Posted: 8:17 a.m. Monday, Oct. 14, 2013
The Mississippi State Bulldogs held on in what turned out to be a too exciting matchup against Bowling Green Saturday night in Starkville. While the Bulldogs looked fairly sharp early, things did not stay that way for Mississippi State for the entire game.
The Good:Dak Prescott again showed how dominant of a runner he can be. He possesses a crazy combination with his size and speed, and he will probably only improve as a runner. However, in his last two games, he has thrown two ugly interceptions. He still has to improve as a passer. If he accomplishes that, the sky is the limit for Prescott.
The Bad: The Bulldogs turned in another inexplicably bad second half performance. In the second half, Mississippi State accomplished the following offensively:
A few things jump out about the second half. The missed field goal by Devon Bell loomed large the rest of the game. It kept Bowling Green close to the Bulldogs, and it had to play a bit of a role in Dan Mullen's decision to go for it on fourth down inside the Bowling Green 10-yard line.
Mullen's decision did come with merit for two reasons. First of all, your kicker has been shaky the last few weeks. Do you really trust him to step up and hit that field goal? Secondly, if you kick the field goal, Bowling Green only has one option, scoring a touchdown to beat you. No matter the situation with his kicker, Mullen probably would have made the call to go for the win with a touchdown drive. However, the kicker position has to be addressed.
If not for a missed Bowling Green field goal, Mississippi State would have become an important footnote in the Falcon's media guide.
The Ugly: The season is only about to get more difficult for the Bulldogs. After facing Kentucky on a Thursday night, the Bulldogs have matchups with Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas A & M. While the Bulldogs should handle Kentucky and Arkansas, nothing Saturday suggested that Mississippi State will defeat the Crimson Tide, Gamecocks or the Aggies. What this means is the Battle for the Golden Egg is setting up as must win for bowl eligibility.
SEC Power Rankings:
1) Alabama (1): While others fall, the Tide keep rolling.
2) LSU (3): People keep making excuses as to why LSU is not really good. All they do is keep winning. If they had Georgia at home, they would be undefeated.
3) Texas A&M; (4): Something tells me that the Aggies defense will be what keeps Johnny Manziel from ever winning a national title.
4) South Carolina (6): The Gamecocks have Connor Shaw and Jadeveon Clowney back and apparently at full speed. With Georgia and Missouri suffering from injuries, can the Gamecocks capitalize to win the SEC East?
5) Missouri (7): The Tigers proved what I wondered why everyone questioned last year. This is a solid football team that had produced solid results before heading into the SEC. Injuries bit the Tigers to derail their season in 2012, and even with a win over Georgia, it may have happened again. All that said, they control their destiny to reach Atlanta and, yes, potentially the BCS National Championship Game.
6) Georgia (2): If completely healthy, the Bulldogs are one of the top teams in the country. The squad from Athens is not healthy.
7) Florida (5): The absolute lack of offense from Florida is astounding.
8) Auburn (8): Find me the person that had the Tigers at 5-1 and a lock to make a bowl game (still have Florida Atlantic on the schedule), and I will show you a liar.
9) Ole Miss (9): The Rebels looked to be back on track offensively (of course, playing the Aggies will do that for you), but they could not stop the high-powered Aggies offense. The Rebels are a middle-of-the-pack SEC team that can scare top teams or get beat by them.
10) Vanderbilt (10): The Commodores have a big test against Georgia. If they fail it, the Commodores will have to go 3-0 to close the season to go bowling.
11) Mississippi State (11): A one-point win over Bowling Green is not enough to jump the Bulldogs ahead of the Commodores.
12) Tennessee (12): The Volunteers are in the lower-middle tier of the SEC with clear separation from the bottom of the pack.
13) Arkansas (13): Last week, many people had the Hogs ahead of Mississippi State. This week proved that was not well thought out.
14) Kentucky (14): Hey Kentucky, Blue Madness is Friday. There is a scrimmage in 15 days, and only 18 days until the basketball season starts.
Handing out Some Hardware
SEC Offensive Player of the Week: Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina: The Gamecocks' quarterback finished his day 19 of 28 for 219 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 37 yards and a touchdown.
SEC Defensive Player of the Week: Randy Ponder, DB, Missouri:Ponder picked up five tackles and made the game sealing interception in Missouri's win over Georgia.
Five Things I Thought This Weekend:
1) The whole debate about people staying for games, who is the better fan, who has the right to be a fan, etc, is something that I find really stupid in general. How does one really determine fandom? If you were fortunate enough to have the money, means, and academics to attend a school, does that really make you a better fan than the guy who had neither but bleeds a school color? If you can afford season tickets to football, does that make you a better fan than the guy who can not, but always watches every game at home. If you stay for four quarters, but the people next to you do not, does that make you a bigger fan?
In general, I would answer those questions as no, no, and maybe. This is usually just something at which I shake my head, but the last several weeks, around the start of the fourth quarter, twitter and message boards ignite with a fury about the open seats in the stands, especially in the student section.
I have to admit, I could not believe how many people were gone from an eight-point game at the half and a one-point game in the fourth quarter. The student section does need to do a better job of brining it. That said, the finger-pointing alumni need to check themselves as well. They had plenty of empty seats in the stadium as well.
My three-year old never wants to leave early, and why anyone wants to leave, unless they just have to leave, a game that is still up for grabs is beyond me. If you live to be 70 and go to every home game in your lifetime, that is probably 490 games you can attend. That is only a little more than 1.5 years of your life in the game day atmosphere. Why shave those minutes?
2) The fact that the SEC has eight ranked teams in the AP poll ought to help dispel the idea that it is a top-heavy conference. Ole Miss also spent time in the poll, so nine of fourteen SEC teams have been ranked this year.
3) "We talked about finishing the game, and I tell you what, the one thing we did tonight was finish the game." That was a quote from Dan Mullen following the win over Bowling Green. Not sure if that was finishing the game or surviving the game.
4) The situation at the kicker position has to be addressed for Mississippi State. Bell should stay in a kick off specialist for sure, but Evan Sobiesk needs to have the opportunity to win the field goal kicker job.
5) These things always sort themselves out (as Auburn fans shake their head...), but it looks like chaos might reign in the final year of the BCS as there could be five or six undefeated teams at the end of the season.
In the SEC, Alabama and Missouri are still undefeated. Only one can finish that way. The same holds true for the ACC as undefeated Clemson and Florida State square off Saturday. In the Pac-12, UCLA and Oregon could play in a battle of unbeatens in the conference championship game. Ohio State should be a lock to finish undefeated, and Louisville should as well. In the Big 12, Baylor can go undefeated if they get past Oklahoma at home and survive tough back-to-back weekends at Oklahoma State and TCU.
Do not be surprised if every major conference has an undefeated team as champion (Baylor, Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Ohio State) to go with an undefeated Louisville.
6) It was awesome to see my son pop up on the video screen as a "Future Bulldog" on the video board during the game.