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SEC 2009 // The State Slate

Sorry this is a bit behind schedule. This is simply an overview of each of the season's games; predictions come Thursday.

9.5 :: vs. Jackson State
FCS patsy -- or maybe not. The Tigers won their second Southwestern Athletic Conference Eastern Division title last year. They could be a more challenging team than Bulldogs fans expect, though a loss here would still be an enormous upset and a giant warning sign.

9.12 :: at Auburn
Prepare to hear 3-2 stories more times than you care to leading up to this reprisal. (I would say prepare for an ESPN retrospective on Gameday, but how exactly do you show "highlights" of a 3-2 game?) These two have to score more than five points this year -- right?

9.19 :: at Vanderbilt
The smoke-and-mirrors team of 2007 meet their successors when the Bulldogs and the Commodores clash in Nashville in a rematch of one of State's two conference wins last year. A turnover or bizarre special teams play will win this game. Would you have it any other way?

9.26 :: vs. LSU
If Dan Mullen is looking for an early statement game, this could be one. The Bengals have Georgia and Florida coming up after Mississippi State, which could leave Les Miles and Crew a bit distracted. Last year's 34-24 loss marked the first time the Bulldogs lost to LSU by less than 30 since 2002. State last defeated LSU in 1999.

10.3 :: vs. Georgia Tech
Paul Johnson will have had even more time to get his triple-option offense up and running -- probably the last thing Mississippi State fans want to hear after watching their team get demolished 38-7 in Atlanta last year. This could be a trap game for the Jackets, though, as it's wedged between North Carolina and Florida State.

10.10 :: vs. Houston (Homecoming)
Houston has turned into a decent C-USA program and perennial bowl team and brings exactly the kind of explosive offense that could give State fits. Louisiana Tech flashbacks?

10.17 :: at Middle Tennessee
Lost 31-22 to State last year. The Blue Raiders aren't even a good Sun Belt team, if that tells you anything.

10.24 :: vs. Florida
The Gators return to Starkville for the first time since the 38-31 State win in 2004 that ended the tenure of [NAME REDACTED]. Does having Georgia the following week even count as a distraction for Florida any more?

10.31 :: at Kentucky
Two of the SEC's most enigmatic teams of 2009 meet. State lost this game by a single point last year, 14-13.

11.7 :: BYE

11.14 :: vs. Alabama
The Tide lost its last trip to Starkville in 2007, though that was before Nick Saban launced the "Return to Glory Reunion Tour 2008." This game won't likely be as emotional for Dan Mullen as it was for Sly Croom. But every team in the SEC has to hate Alabama, so Mullen might as well learn this year.

11.21 :: at Arkansas (Little Rock)
The Bulldog's other SEC win in 2008 was a 31-28 win against Arkansas. If Bobby Petrino is still at Arkansas and has the Hogs turned around, it could be revenge time.

11.28 :: vs. Ole Miss
No matter how good your rival is or how bad you are, 45-0 is still embarrassing a year later. (Trust me, State fans; your humble correspondent has endured similar dismantlings of his Gamecocks by Clemson. A win is the only cure.) It could be more painful to lose by a similar margin this year, though, with the Rebels among the preseason favorites in the West.