Bulldog fans, fasten that seatbelt and hang on tight…the next two weeks are most likely going to make or break the entire football season.
Of course as fans we all hope that somehow Dan Mullen and the rest of the coaching staff can find a way to pull out victories against both Auburn and LSU, but should we realistically expect that? Personally, if we come out of the LSU game with a 2-1 record I’ll be happy, and more importantly, I think we’ll be in great shape to pull off at least a 9-3 record on the season. More after the jump...
The Auburn Tigers looked inexperienced and particularly sloppy on defense in their 42-38 victory against Utah State. I think it’s safe to say that even Auburn fans must be a little worried that a perfectly executed onside kick is all that saved them from the first opening day loss by a defending national champ since the early nineties. Coach Gene Chizik was expectedly less than pleased and summed up the day’s effort in the following way:
"Offensively and defensively we're a long way off of being able to win very many games right now."
I hope you’re right Coach Chizik…
Although the Auburn Tigers played far short of almost everyone’s opening day expectations, Coach Dan Mullen refuses to take them lightly and rightfully so. MSU has only managed to beat the Tigers once in their last ten meetings. The good news? That lone victory occurred back in 2007 at Jordan-Hare Stadium which is where this year’s contest will be played.
Chizik and his staff will most certainly clean up some of that sloppiness I earlier referred to on defense, but expect Mullen to make improvements on the Bulldog’s shortcomings as well. Utah State put up 221 yards rushing on the Tigers so expect the Bulldogs to give the ball to Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins a whole lot. Auburn running back Michael Dyer managed to get two TD’s, but only 57 yards rushing. I think as long as the Bulldog secondary does their job and controls the pass, MSU should come out on top in this game.
The other Tigers (LSU) pretty much pummelled the Oregon Ducks with a 40-27 victory in Dallas. With all their distractions and suspended players, LSU still played like a championship caliber team that is focused on the job at hand. Les Miles, should be commended for the monumental task of getting the Tigers ready for the number three team in the country under very difficult circumstances.
The Ducks managed to put up significantly more yards (335) than LSU (273) but ultimately turnovers is what did them in. Its hard for any team to overcome four turnovers. The Bulldogs know a thing or two about giving up costly turnovers to LSU; they did it five times in last season’s 29-7 loss. Make no mistake about it, the turnover battle will be THE key component in putting together a victory this year.
The LSU Tigers will probably be the most challenging game during these next two critical weeks. Fortunately, MSU will have them at home. The game will be on a Thursday night and unfortunately things didn’t go so well for the Bulldogs the last time they played LSU on a Thursday night. The Tigers dominated that 2007 game, easily cruising to a 45-0 victory. Mississippi State’s losing streak against LSU goes back to 1999…hopefully this is the year to end that horrible streak.
Bulldog fans, keep your fingers crossed over these next two weeks. If the Bulldogs manage to beat both Tigers, that trip to Atlanta begins to seem a lot more realistic. On the other hand, if they lose both games, the season will probably spiral out of control.