How many more Games can the Bulldogs Win?


Oct 24, 2015; Starkville, MS, USA; A Mississippi State Bulldogs cheerleader runs with a flag after a touchdown during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi State won 42-16. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing loss to Texas A&M on October 3 dropped the Mississippi State’s record to 3-2, many fans no doubt viewed the next four games leading up to the Alabama game as an opportunity to put MSU back into the thick of the SEC race – provided the Bulldogs could win them all.

Now that the Bulldogs have accomplished the feat and their record stands at 7-2, the question now is can they win any or all of their remaining games?  Let’s examine the challenge that they face.

One measure of ranking college football teams that has been discussed a lot this year is the ESPN’s Football Power Index, or FPI.  In its own words, FPI “is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season.  FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is.  Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the upcoming season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule.  Ratings and projections are updated daily.”

As of this writing (Friday November 6), the Bulldogs stand at #15 in the FPI.  Remaining opponents Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss are 6, 27 and 10 respectively.  Also worth mentioning is that the Bulldogs have the most difficult remaining strength of schedule of any FBS team, according to FPI. So how will MSU fare in these final three games?


FPI gives Mississippi State a 42.3% chance of winning this game, which aren’t bad odds against such a difficult opponent.  But history paints a slightly different picture.  With the exception of the 1996-2007 period when the Bulldogs split the 12 games played between the two, Alabama has pretty much owned MSU.

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State has defeated a Nick Saban coached Alabama team only one – his first year in 2007.  Since then, Bama has won rather decisively, although the Bulldogs have narrowed the gap substantially in the past two years.  Playing this game at home is huge for State, but the Bulldogs will have to overcome a lot of history, as well as a powerful Crimson Tide team with few weaknesses to capture this victory.


FPI actually favors MSU in this one, giving the Bulldogs a 52.1% of securing the victory in Fayetteville.  But once again, history indicates this game will be anything but easy.  The Bulldogs have won only one time in the state of Arkansas and never in Fayetteville.  Fortunately for State, that one victory occurred two years ago in Little Rock.  Many players on this year’s roster were a part of that 2013 game, which should go a long way in boosting the Bulldogs’ confidence against the Razorbacks.

But there are other reasons to worry about the Hogs, primarily the bruising running game they are known for.  MSU has had its problems this year defending the run, as was shown most recently during the Missouri game, so this is a challenging matchup to say the least, especially on the road.

Ole Miss

FPI favors Ole Miss in this game, giving the Bulldogs a 46.5% chance of victory in the Egg Bowl.  But here is where the history books would seem to favor MSU.  Since the Egg Bowl returned to campus sites in 1991, the home team has won 19 of the 24 games played.  MSU has won 10 of 12 at home during that same period.  Not since Eli Manning led the 2003 Rebels against a severely outmanned Bulldog team have the Rebels walked away from Davis Wade Stadium with the win.

Getting the win at home against a talented Rebel team won’t be easy.  As is typically the case, emotions will be high and anything can happen, but this one seems the most winnable of the three games to me.

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So how will the Bulldogs finish 2015?  FPI says MSU will win 8.4 games, meaning the Bulldogs likely win one of the next three, with two wins being a decent possibility.  Winning out?  FPI or no FPI, that would seem to be a very tall order.  FPI puts the chance of winning out at 8.9%.  But as is always the case in college football, the games are played on the field and not in a computer simulation. With the two most difficult games remaining at home, the opportunity to make the 2015 season truly special is still within the Bulldogs’ grasp.