Sat, Aug 31 Oklahoma State Houston, TX (Reliant Stadium)
Sat, Sep 07 Alcorn State Starkville
Sat, Sep 14 Auburn * Auburn, AL
Sat, Sep 21 Troy Starkville
Sat, Oct 05 LSU * Starkville
Sat, Oct 12 Bowling Green (HC) Starkville
Thu, Oct 24 Kentucky * Starkville
Sat, Nov 02 South Carolina * Columbia, SC
Sat, Nov 09 Texas A&M * College Station, TX
Sat, Nov 16 Alabama * Starkville
Sat, Nov 23 Arkansas * Little Rock, AR
Sat, Nov 30 Ole Miss * Starkville
Entering the 5th year of the Mullen regime there has been a ton of discussion among MSU fans as to where we should be as a program. Everyone aspires to be competing for the SEC West crown but is that reasonable? Expectations are such a tricky thing for a team’s fan base to approach rationally. What would define a successful season for the Bulldogs next year?
Since I’m going to tell you what I call successful or not, I need to tell you what I’m basing it on. When I set my expectations for MSU I first look at our own team and what we have coming back. That’s the most important aspect. Part 2 is looking at the conference schedule. MSU can return a pretty dang good football team and have a brutal conference slate which will be greatly weighted. Another thing I like to look at is history. By that I mean recent history. For an SEC reference, I like to think of 1992 (the division split) until now as recent history and that may be stretching it to be honest. If you’ve never been to the SEC Championship Game, I don’t think forming your expectations on making that game as very rational from a fan standpoint.
Let’s examine some records and what I think.
5-7 and below- I do not care if we beat Ole Miss or not. Any scenario that has us with a losing record is unacceptable at this point. I wouldn’t care if we upset #1 Alabama. A losing season would be a colossal disappointment.
6-6- This one is where it could get interesting. There are a few scenarios that make this record feel a lot different. If MSU finishes 6-6 and doesn’t beat Ole Miss, I consider the season a failure. If MSU finishes with 6 wins and an Ole Miss victory but then loses the bowl (ultimately finishing 6-7), I would consider the year a failure. The only way I would be sold on a 6-6 regular season is if it includes an Egg Bowl win and a bowl game win getting us to 7-6. Many may disagree but with the current climate of the SEC West and our OOC schedule, I think that is a fair assessment.
7-5- This record seems better on the surface but what if we get to 7 wins and lose the Egg Bowl? I say it’s a failure. A 7 win season, including an Egg Bowl win, and I would be good with that. What if we win 7, win the Egg, and lose the bowl to finish 7-6. That’s a tough scenario. It would be a bitter pill but one I think I’d force myself to swallow. All in all, if we win 7 and it includes an Egg Bowl victory, I’ll be ok.
8-5- In my mind, 8 wins in the regular season and it’s a success. Many will refer to last year when 8 wins didn’t have that great feel after the Ole Miss game and the Gator Bowl. The finish last year was tough on everyone but considering the strength of the SEC and our history, you can’t be mad at 8 win season and I think that rings true here.
9 wins and up- When you look at our schedule, I don’t think there is any way anyone wouldn’t be happy with a 9+ win year. I don’t care how we get there and who we do or don’t beat. 9+ wins would be a great year and another step forward for Mullen and company.
I’ll be the first to admit that everyone is different and has different ideas of what is acceptable for MSU football or not. Some guys expect SEC championships and while I don’t agree with you right now, I’m certainly not mad at you. I challenge everyone to take a good look at our team, the schedule, and factor in our history and set your own personal benchmark for success. Not only that, put your take on record so you have an argument to stand on at years end if it’s not reached.