This is an overview. Predictions come later. Home games in CAPS.
9/1: at Memphis
9/10: at Auburn
9/24: LOUISIANA TECH
The West division Bulldogs start the season like no one else in the conference does: with two road games. In fact, no other SEC teams have even one true road game (i.e. not home and not neutral site) to begin the year. MSU does it by going to blowout Memphis again before traveling to Auburn to give the Cam Newton-less Tigers their first tough test. By playing the Tigers of Tennessee on a Thursday, they even get a couple extra days to prepare. A formidable game follows with LSU, one of just two teams to beat the Bulldogs handily last season. The month closes up with a less scary team from the state of Louisiana.
10/1: at Georgia
10/8: at UAB
10/15: SOUTH CAROLINA
10/29: at Kentucky
Whose idea was it for Mississippi State to play two road games at CUSA opponents in the same season? But, I get ahead of myself. A road trip to a Georgia team looking for revenge kicks off the month, followed by a jaunt over to Birmingham. Seriously, two CUSA road trips in one year? A visit from the other SEC East favorite South Carolina is next, with a week off after that. The month closes with its third road trip, this time to the Bluegrass. That's five road games in the first eight games for all of you counting along at home.
11/19: at Arkansas
11/26: OLE MISS
The last breather of the year comes not a moment too soon for the Bulldogs, as their home stretch is fairly grueling. They play a middling I-AA team before hosting conference and national title favorite Alabama. If that's not enough, they then travel to Arkansas, a tough team they took to two overtimes last autumn. The Egg Bowl is in Starkville at least, but it's a rivalry tilt against what should be an improved Rebels team. Some teams get to ease out of the season (here's looking at you, Tennessee), but Mississippi State is not one of them.
The Bulldogs have a very odd schedule as far as SEC teams go. There's a lot that's unique about it. They're the only conference team to begin with two road games. They're the only team with six true road games. Did I mention they have two road games at CUSA schools? The price of forging their own path is a schedule that is one of the more difficult ones. That they play in the SEC West doesn't help, but they also get both of the SEC East favorites. They will win their two CUSA excursions, but they will add more wear and tear than home games would. Getting both LSU and Alabama at home certainly is better than the opposite, but that doesn't mitigate the challenge of playing them by much. MSU will have a tough road to hoe in 2011.