-25. So that’s 7-25 vs. any BCS team State has played that won at least 6 games that season. Since 2011 it’s 1-15, and 0-9 since 2012.

Texas A&M fits this bill as they are 7-2 so far this season. It’s another stiff test for the Bulldogs. Can they hang in there and make a game out of it?

 

Topics: Mississippi State Bulldogs

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