Five bold predictions for Mississippi State football in 2024

Here are five bold predictions for what's in store for Mississippi State football this fall.
Mississippi State Spring Football Game
Mississippi State Spring Football Game / Justin Ford/GettyImages

We're two months away from the start of the 2024 college football season. Mississippi State football will begin a new era as Jeff Lebby makes his debut as coach of the Bulldogs. Here are five bold predictions for Lebby's first season in Starkville...

Mississippi State sets the single-season school record for yards per game

Let's start off hot. Jeff Lebby's calling card is producing instant offense and putting up huge numbers. So why not come in and break a record owned by the greatest offense in school history? The 2014 Mississippi State offense averaged 513.8 yards per game. Over the last six seasons, Jeff Lebby's offenses have averaged...513.7 yards per game. So if he simply stays with that pace, he'd be right in range to potentially surpass that record-setting output by Dak Prescott and Co. And they might need to if they're going to be competitive in SEC play.

Blake Shapen finishes Top-3 in the SEC in pass yards per game

Blake Shapen isn't getting much love as even a top-half SEC QB. Most projections have him near the bottom of the league. But if he does this, he'd certainly change that perception. While Jeff Lebby doesn't run the Air Raid, his scheme still puts up big passing yardage. And given my concerns with the Bulldog defense, I think he's going to have to call more passes for State to keep pace. The SEC has some great QBs this year, but most aren't going to need to throw quite that much, which could move Shapen ahead of them in the numbers.

Mississippi State finishes last in the SEC in passing defense

The bold predictions can't all be positive. I've made it clear I think State's offense will need to be really good for them to have a successful 2024, and that's because I have little confidence in the defense. The secondary in particular concerns me. There's just not much talent or experience in that room, and with some of the offenses they're going to face, they could find themselves getting burned frequently. There's a chance MSU's run defense is solid, but it could be a rough go defending the pass.

Branden Jennings leads Mississippi State in sacks

Allow me to be the leader of the Branden Jennings hype train. There was no attention on the former Hinds CC linebacker entering the spring, but he shined in the spring game, specifically rushing off the edge. And considering that MSU really doesn't have any proven pass rushers on the roster, the door is open for Jennings to continue to impress and earn a major role on the defense. Am I overreacting to a glorified scrimmage? Yes. But I loved what I saw.

Mississippi State spoils someone's season

National expectations are low for State. Some of that is because of the overturn on the roster, but a lot of it is because of their schedule. State plays six teams - Georgia, Texas, Ole Miss, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas A&M - that are receiving some degree of playoff hype. But I will say confidently that not all of those teams will play to that level. Someone is going to be beatable and vulnerable to getting upset. State's offense will give them a chance against a lot of teams. At some point, they'll pounce on an unsuspecting foe assuming an easy win and end their playoff hopes.