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Playin' Nice with For Whom the Cowbell Tolls

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Justin R. Sutton fills us in on Mississippi State.

1. Is there anything that you really take from State's semi-lackluster game versus Southern Miss last week?

The most concerning thing to take away were the mistakes that cannot be made such as losing a fumble at the goal line and muffing a punt.  Mississippi State was extremely lucky that those two turnovers did not cause much more damage. Other than that, it feels just like it was a game that just happened.  Mississippi State had many more passes than runs, which is uncharacteristic for them.  It may have to do with Ashton Shumpert struggling in the contest.

As far as things I liked, I thought the defensive line and really the front seven looked solid against the run. Leonard Fournette will bring a much different challenge, but unless Brandon Harris proves to be a playmaker, the Bulldogs can sell out to slow Fournette down.

2. What are the feelings on new (old) defensive coordinator Manny Diaz?

It wasn't the most exciting hire, but it was one that Dan Mullen seemed quite happy about and comfortable with.  Because of that, I think the fans should be satisfied with the hire. As long as the Bulldogs produce on the field, Mississippi State fans would be happy with a kangaroo calling the plays.

3. The Bulldogs have kind of been completely forgotten this summer in all the SEC West picks, despite having the division's best quarterback. What's your read on that, and how has the word been received by the faithful?

Mississippi State fans felt pretty frustrated by the lack of attention.  The most common reason had to do with a lack of experience, which does not really hold up for Mississippi State. However, I think Bulldog fans have almost become accustomed to the idea.  Heck, Dan Mullen even mentioned that it seemed like a tradition.  Many fans, however, rightfully noted, that if you win, you will move up.  While I don't subscribe to the idea that it does not matter where you start, by virtue of being in the SEC West, Mississippi State and the other six teams all control their own destiny.

4. So what's the feel on the LSU series now after last year's big win? What are the expectations for this game?

Well it is nice to have a 1-0 series lead in this new rivalry.  Maybe one day LSU can do something to become more competitive with Mississippi State.  In all seriousness, Bulldog fans still know that it has been a loooooong time since the Bulldogs have posted consecutive wins over LSU.  So long that none of the Mississippi State players on the field this weekend were alive when it happened.

Mississippi State fans want a win in this game for two reasons.  The first is obvious in that this game will go a long way in helping win the SEC West.  The loser of this game is behind the eight ball.  The second reason is that a win legitimizes what Mississippi State did in 2014. Without a win, or wins against other teams such Auburn, it makes 2014 feel a bit like a fluke.

In all, I think most fans expect this to be a close contest that will be decided on a handful of key plays.  No one will run away with this one.  It might feature a late score to push someone ahead 10 or 14, but this should be a close game.

5. Dan Mullen may not be excited about playing so late, but what's the opinion among fans? Will Scott Field be #clangin'?

Hey, at least it is 45 minutes earlier than the season opener.  With this being the home opener, and with this being against LSU, Davis Wade should be rocking. If it is not, something is wrong or everyone drank way too hard before the game.  I'm not convinced that fans really like this game being so late, but in some ways, late beats the afternoon where everyone sweats bad and just becomes uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, this is a spotlight game for ESPN, and it should be a fantastic atmosphere for college football. I'd expect something similar to the Auburn game from 2014.