Today's the Day


Well, the season starts today. This is a really big year for Mississippi State football. When I started following MSU football, Jackie Sherrill had just become the coach and he led State to the Liberty Bowl in his first year. State went 33-15 from 1997-2000 and won the SEC West in 1998. In 2001, State was preseason ranked #18 and there were very high exceptions; but Sherrill’s long list of JUCO transfers didn’t pan out and the bottom fell out of that season, and the next, and the next, and so Sherrill retired. Sly Croom spent 4 years re-molding State’s roster to get it out of the black hole and MSU finally made it back to a bowl in 2007, after missing one in each of the previous six years. In ’08, expectations were high with an easy schedule and a lot of returning starters but Croom couldn’t deliver and State went 4-8. So he resigned and Dan Mullen came in, going 5-7 with the toughest schedule in ’09 and then 9-4 last year with one of the toughest schedules in the country. So expectations are high for 2011, only the 3rd time in the last 10 years.

Mississippi State has the easiest non-conference schedule, and if they are not able to go 4-0 in it, that would be a big disappointment. Then there are two SEC games in which State should have more experience and/or talent: Ole Miss & Kentucky. So at the very minimum MSU should be able to go 6-6 and return to a bowl game. Anything less than that would be a very big disappointment.

The other 6 games are Auburn, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Arkansas. Three at home and three on the road. If State wants to be considered a team in the top half of the SEC, we need to win at least two of these games and take the home games down to the wire….which was done last year. A 7-5 year would be acceptable, but another 8-4 year is more like it. If Mullen can improve and go 9-3, that would be awesome, and if State can go 10-2 I think everyone would consider 2011 an exceptional year.

But the great thing about 2011 is that MSU fans can go into the season knowing the football team has a chance in every game, and there is a small chance out there that State could win the West. This may not be the year for that, but hopefully it is a successful one that will allow Mullen to keep moving up towards that goal of winning the West and the SEC.

A bold prediction: The South Carolina game will be a matchup between Top 10 teams.

As for tonight’s game, I think State will dominate a weak Memphis team from the kickoff, and even cover the 27 point spread. 56-10 Dawgs.