14 Burning Questions for 2012: #12 – Mississippi State

14 SEC teams in 2012 and a burning question for each.  Today brings #12 of 14.

Can Mississippi State win a game after October 20th?

Dan Mullen enters his fourth year at State with a 21-17 mark.  Last year’s bunch squeaked out a 7-6 record following a Music City Bowl win over Wake Forest, but, overall, the season was a bit of a disappointment after the ’10 squad notched a 9-4 record.  The Bullies were supposedly supposed to knock the door in in 2011, but wound up taking a step back to being very average.

The truth is that 2010 included some serious aberrations that led to the nine win season.  The Dogs beat an under-performing Georgia team and also kicked Urban Meyer’s can, 10-7, in his train wreck last season at Florida.  Take away those two wins, as normally would be the case versus Georgia and Florida, and State would have been 7-6.

This year’s team has a chance to be very good – if they were playing in Conference USA or the Big East.  But they’re not.  They’re still in the SEC West and beginning on October 27th, they’ll play, in succession Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, Arkansas and then in-state rival Ole Miss.  That’s a heckuva five game stretch for the Dogs, so they better hope they get business done before October 27th if they want to go bowling. And they should be able to.  They should be able to win three non-conference games in September and a fourth in October.  Games against Auburn and Tennessee could go either way and the Dogs should beat Kentucky.  So State could head into the Alabama game with a 6-1 or 5-2 mark.  And since the Dogs play Ole Miss in the last regular season game, they should become bowl eligible.

But winning after October 20th, or should I say how much they can win after October 20th will determine how special this season will be.  With Alabama, A&M, LSU and Arkansas during that final stretch, I don’t think the Dogs should get their hopes up.