The Importance of The Number-30 and Dan Mullen


In sports there’s numbers and then there are “numbers inside the numbers”.  For most sports fans it’s all about the final score or number on a scoreboard and while that is what defines success – if you look hard enough inside the game, there are another set of numbers that typically tell the entire story.

It doesn’t matter what sport you like, if you take time and dive inside that sport or program, you will find interesting trends, story-lines and more.

For Mississippi State and head football coach Dan Mullen that magical number is the number-30.  A study was released this past year looking at every football coach past or present and how they fared when their club scored thirty points or more in ball games.

Since Dan Mullen has been at Mississippi State, he has an amazing record of 29-5 when his Bulldogs score 30 or more points in ballgames – good enough for an 85% winning percentage.  Just this past year the Bulldogs reeled off 10-wins in the regular season and much of that success can be attributed to the Bulldogs ability to score on the offensive side of the ball as they led the Southeastern Conference in total offense.

But what happens when the Bulldogs score less than thirty in ballgames?  I went back and looked at every game the Bulldogs have played since Mullen became the head coach at Mississippi State and it’s the total opposite of the stated success of scoring 30-or more points per game.

Under Dan Mullen the Bulldogs are only 16-26 when his club scores under 30-points per game; which is good for only a 38%-winning percentage.

After looking at the numbers and breaking down every season, I found fifteen different contests that could have or probably would have ended in a different result for the Bulldogs had they scored 30-points in those ball games.

See the referenced chart below. The score’s highlighted in yellow are games I feel would have had a different outcome with State scoring 30 in those ballgames.

You will remember many of these games like the LSU and Houston games in 2009, or the infamous Cam Newton and Auburn game in 2010 in Starkville.

Obviously it is very difficult to score 30 on Alabama or LSU or the top defenses in the SEC, but what is it that makes that number so special and game defining?

I just think it’s a number that’s hard for your opponent to overcome. If your offense is scoring, typically it helps your defense and let’s them play loose and “more free.”

If you still need more proof of how important this number is, here are some notable coaches and their records when their teams scored 30 or more points in a ball game.

  • Jim Tressel (64-0-0)–1.00000
  • Jeff Bower (31-0-0)–1.00000
  • Mark Helfrich (24-0-0)–1.00000
  • Will Muschamp (17-0-0)–1.00000
  • Nick Saban (99-3-0)–0.9705
  • Joe Paterno (61-2-0)–0.96825
  • Bobby Bowden (59-2-0)–0.96721
  • Charlie Strong (26-1-0)–0.96296
  • Larry Coker (50-2-0)–0.96154

Conversely, it’s also the opposite results when your coach gives up 30-or more points.  Dan Mullen is a staggering 4-20 when Mississippi State has given up 30 or more points.

But, this “inverse 30” affects most coaches as Hugh Freeze is 1-11 when Ole Miss gives up 30 or more points, Les Miles is 8-29 and Steve Spurrier is an abysmal 7-28.  You can also look at the “inverse 30 list” by clicking here.

So as you gear up and get ready for the 2015 college football season it becomes pretty simple for Dan Mullen and Mississippi State.  Score 30 and hold your opponent under 30 – that simple number typically determines the outcome in Starkville and is the benchmark for success.