Remember how LSU has another game to play this weekend? Versus Mississippi State?
This State team appears a bit different from the last couple for Dan Mullen. What are the differences?
I think the biggest difference under Dan Mullen is confidence. I think the team believes they have the chance to compete most every time they step out on the field. The team is now playing at a level where most fans thought they would have been around 2001 or so after the strong years in 1998-2000. Outside of that, I think the offense has improved dramatically in the ability to gain yards and put points on the board. While the SEC is still dominated by defense, you have to be able to score, and Mississippi State now has the ability to do just that.
What's been the difference in that 7-0 start, versus the last two weeks?
There were a couple of factors that played into that. Everyone has treated Mississippi State's first seven opponents like they were tomato cans, and in some ways, that is not that far from the truth. When you play Jackson State, South Alabama, Troy (a better team than most give them credit for being), and a bad Auburn team, it is hard to know what you really are.
Alabama happened in the eighth game. They are pretty good. The Bulldogs got in a hole early, and left ten points on the field, which would have given them ten points. They moved the ball pretty well, but did not close anything out. Texas A&M was a bit different. Mississippi State did not execute in that game. They had a silly number of missed tackles in that contest, and had they cleaned that up, they might have kept it closer. Execution has been the biggest difference. You can't fail to execute against a good team, and the Tide and Aggies fit that description as top 15 teams.
Is there any pressure mounting on Dan Mullen to break through versus one of the top-shelf teams in the league?
It is starting to mount, but it is not at a boiling point yet. He got the monkey of not beating someone from the west not named Ole Miss off of his back by knocking off Auburn. Mississippi State wants to see Dan Mullen and his team take down an Alabama or LSU. He has picked up wins against top-25 teams, but the next thing people want to see is a top team fall at the hands of the Bulldogs. It is going to happen, it is just a matter of when.
Where does LSU fit in the MSU rivalry hierarchy? Obviously we're not Ole Miss, but given the way this series has gone the last 20 years, I'm curious for some perspective.
I'm not sure anything will replace the Battle for the Golden Egg, and I think every Mississippi State fans wants to see the Tide fall at the hands of Mississppi State every year. I would say those are the top two for Mississippi State fans, but knocking off LSU would be a win that Mississippi State fans would love. The fact is, Mississippi State has had some competitive games in this 12-game losing streak, but they have not gotten past the Tigers. Mississippi State fans would be extra excited to pick up their first win in Baton Rouge since the Bush 41 administration this week.
Finally, give us your game prediction?
Well, this might get me beat up, but I'll get beat up back home if I don't conjure up a game plan that leads to a Mississippi State win, so here it goes. Give me the Bulldogs in a win 17-14. I think both teams can make life tough on the offense, so just for fun, we'll say a botched fake field goal seals the fate of LSU.