The Mississippi State Bulldogs expect to improve in 2017, as they are bringing back some key pieces after a rebuilding year in 2016. While this program isn’t near the level of elite SEC powers like Alabama and LSU, the hope is that it can once again make it to a bowl game and win more than its share of contests.
The offense has some promise but the defense is changing styles once again and has to shape up in order for the team to reach its ceiling. Mississippi State doesn’t have the type of elite talent to consistently come up with wins over the best teams in the conference, but if the Bulldogs can claim wins in competitive games it should end up being a successful campaign.
2016 Record: 6-7 SU, 5-8 ATS, 7-6 O/U
2017 Regular Season Win Total: 5.5
National Championship Odds: +50000
Odds To Win SEC: +13000
Even though they only picked up five regular season wins in 2016, the Bulldogs were able to make a bowl game and took advantage. Mississippi State knocked off Miami of Ohio in the St. Petersburg Bowl to finish the year with a two-game winning streak, and it hopes to take that momentum into 2017.
The Bulldogs were dealing with the loss of star quarterback Dak Prescott and took a step back, but it wasn’t a huge surprise as the season looked like a rebuilding one. Mississippi State’s defense was the biggest problem, as the team allowed 31.8 points per game, which was one of the worst marks in the conference.
The SEC schedule is always tough and Mississippi State lost five of seven games in the middle of the year to hurt its chance at an impressive record. The offensive line had trouble keeping new quarterback Nick Fitzgerald away from pressure and thus the scoring was inconsistent.
Fitzgerald is back after finishing last season with 2,423 passing yards, 1,375 rushing yards and 35 total touchdowns. He is one of the better dual threat quarterbacks in the SEC and can be a handful for opposing defenses when things are going well.
The Bulldogs got a strong performance from Aeris Williams near the end of the season, and the running back returns to aid a running game that should be strong. The offensive line loses three starters from a group that wasn’t very good anyway, which is concerning.
Todd Grantham has been instituted as the new defensive coordinator and he will aim to get more out of this group. The plan is to be an aggressive defense, which is good when it works but can lead to big plays for opposing offenses. Defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons and linebacker Leo Lewis are the two best players on the defense and must star in order for the group to improve.
The ceiling is not super high for Mississippi State in 2017 but a bowl game seems likely if Fitzgerald can play well and the defense takes a step forward.
Saturday, September 2: Mississippi State vs. Charleston Southern
Saturday, September 9: Mississippi State at LA Tech
Saturday, September 16: Mississippi State vs. LSU
Saturday, September 23: Mississippi State at Georgia
Saturday, September 30: Mississippi State at Auburn
Saturday, October 14: Mississippi State vs. BYU
Saturday, October 21: Mississippi State vs. Kentucky
Saturday, October 28: Mississippi State at Texas A&M
Saturday, November 4: Mississippi State vs. UMass
Saturday, November 11: Mississippi State vs. Alabama
Saturday, November 18: Mississippi State at Arkansas
Thursday, November 23: Mississippi State vs. Mississippi
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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