When the Bulldogs started the 1999 season 8-0, excitement and wild hopes filled the hearts of the Mississippi State faithful. The season ended on a bit of dull note when the Bulldogs dropped back-to-back games to Arkansas and Alabama and were relegated to the Peach Bowl instead of the Outback Bowl that many fans wanted. However, fans in Atlanta enjoyed watching the Bulldogs knock of the Clemson Tigers.
The 2012 season is shaping up to be the type of season that Bulldog fans will get excited, and many hope that Mississippi State starts off at least 7-1, which would be the best start since the 1999 season for Mississippi State.
To get to that mark, most fans see the Bulldogs knocking off their first seven opponents before dropping a contest to Alabama. If the Bulldogs are able to get off to such a start, victories over Texas A&M and Ole Miss would allow Mississippi State to have a chance at a ten win season, and if the Bulldogs spring any upsets along the way, the season could be quite a memorable one.
Is a 7-1 (or better!) start a realistic thing for Mississippi State? A quick look at those first eight games follows the jump.
The Bulldogs should be heavy favorites against Jackson State, Troy, South Alabama and Middle Tennessee State. The Bulldogs should also be favored against Kentucky and Tennessee, and they may be a pick'em or slight underdog against Auburn. Barring something unforeseen, the Bulldogs will be underdogs against Alabama.
There are three games that stand out as potential pitfalls on this run. The road game at Troy could be tricky. It will be the Bulldogs first trip out of their home stadium, and to Troy, it will a very important game. The Bulldogs have always seemed to struggle against Auburn. Until they prove that they can handle the Tigers, Mississippi State fans will worry about this game.
The one that is flying under the radar is Tennessee. Derek Dooley is on the hotseat, and his team could very well be 2-3 going into Starkville with Alabama and South Carolina on deck. Missouri and Vanderbilt will also be waiting in the wings. If Tennessee does in fact enter this game in that position, a loss to Mississippi State will probably assure a losing season, no bowl game, and his departure. The Tennessee squad brings back several starters, and they will be playing hard for their coach. This is the one that might surprise the Bulldogs.
If the Bulldogs get through that stretch 7-0, who knows what happens. Can they beat Alabama? They have hung tough with the Crimson Tide, and with momentum, who knows. Maybe they even get to 8-0 to match 1999.