The Bulldog faithful are on cloud nine right now, and rightfully so. The big win against Florida down in the swamp was huge for Coach Dan Mullen and the entire team. I think the best thing the victory gave the Bulldogs was a boost of confidence. Coach Mullen has been working to build up that confidence ever since he took the job and its definitely starting to pay off. He's preached to them over and over that if they give relentless effort and play all four quarters of the game, great things will happen. There's no question that everyone on that team believes that they are winners now.
Going into the season, I think the main realistic goal was getting six wins and making it to a bowl game. Now the Bulldogs are sitting at 5-2 overall (2-2 SEC) and on the cusp of achieving that original goal. There are still five games left and fans are already daring themselves to wonder if it is possible we could wind up with seven or eight wins. This team is certainly capable of getting eight wins but first things first...we have to beat UAB.
I know there are plenty of fans out there already counting UAB as a win, but make no mistake about it, UAB can be a real headache if we don't take them seriously. Just ask the Tennessee Volunteers what happens when you look past them. UAB took the Vols into two overtimes before Tennessee finally put them away for good.
Now, I know what many of you are thinking: Tennessee is a really bad team right now! That may be true, but the players Tennessee has are clearly more talented than UAB's. It shouldn't have taken two overtimes to beat them. If Tennessee is not a good enough example, then don't forget about what happened when South Carolina rolled into Commonwealth Stadium after sticking it to the then #1 Alabama Crimson Tide. Kentucky brought them back down to earth very quickly.
Having said all that, as long as the Bulldogs take them seriously, UAB should be the sixth win to make Mississippi State bowl eligible for the first time since 2007.
So what should they expect from UAB? The Blazers love to throw the ball. They put up 429 yards through the air in that game against Tennessee. This should not present too much of a problem for the Bulldogs since they are sixth in the nation on pass defense right now. You can compare that to Central Florida, they are currently seventh in the nation on pass defense and a couple of weeks ago they destroyed the Blazers 42-7.
I don't think the Blazer defense will present very much of a problem either. The main trouble spot will come from UAB's senior DE Bryant Turner, he has racked up 5 sacks so far this season. UAB hasn't had a ton of success defending the run which undoubtedly will be where most of our offensive production will come from.
Hopefully the Bulldogs can jump ahead early and work on their passing game some more. I would like to see Tyler Russell get some more playing time as well. Whatever happens, they must continue to do what Coach Mullen has been preaching: Play with relentless effort for all four quarters!