Bully will be a Bully if: Dan Mullen can keep the program moving in the right direction to compete with the big boys. So far he has, and if he can win a few games they are not supposed to, the newfound respect will translate into a force to be respected, and that is saying a lot in the rugged SEC West. They have the skilled players on offense to do it, and with a rough and tough defensive line returning almost intact, Mississippi State is no longer a marshmallow.
The Dogs will be headed to the Dog Pound if: They cannot fill the holes at linebacker after losing all three. The other item of concern is if the Bulldogs start the season slowly, and lose the momentum they had at the end of last year, how will that play on their confidence? September will be critical to their season.
Schedule: Not too tough, but then again, life in the SEC is never easy. The Bulldogs road games are manageable as the toughest game away from Scott Field is a battle with their namesake, the Georgia Bulldogs. Other than that, visits to Auburn, Kentucky and Arkansas are winnable, and throw in a couple of JV games against UAB and Memphis and life away from the doghouse is not too awful. The home schedule is a little different as LSU, South Carolina and Alabama come to Starkville, as well as the finale with Ole Miss. Sweep the road games, which is possible and win two of three of the SEC home games and the prognosis for the maroon and white look pretty good.
Intangibles: A long time SEC Icon, General Bob Neyland of Tennessee once said, "A significant psychological advantage always lies with the underdog." With these Dogs, they have the advantage of going into all of their big games knowing they are not expected to win. They play both defending SEC division champs, plus powerhouses from Alabama and LSU, so they have nothing to lose if they come up short since nobody expects them to win anyway. After beating Florida in Gainesville last year, maybe now they know how to win? We'll see.
Coach Scooter's Prediction: 4th in the SEC West
I really like the job Dan Mullen has done in Starkville, which as we all know, can be a tough place to establish a program. However, he won nine games last year, destroyed Michigan in the Gator Bowl, and has owned the state in the recruiting wars with Ole Miss and So. Miss so the talent is here. However until they can win consistently, and knock off a team they have to beat (i.e. Alabama, LSU, Arkansas), I am not sold on the team just yet. I think eventually they will get there, but they might be a year or two away. With a schedule that is manageable for a title run, some good bounces, and a program progressing in the right direction, don't be surprised if this is the year the Bulldogs surprise everyone and are in the hunt for the division title late into November.
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