Mississippi State Season Win Total Prediction
When a player like Dak Prescott comes along, college football devotees simply have to lap up every breathtaking snap. The Mississippi State faithful certainly did, as No. 15 worked in tandem with head coach Dan Mullen to revitalize the program.
Unfortunately, those days are now past. Starkville must figure out how to soldier on without the quarterback who amassed almost 12,000 total yards and 100-plus touchdowns in four years on campus. Mullen finds himself searching for the next great thing, scrambling to keep the Bulldogs relevant in the uber-competitive SEC West.
Indeed, the web appears quite tangled for Mississippi State entering 2016. Online sports book Bovada.lv recognizes as much, too, putting the school’s projected win total at 6.5. Last year’s Prescott led-crew went 9-4 and blew out North Carolina, 51-28, in the Belk Bowl.
Frankly, a lot of people would be surprised if the Bulldogs were to snag another bowl bid this winter. Mullen still hasn’t settled on a definitive replacement for Prescott, whom the Cowboys took in the fourth round of April’s NFL draft. Sophomore Nick Fitzgerald embodies the clubhouse favorite at present, having already received limited game reps. Don’t let your jaw clatter to the turf, though, in the event that Elijah Staley steals a series or two when the regular season opens on Sept. 3.
Considering the uncertainty at signal-caller, Mullen and his lieutenants must identify guys with the ability to make waves between the tackles. Brandon Holloway, Aeris Williams and Ashton Shumpert all return, but which of the three demands the rock in the fourth quarter? Moreover, will the offensive line create sufficient holes for said individuals? John Hevesy’s group allowed 32 sacks even when the ever-elusive Prescott ran the show in 2015. That cannot happen again.
Meanwhile, changes abound on the other side of the ball. Former USC defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon plans on implementing a 3-4, which should benefit A.J. Jefferson (five sacks as a junior) immensely. Elsewhere, linebacker Richie Brown promises to serve as an instrumental force. He’s a top-five tackler in the SEC, and a model for redshirt freshman Leo Lewis to emulate. In the secondary, sophomore safety Brandon Bryant possesses NFL upside.
Mississippi State enthusiasts won’t hesitate to discuss 2014 at great length. That was the campaign, of course, in which the university spent five weeks at No. 1. May those memories sustain them as the fall approaches, because tough times surely lie ahead. Unless the Bulldogs pull off an improbable road upset against Alabama, LSU or Ole Miss, we just don’t buy them as a plus-.500 team.
TUESDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL FREE PICK: MISSISSIPPI STATE UNDER 6.5 WINS