It has been a tremendous past two seasons for the Mississippi State football program under Coach Dan Mullen as the Bulldogs were 10-3 in 2014 and ranked No. 1 in the nation at one point and then 9-4 last year capped by a Belk Bowl win over NC State. What should Bulldogs fans expect this year? They have a wins total of just 6.5, with the over a -130 favorite in college football lines.
Here’s a Closer Look at the 2016 Mississippi State Bulldogs Betting Predictions
This Will Be Dan Mullen’s Final Year At MSU
Mullen has become one of the better coaches in the country as he is 55-35 at MSU. But it seems there are always richer, bigger programs coming after him. Back in December, Mullen interviewed at Miami (Fla.) and likely would have taken the job but it was offered and accepted by Mark Richt. Each offseason his name is linked with various openings. Rumors also tied Mullen to Maryland, Virginia Tech and Georgia last year. In February 2015, Mullen got a contract extension that will pay him an average of $4.275 million per year. Mullen, the offensive coordinator at Florida under Urban Meyer before taking the Mississippi State job, is working on six straight winning seasons in Starkville. Before he arrived in 2009, the Bulldogs had suffered through seven losing seasons in the previous eight years. Some powerhouse school will hire Mullen next offseason if MSU has a good year.
Dak Prescott Is Irreplaceable
When you lose perhaps the greatest player in school history, it’;s going to sting. And that’s the case with MSU and quarterback Dak Prescott, now a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys. Prescott was one of 10 players in FBS history to pass for 8,500 yards and rush for 2,000 yards. He owns 38 school records (8 single-game, 15 single-season, 15 career) and accounted for 114 career touchdowns, which ranks fourth in SEC history. Prescott tallied 11,897 yards of total offense, which ranks third in SEC history. He rushed for 2,521 yards, the third most by a quarterback in SEC history. Prescott also ranks in the top-20 in SEC history in rushing touchdowns (41, 9th overall, 2nd by a quarterback), passing touchdowns (70, 16th), total touchdowns scored (44, 10th), completion percentage (62.8, 12th), completions (734, 12th), passing yards (9,376, 11th), and passing efficiency (146.1, 12th). Good luck replacing that!
Bulldogs Will Play Multiple QBs This Year
Who replaces Prescott? Good question. And I doubt it’s just one guy. Junior Damian Williams, sophomore Nick Fitzgerald and redshirt freshman Nick Tiano are still battling it out in the Bulldogs’ training camp. The quarterbacks have continued to split reps throughout camp and that will continue as the Bulldogs enter their third week and start preparing for their second scrimmage Friday night. At SEC Media Days in July, Mullen hoped one quarterback would separate himself the individual work put in during the offseason. That didn’t happen. “It’s been up and down. Kind of similar to how it was in the spring,” QBs coach Brian Johnson said. “One guy will play one day and the next guy will play well the next day. We’ll continue to keep going through the evaluation process.” Fitzgerald has to be considered the leading candidate; he served as Prescott’s primary backup last year, and a couple of strong relief appearances breed some confidence.
Defense Will Be Better Under New Coordinator
MSU’s defense was a problem last season at times, allowing 30 points in a loss to Texas A&M, 31 in a loss to Alabama, 50 in a win over Arkansas and 38 in a loss to Ole Miss. Now in charge of that group is former Southern California assistant Peter Sirmon. Sirmon was at USC for two seasons and was the associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach. He replaces Manny Diaz, who left to be defensive coordinator at Miami. Sirmon, a former NFL linebacker, has some nice pieces in place, beginning with middle linebacker Richie Brown. Brown returned for his senior season after leading the Bulldogs in tackles (109) and sacks (6.5). Sirmon is installing a 3-4 defense that Sirmon believes will help the Bulldogs to be one of the better units in the SEC.
MSU Will Win More Than 6.5 Games
I project the Bulldogs to be 6-2 through eight games, losing at LSU and at BYU. So that means just one victory in the final four to reach 7 and top that 6.5 total on college football lines. And MSU will get to at least seven by beating either Texas A&M or Arkansas — maybe both — in Starkville.