Dan Mullen's goal for his Mississippi State program is and has always been to win an SEC championship. I don't know whether he'll accomplish that at any point, but it's probably not going to happen this year. After losing so many players and so much experience from last year, keeping this thing reasonably afloat for a season is the task.
It's a doable task, so to me the most important games are ones that signal that the team can be more than just a marginal bowl team record-wise. It's going to be way better than what you think of when you hear the term "a marginal bowl team", but some team in the West that fits that description is going to end clawing for a postseason spot.
September 12 vs. LSU
The Bulldogs' win over LSU last year was its first since 1999, first in Baton Rouge since 1991, and fourth since 1985. After a tune up game with Southern Miss, this game gets the season going for MSU.
Winning it would be huge for a couple of reasons. The first is simply that wins over LSU are hard to come by for the program. Getting two straight would be great for no other reason than that. However, it would also be a statement early in the season that the program won't be content to fall down into the seventh place spot in the division that so many people are picking them to end up in.
It's a 9:15 Eastern kick on ESPN, so the stadium will be rocking with national eyes watching. State could scarcely ask for a better chance to get noticed in 2015.
October 3 at Texas A&M
All of the preseason predictions tend to have Mississippi State and Texas A&M in roughly the same standing heading into this fall. They're likely to be fighting for position in the division standing for much of the season. Winning this game would not only secure the tiebreaker for the Bulldogs, but it would be another step towards avoiding the Independence Bowl.
Road wins aren't easy to come by in the SEC, of course, so there is the added benefit of simply getting a road W here. This one looks to be the most winnable one for State other than the November game at Missouri, but divisional wins mean more for West teams this year.