Mississippi State football roundtable preview: How will the Bulldogs do vs. South Carolina?

STARKVILLE, MISSISSIPPI - SEPTEMBER 16: Malik Nabers #8 of the LSU Tigers catches a pass against Decamerion Richardson #3 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second half at Davis Wade Stadium on September 16, 2023 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
STARKVILLE, MISSISSIPPI - SEPTEMBER 16: Malik Nabers #8 of the LSU Tigers catches a pass against Decamerion Richardson #3 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second half at Davis Wade Stadium on September 16, 2023 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

To get a really good Mississippi State football preview of the Bulldogs’ game against the South Carolina Gamecocks, we got some brilliant college football minds around together.

Let’s talk some more Mississippi State football. Because football is almost upon us once again. Whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen.

Speaking of bad…

Mississippi State’s offense is horrendous.

But thankfully the Bulldogs are getting a South Carolina team that has a defense that has appeared to be rather vulnerable at several times. Is this the week that we see the offense get fixed? Will we (kinda) raid the air? Do we see a ton of running?

I don’t know!

I don’t know what to make of this team. What’re y’all thinking with this week? What frightens you the most about South Carolina?

Today, we’ve got the following folks chiming in:

Mississippi State football roundtable: Miss. State Bulldogs vs. South Carolina Gamecocks preview

John King: My sincere hope is that the team can turn things around this week. The offense was inept last week, but it hadn’t looked quite that bad before Saturday. Maybe against a bad South Carolina defense we can get something going.

On defense, I think we have a chance to force some turnovers if we can, uh, rattle Spencer Rattler

Evan Ertel: Personally, I just want more than for Will to complete his first pass of the game and then call it a day.

Ethan Lee: I can get on board with that. Will Rogers being in sync with his receivers would be quite possibly the best thing ever and that’s something that we need to see if we’re going to see this offense improve regardless of scheme.

Andrew Miller: I think this will be a run heavy approach from State. Both UNC and UGA found a ton of success on the ground vs SCAR, and given what I think I know about this staff and what they want to be offensively, I expect they’re going to push the issue with the run game.

From the SCAR side, their passing attack has been very impressive to this point. They’re gonna be without All-SEC WR Juice Wells, but he’s barely played this season. Xavier Legette has become Rattler’s go-to man, and he’s as good as anyone I’ve seen this year at winning on jump balls. Rattler looks much more consistent as a passer, and with how State’s pass D has looked the last two weeks, that’s terrifying.

Ethan Lee: What’s the one thing you’re looking for in this game? Is there anything that stands out as “MSU must do or we’re doomed” sort of territory?

(besides score more points than South Carolina, that is)

Andrew Miller: State absolutely must get pressure on Spencer Rattler. The pass rush has been nonexistent for State to this point. SCAR has struggled along the OL In protection, and they can’t run the ball. Their offensive success is dictated on Rattler finding his WRs down field. Don’t give him time to do that.

If State can’t get pressure in this game, we can probably accept that they’re just not going to get pressure on anyone.

Ryan Strickland: I hope to see some consistency in the offense. I do not care if it is a lot of passing or a lot of running or a straight up 50/50 split. Just show some consistency and competency at this point. Show some sort of identity on offense. I tend to agree with Andrew on the heavy rushing attack. It appears to be what SCAR struggles with. I am not completely sold that SCAR has a bad defense since they’ve played UNC and Georgia already this year. Those are two pretty powerful offenses against anyone so their defense being actually decent when playing a subpar offense would be unfortunate. What scares me most about SCAR is their passing attack. Seeing what Daniels did against State and looking like a NFL All Pro really worries me because Rattler is an extremely effective passer. Just don’t cover their best receiver with a safety. Let’s just not do that please.

State has to keep their defense off the field and not let the crowd get to them. They cannot get false starts or delay of games because of the crowd and they have to play a clean game with some consistency on offense. Multiple 3 & outs to start the game would be a nail in the coffin for them with it being on the road at night in that type of environment. Do not believe they’ll be able to recover based on what we’ve seen so far.

John King: I just want to be competitive honestly. Being blown out by LSU is one thing — it’s happened before and we’ve still made a bowl. But if we come out looking the same way against a team like South Carolina I’ll be worried about how many wins we can reasonably get to.

Ethan Lee: So there’s the big question. If we lose to South Carolina, is the 13-year Bowl Streak over? It’s the 7th longest bowl streak in the country. It survived the Peter Sirmon’s catastrophic defense 2016 season because our football players are smart and went to class. It survived the disastrous 2019 season because of one of the dumbest Egg Bowls to ever Egg Bowl. It survived 2020 which was a bizarre and shortened COVID year and also the year Mike Leach essentially rebooted the program.

Is this the year the bowl streak ends?

Andrew Miller: It’s weird because truthfully, I had State losing this game before the season. In fact, I had State starting 2-3 but still reaching 7 wins. So technically they’d be right on the pace I predicted. But it now feels like they almost have to have this one.

If they lose but look competitive while doing it, there’s probably still hope. ARK hasn’t looked good. UK has been unimpressive and that game’s in Starkville. AU is an unknown. And we’ll soon learn a lot about A&M and OM. So officially, the season doesn’t hinge on this game. But they have to look good to have any hope they reach a bowl.

John King: Losing is one thing. Not even being competitive is a death knell for the bowl streak.Luckily it’s not like everyone can just replicate what LSU did to us. Everyone moved to a rush 3 drop 8 against the air raid and we struggled because of it. Not everyone can have an amazing defensive line and QB/WR combo like Daniels and Nabers

If we get crushed by South Carolina, I’d venture to say most teams can probably replicate it

Ryan Strickland: I do not think the bowl streak is in real danger if we lose to SCAR in a competitive fashion. I’m willing to say it’s not 100% in danger if we come out flat and get beaten pretty badly either because I’m like Andrew I have us 2-3 through the first 5 games. I will say that if we do look bad again like we did Saturday and the coaching staff parrots what they have been saying for the last two weeks then I’d be getting worried and wouldn’t blame fans for starting to fully freak out but there’s still time and teams across the conference are down to be able to salvage 6 wins.

Ethan Lee: If you were to just purely look at the record and say “MSU is 2-1 and beat Arizona and lost to LSU and that’s okay” and you also work under the assumption that Arizona is far better than what most expected (which is where I operate) and LSU will win the West, then things are kinda fine right now. It’s possible to brush aside some of the execution failures when making those assumptions and considerations.

Now, I don’t think things are actually fine. I’m concerned, but I think the sample size is too small to be hitting the big red panic button right now.

I suspect this week will provide a lot of clarity as to what this MSU team actually is.

Andrew Miller: Yeah it’s that you only beat Zona because they kept turning it over, and you lost to LSU in Croom fashion. Definitely a bit early to completely panic, but if you look bad again this week, that spells trouble.

Ryan Strickland: I do not think I can stress enough how huge this game is for both programs though. SCAR loses and they may very well be 1-4 through 5. State comes out and gets beaten down like they don’t belong and the fanbase will probably lose all confidence in the direction of the program under Arnett because that would be three straight weeks of bad football especially if we hear the same things we’ve heard from the coaching staff.

The fanbase will just check out because a lot of them are downright infuriated over last week and a repeat performance like that is just not going to be accepted or go over well at all.

Next. College football schedule week 4: 3 must-watch under-the-radar games. dark