Quick Thoughts on the Season


Before the year started we said at the very least Mississippi State should go 6-6. They accomplished the very least. So you might not say they under-performed, but you wouldn’t say the season was a complete success either. The good news is, MSU has reached a level where they are consistently better than the lower tier teams in the SEC and of course non-BCS schools. The bad news is, MSU was not able to beat any quality SEC teams.

Most pre-season prognosticators figured State for a 7-5 team this year. Most State fans figured for a 8-4 or 9-3 season being optimistic. In reality, with five 10-win teams on the schedule 7-5 was pretty accurate. The one that got away was Auburn. MSU outplayed the Tigers on that day and should’ve won.  What’s more, Auburn was well below MSU statistically this year so State should’ve beaten them.  In the end, bowl positioning would probably be the same whether the Bulldogs won that game or not. But there’s a monkey on Mullen’s back that keeps growing and a win in Auburn would’ve killed it for a while.

Here’s MSU’s strength of schedule in 2011 within the SEC:

Toughest SEC schedules   Opponent’s Record                   Winning Percentage

1. Tennessee                          41-23                                            .641
2. Mississippi State                    40-24                                                      .625
3. Auburn                               39-25                                            .609
4. Ole Miss                              38-26                                           .594
5. Florida                                37-27                                           .578
6. Vanderbilt                            32-32                                           .500
7. Arkansas                              30-34                                           .469
8. Kentucky                             29-35                                           .453
9. South Carolina                      27-37                                           .422
10. Alabama                             26-38                                           .406
11. LSU                                   25-39                                           .391
12. Georgia                              20-44                                           .313

*If the SEC Championship Game were added in Georgia would still be 12th (after facing 8-0 LSU) and LSU would move to 9th (after facing 7-1 UGA).

There’s no doubt MSU went through the gauntlet again this year just as it was in 2009 and 2010. It would be a welcomed break if the SEC West took a couple years off from being the toughest division in college football.

Dirty Panda during bowl season
Dirty Panda during bowl season /

All in all, MSU won the Egg Bowl for the 3rd year in a row and will go to a bowl game. Likely destination: Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN. Likely opponent: Virginia (8-4). The program took a step back, but not so far back that the 9-4 season of 2010 could be considered a fluke. Back-to-back bowl games is a huge accomplishment considering where this program has been the past 10 years. It was a good season.

Here’s how State finished the regular season statistically:

Scoring offense: 25.5 PPG; 8th in SEC, 72nd in nation
Total offense: 355.1 YPG; 6th in SEC, 87th in nation
Rushing offense: 168.8 YPG; 6th in SEC, 45th in nation
Passing offense: 186.2 YPG, 6th in SEC, 94th in nation

Scoring defense: 19.9 PPG; 5th in SEC, 20th in nation
Total defense: 355.9 YPG; 8th in SEC, 42nd in nation
Rushing defense: 161 YPG; 7th in SEC, 65th in nation
Passing defense: 194.9 YPG, 9th in SEC, 25th in nation