I have to admit that I started out with a bit of preconceived notion on this one: I think Mississippi State is going to make a bowl game this year. But I'm still not entirely sure how they're going to get there, in part because of the schedule and in part because I expect the Western Division Bulldogs to win at least one game that will surprise most of us.
The schedule doesn't do them any favors. They travel to Gainesville this year, while Georgia rotates onto the slate from the SEC East. Other road games include trips to Baton Rouge, Houston, Tuscaloosa and Oxford. In addition to Georgia, the home slate includes Auburn and Arkansas -- two games that aren't more likely to be wins because they'll be played in Starkville.
So the "could be" category is kind of broad in this case; if everything goes wrong, it's not hard to see one win in the SEC and a loss in Houston or a win in Texas and a winless SEC season. Then again, an upset among Auburn, at LSU and Georgia and a win against Arkansas could get the Western Division Bulldogs to eight wins. Consider: Mississippi State came two plays short of defeating LSU this past year.
Again, this is a team that is talented enough to win six games, which all but guarantees an SEC team a bowl berth now. But it's going to be close. The most likely scenario has the Dogs going to Oxford at the end of the season with a postseason place on the line. Which will make victory more important for Mississippi State -- and would make revenge even better for the Rebels.
Place: 6th in the SEC West
Record: 6-6, 2-6 SEC
Could be: 4-8 to 8-4
Best chance for an upset: Georgia
Bowl: Liberty Bowl
9.4.10 | MEMPHIS | PROBABLE WIN
9.9.10 | AUBURN | POSSIBLE LOSS
9.18.10 | at LSU | PROBABLE LOSS
9.25.10 | GEORGIA | PROBABLE LOSS
10.2.10 | ALCORN STATE | WIN
10.9.10 | at HOUSTON | POSSIBLE WIN
10.16.10 | at FLORIDA | LIKELY LOSS
10.23.10 | UAB | WIN
10.30.10 | KENTUCKY | POSSIBLE WIN
11.13.10 | at ALABAMA | LIKELY LOSS
11.20.10 | ARKANSAS | POSSIBLE LOSS
11.27.10 | at OLE MISS | POSSIBLE WIN