Mississippi State's football schedule in 2013 is almost a tale of two halves. In their first seven games, the Bulldogs will play two teams that can reasonably expect to be ranked at the end of the season. They leave Starkville twice, and one of those trips is for the season-opening tilt in a neutral stadium. But all that changes over the last five games, when the Bulldogs will play just two at home and will face three SEC contenders in back-to-back-to-back games. They will also travel to take on an Arkansas team that might be starting to put it together before the rivalry showdown with a resurgent Ole Miss.
8.31.13 | vs. OKLAHOMA STATE (Houston)
9.7.13 | ALCORN STATE
9.14.13 | at AUBURN
9.21.13 | TROY
There's nothing here if not variety. The Bulldogs play a non-conference BCS opponent, an FCS opponent, an SEC rival and a Sun Belt team during the first month of the season -- at which point they apparently expect to be tired enough to need two weeks to recover. Oklahoma State is the first BCS non-conference foe for Mississippi State since Mullen's first year, when the Bulldogs hosted the second game of a home-and-home that started during Sylvester Croom's tenure. The rest is relatively normal stuff for the Bulldogs, including an early game against Auburn that has become something of a staple. Then, they take the bye. Then, things take a turn.
10.5.13 | LSU
10.12.13 | BOWLING GREEN
10.24.13 | KENTUCKY
At least for a week. LSU comes to town as one of the SEC West teams that Dan Mullen still hasn't managed to defeat. In fact, the series has historically been dominated by the Bayou Bengals; Mississippi State has won once since 1991, and that was in 1999. The only thing that might argue for a Mississippi State win is that it's about time for LSU's fortune to run out; the 13-game winning streak by the Tigers is the longest in the history of the rivalry. Then it's back to taking it easy for a while, with Bowling Green and Kentucky visiting Starkville, and both likely leaving with losses. The Bulldogs should enjoy that while they can.
11.2.13 | at SOUTH CAROLINA
11.9.13 | at TEXAS A&M
11.16.13 | ALABAMA
11.23.13 | at ARKANSAS (Little Rock)
11.28.13 | OLE MISS
Because going 1-4 in this stretch is distinctly possible, and 2-3 is about the best they can expect. Not only do the Bulldogs bounce from Columbia one week to College Station the next, but they follow that up with a home game against the Crimson Tide. Here's a trivia tidbit you might not know: The only one of these teams that Mississippi State has not defeated since 1999 is South Carolina. (Then again, the Bulldogs missed two of the three dreadful teams near the end of the Lou Holtz Era in Columbia, so that has something to do with that.) Barring an upset somewhere along the way, Mississippi State might face a situation where it has to split the last two games to go to the postseason.