The Bulldogs & Golden Eagles share the same state, but very little else, especially now that Mississippi St. has moved upward in the ranks. How will both squads react under unusual circumstances?
The Mississippi State Bulldogs enjoyed one of the three or four best seasons in their long history last year. That’s not an exaggeration. Mississippi State has won only one SEC championship, in the 1941 season. The Bulldogs put everything together and gained a No. 1 ranking during the season for the first time in school history. They were 10-1 entering their final regular season game against archrival Ole Miss. With a win in that game, they would have had a legitimate chance at making the College Football Playoff. However, MSU could not take that final step. Ole Miss dominated the second half and forced the Bulldogs to settle for a 10-2 season, which was still great, but without an SEC title. What made everything a lot easier for the team to accept was that they were granted an invitation to the prestigious Orange Bowl, giving the school a night in the spotlight and a chance to show what it was made of against another top team outside the SEC. However, the New Year’s Eve game turned into a disaster, as the Bulldogs once again looked spent. They had no answers for Georgia Tech’s offense in the final two and a half quarters, and got run out of Miami. It was fitting in an unpleasant way: Even when Mississippi State had a historically great season, there was still an undercurrent of disappointment at the very end. Nevertheless, with quarterback Dak Prescott returning for another season, the Bulldogs believe they can continue to succeed this year.
For Southern Mississippi, the outlook is better than it was, but it’s still not very good overall. The Golden Eagles improved from 2013, but they were still just 3-9 last season. They were 1-11 two years ago. This program has a lot of work to do just to become close to a .500 team again. It used to be that Southern Miss and Mississippi State were equals. Though MSU was in the SEC and Southern Mississippi was in Conference USA, the Golden Eagles were the more consistent program, and MSU failed to learn how to handle teams such as LSU and Auburn, teams it managed to defeat last season. Now, though, the Bulldogs are the accomplished team and the Golden Eagles are the ones struggling. It’s a case of role reversal.
At -20 points for Mississippi State in some places, the line is at 21 points in several others. The move has generally been from 20 up to 21, not in the opposite direction. The line has moved upward in a number of cases because Dak Prescott, as a veteran quarterback who has immense talents as both a runner and thrower, can make plays on his own. Southern Miss doesn’t have anyone who can match him on offense or contain him on defense. It’s that simple.
Mississippi State has no notable injuries right now. Southern Mississippi has no injuries, either.
Handicapping The Game
This game is being played at a very late hour, 9 p.m. local time, on Saturday. The crowd will be loud, and the odd starting time could give the home team an edge. However, Prescott is easily the best player on the field, and he’s probably going to run wild for Mississippi State. Take the Bulldogs.
College Football Pick: Mississippi State -21 at Bookmaker