Dec 31, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen and Rice Owls head coach David Bailiff after the game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs beat Rice Owls 44 - 7. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

2014 SEC West Prediction: 3rd Place Mississippi State

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March is finally here, and spring practice for most schools is just around the corner. So why not go ahead and predict what each football team will do in 2014? It’s early obviously, and these predictions might change depending on any injuries, suspensions, or dismissals. Up next is 3rd Place, our very own Bulldogs.

In 2012, Mississippi State started as strong as possible, going 7-0 before crashing back down to Earth. We lost 5 of our final six game, none of which were all that competitive, and we were reeling entering the 2013 season. After looking very pedestrian through the first seven games, the Bulldogs played valiantly in 2 of their next 3 losses but still came up short and needed wins against Arkansas and Ole Miss to be bowl eligible. They got both of those in overtime and completely dismantled Rice in theLiberty Bowl. What will 2014 look like? Let’s look at the schedule.

The Schedule

Mississippi State 2014 Schedule
Win Loss
Saturday Southern Miss Golden Eagles 1
Aug. 30 Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
Saturday UAB Blazers 2
Sept. 6 Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
Saturday at South Alabama Jaguars 3
Sept. 13 Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL
Saturday at LSU Tigers 1
Sept. 20 Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Saturday Open Date
Sept. 27
Saturday Texas A&M Aggies 4
Oct. 4 Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
Saturday Auburn Tigers 2
Oct. 11 Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
Saturday Open Date
Oct. 18
Saturday at Kentucky Wildcats 5
Oct. 25 Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY
Saturday Arkansas Razorbacks 6
Nov. 1 Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
Saturday UT Martin Skyhawks (HC) 7
Nov. 8 Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
Saturday at Alabama Crimson Tide 3
Nov. 15 Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
Saturday Vanderbilt Commodores 8
Nov. 22 Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
Saturday at Ole Miss Rebels 9
Nov. 29 Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS

 

Finally, after two years of getting bashed over the head in the second half of the season, we get a reprieve. The Bulldogs shouldn’t have any problems entering the game against LSU 3-0. I think LSU will sport the same record, but they will look shaky doing so. That will lead lots of talk about this being the year we could finally get the LSU monkey off of our back.

I just don’t think it will happen.

For whatever reason, we just can’t seem to beat the Tigers. Honestly, there isn’t a game on the schedule I want us to win more than that one. If it plays out like that, expect there to be lots of talk about Dan Mullen not being able to take Misissippi State to the next level. They will probably be underdogs against Texas A&M, and may or may not be ranked when we play the Aggies. I expect the Aggies to be ranked though, and that’s when Dan Mullen makes a little bit of noise. He puls the upset in Starkville, and the Aggies will then start to unravel.

After pulling the upset of Texas A&M, Auburn brings us back down to Earth, and rolls into Starkville with a win. The next three games shouldn’t be all that difficult before we head to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. Alabama will be looking to prove a bunch of people that they are the same Crimson Tide they have always been, and they beat us without much difficulty.

The Vanderbilt game doesn’t worry me too much at this point. They have a new head coach who had almost no signing class thanks to James Franklin’s departure to Penn State. They will get better, but it may take a few years.

Then comes the Egg Bowl, and the game will be extremely important for both teams. Ole Miss will enter with a 9-2 record with the opportunity to prove that behind the recruiting of Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss is on the cusp of being a national contender. Mississippi State will enter wanting to prove that they are on the upward tick, just like their rivals up north. As I said in my piece yesterday, I think these two teams will be very similar which always favors the home team, but I am going to go with the team who has  the quarterback I trust more, and that is Dak Prescott.

If it plays out like this, I think Mississippi State fans will view the 2014 season much like Ole Miss fans will. It would be the first time since 1999 that a Mississippi State team finished the regular season with 9 wins, and it would be the first year under Dan Mullen that we finished with a winning record in conference play. They will be happy and think of it fondly, but they will see opportunities where we missed, especially seeing how LSU will finish. As for Dak’s Heisman chances? If it goes like this, I don’t think he will have much of a chance. Besides putting up monstrous stats, Heisman winners that don’t compete for the national title have to have signature moments against great teams, much like Johnny Manziel did in 2012 against Alabama. Texas A&M won’t be a good enough opponent in the long run for it to be viewed that way, and while it will be a great win over Ole Miss, it won’t reach the caliber that it needs to be for Dak to be named the Heisman. It wouldn’t surprise me though to see him be named First Team All SEC if it all plays out like this. For Mississippi State to win 9 games, it will take a big year from Dak.

The one thing about the upcoming 2014 season that I do believe is that we will have a legitimate chance in every game. If we could find a way to win in Baton Rouge and beat Auburn in Starkville, the sky would be the limit for the Bulldogs. I would give anything to trade the date we played Alabama with Ole Miss. I think one of the reasons that Ole Miss might pull the upset is because Alabama will still be trying to figure things out early in the season and it will leave them ripe for being picked off. By the time we get them in game #10, they will probably have a lot of those issues worked out. I firmly believe it will be a really good year for the Bulldogs, and there is a chance it will be one of our best ever.

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