By PST Contributor: Des Boodram
August 11th 2016,
The SEC West is no joke this season, and for the Mississippi State Bulldogs who have strung together several consecutive successful seasons, all signs point towards a return to the doghouse for the one program in the West that seems to get no respect. Thankfully the last few seasons, have yielded some excellent results for the programs and fans have been treated to winning seasons, blue chip recruits, big time program wins and excellent QB play with Dak Prescott.
It has been a pleasant surprise, especially with traditional powers holding serve, and there’s no arguing that it hasn’t been nice to see the more storied programs sweat it out a little within their own conference. This run by MSU appears to have come to a screeching halt, but there’s reason to be optimistic… after all the Bulldogs haven’t finished last in the west outright since 2009. It’s easy to predict them to be there again this season, and many have, but there’s always a chance in light of the last few seasons that this team will be able to shock a few teams along the way.
With a new quarterback and a new running back the Bulldogs have a lot of new personnel coming in at the skill positions on offense. It looks like Nick Fitzgerald will be the first to get the shot under center and he will still have Fred Ross to throw to.
New Look, New Feel?
The new look backfield consisting of Brandon Holloway and Ashton Shumpert, promises some exciting times at least, as this unit learns to jive with each other. No one expects much from the O-line, which was one of the worst in the SEC last season giving up the third most sacks and gained the third fewest yards. Though improvement would be welcome, this unit is going to be in touch in conference play. There is an additional year of experience and Mississippi State also picked up the No. 10 junior-college tackle, as well.
This offense would understandably make the MSU fan base a little nervous, but again, they’ve got to take the field, and their qwirky schedule could work to their benefit, as they’ll have opportunities to play weaker non-conference teams at different points throughout the season.
Will Defense Hold the Fort
The defense should be able to keep them in most games as six of the top seven tacklers are back and Mississippi will return nine starters in all. This defense is packed with over-achievers and playmakers including Tolando Cleveland, Brandon Bryant, Richie Brown and JT Gray.
If AJ Jefferson even modestly improves from his 8½-sack, seven-hurry season, this defense will be a force all season long, and at the very least entertaining to watch.
Everyone wants predictions, which I’m not a big fan off, since so much can change, but it will be difficult visualizing MSU coming up with more than five wins this season including two wins in conference. Kentucky, USC, Ole Miss are all winnable conference games but they get Arkansas at home, which has serious upset potential.
Mark me down for a 5-6 record and 2-5 in conference, a prediction that can be easily be debunked, but one that’s not uncommon from many media personalities.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are a -32.0 point home favorite in Week 1 vs. South Alabama. Get all of your College Football odds in the PST odds section.