2023 is the start of a new era for Mississippi State football. Zach Arnett takes over as head coach, having been thrust into the role with the tragic passing of the legendary Mike Leach. Arnett will go from running the Bulldog defense to now running the entire program.
Despite the changes, expectations amongst the fanbase are fairly high. MSU returns a veteran-laden offense, has multiple key players back on defense, and faces a reasonably manageable schedule. But the outlook for the program from national outlets isn’t quite as bullish.
Early over/under win totals for the 2023 college football season went out last week, and the oddsmakers in Vegas don’t seem to be bought in on a big season for the Bulldogs this fall.
According to FanDuel, Mississippi State’s win total is set at 6.5, meaning that they expect the Bulldogs to finish the regular season with a final record somewhere around 6-6 or 7-5. That would still put MSU in a bowl game, but that’s certainly toward the low end of fan expectations.
At least they have the Bulldogs as favorites in the Egg Bowl.
Here’s where Mississippi State stacks up relative to the rest of the SEC:
- Georgia: 11.5
- Alabama: 10.5
- LSU: 9.5
- Tennessee: 9.5
- Ole Miss: 7.5
- Texas A&M: 7.5
- Kentucky: 6.5
- Auburn: 6.5
- Arkansas: 6.5
- Mississippi State: 6.5
- Missouri: 6.5
- South Carolina: 6.5
- Florida: 5.5
- Vanderbilt: 3.5
As you can see, there’s a log jam of teams between 5.5 and 7.5 wins, with six teams at 6.5. Needless to say, Vegas’ prognosticators are expecting a lot of mediocrity in the SEC in 2023. And they see Mississippi State as a program right in the middle of that group.
But is that a fair expectation for the Bulldogs this season? A while back I dove into whether or not it’s justified for national media to have doubts about MSU this year. Though there’s plenty of excitement around the fanbase for the future of the program under Arnett, it’s understandable why the outside perception is low.
Zach Arnett is a young, first-time head coach, the offense is changing systems, and despite some key returning stars, the overall amount of returning production on defense is low. There are lots of question marks surrounding MSU football in 2023, and it’s tough to set a higher bar for a team with so many unknowns.
That said, if I were a betting man, I’d still lean towards taking the over on a win total of 6.5. Despite all the changes, the program is still in solid shape. And there’s enough talent on the roster to think that this team can win at least seven regular season games.
Excluding the 2020 COVID year, Mississippi State has won at least seven regular season games in four of the last five seasons with three different head coaches. And they’ve gone over their preseason win total each of the last two years. Hopefully, they can continue the trend.
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