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2012 Summer Opponent Preview: Mississippi

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Mississippi is down and out as we all know. They are terrible to begin with losing 14 straight SEC games, but adding to it they've had several very talented players leave the program and have had a number of injuries in training camp.

They aren't good. Mississippi State is way better right now. But the game isn't right now. It's in 3 months, and there are three big variables that make this game almost impossible to predict.

1. There are 11 games between now and then - a ton of time to make what we see on September 1st completely different by then.

2. We have no idea what kind of coach Hugh Freeze is.

3. It's a rivalry game.

As for what we know right now, Mississippi has 8 starters back on a defense that gave up 32+ points per game. They have 6 starters back on an offense that averaged under 17 points a game. There are good players littered around the field including WR Donte Moncrief, RB Jeff Scott, DE C.J. Johnson, FS Charles Sawyer (will enter the season injured). The Rebs problem is they don't have any depth. Zero depth.

At quarterback Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace are battling it out for the starting role and they are both likely to get a lot of playing time. And one or both may be injured at some point because their offensive line is going to be horrible. Mississippi is definitely in rebuilding mode, and to add insult to injury they have the toughest schedule in the SEC.

I say all this, and you know all this...but this isn't a gimme game for MSU.

Like I mentioned, there are 11 games between now and then. Will Hugh Freeze be able to improve the team? Will he be able to keep them focused when they will likely be getting blown away multiple times throughout the year? Will this team who has no depth now improve its 2-deep enough over the course of the next three months to compete on a higher level?

In the 2011 Egg Bowl they did not come to play at all, so it was an easy game. But I can't imagine that will happen again this year. For one, the game is in Oxford. And they won't have a lame duck coach this year....instead they'll be looking to this game all year. The Bears are likely to be 3-8 or at best 4-7 heading into the Egg Bowl - this game has the potential to make their year, and get them on the right track in rebuilding their program.

When you think about it, the roles are reversed but this is basically the same scenario as 2009. Obviously Mississippi was a Top 10 preseason team that year and Mississippi State is not this year, but when you consider MSU is expected to be an 8-4 type team, and Mississippi has a first year coach and is likely to have no chance at a bowl game on November 24th....and they'll be hosting the Egg Bowl.

So while it appears lopsided now, you never know where we'll be three months from now. In no way, shape or form do I expect Mississippi to be within two touchdowns of MSU in this game, but this game can't be taken lightly....especially if Freeze turns out to be a good coach.