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Welcome to the New Mississippi State

The last month has completely altered the perception of MSU football and what it can be on a national level. This is no longer the program we've always known and it can't be treated as such.

Kevin C. Cox

Mississippi State is the number one team in college football and that's a fact.

In a mere seven weeks, MSU has gone from an expected middle of the pack contender in the high powered SEC West to the consensus number one team in America. When players talk about how they want to shock the world, they're talking about exactly what the Bulldogs have accomplished. The entire college football world is literally shocked. And not only are they shocked but they are rooting for MSU.

This is a feel good story. Dan Mullen took a ragged Mississippi State program from rags to riches without all-star players by building up lesser known recruits and believing in their potential to be great. Chief among those players is a hardworking, likable Heisman candidate under center in Dak Prescott, who has a story that would make anyone want to root for him. To boot, the team has handled their huge wins with a level of humility and grace that is extremely rare in college football today. Frankly, you couldn't write anything this good.

But from this point going forward everything that happens will be completely new to every person involved with MSU and its football program. Players, coaches, and fans from 1 to 100 years of age are now floating in completely uncharted waters.

This is a new Mississippi State.

Every remaining team on State's schedule will be gunning to upset what is clearly one of the best teams in America. Barring an unlikely loss beforehand, MSU could very well be favored over Alabama in Tuscaloosa and could realistically be favored in every game for the remainder of the season.

The Bulldogs will be a primary topic in discussions about the inaugural college football playoff and eventual national championship game. MSU now controls its own fate in the SEC West title race and the Egg Bowl could potentially decide not only the SEC West but a spot in the playoff as well.

The danger this team and it's fan base now faces is the fact that the top is a lonely place to be. No matter the situation, at a certain point the feel good story loses its sheen and MSU will simply become the team everyone wants to beat.

This is a problem that, unfortunate as it may be, Mississippi State has never had. Dan Mullen's staff brought this fan base out of an attitude of complete apathy that developed during the dark days of Sylvester Croom's tenure but an underdog mentality has remained. That attitude is now totally irrelevant. This team is number one and when you're number one you have to expect the treatment that comes along with that designation.

Every game will now have huge implications. The whole nation will be intently watching, many of whom will be hoping for a fall. Your stress level as a State fan has never been higher than it will be in the next few weeks. Being number one is not for the faint of heart.

But sitting on top of the college football world has its advantages as well. Every show on ESPN will be discussing MSU and the days of the talking heads simply dismissing State are over. You can brag to anyone about being an MSU fan, when your team is number one you get to do that sort of stuff. The amount of pride you have in this program and your enthusiasm for the future of the Bulldogs will be at a peak. You probably already feel it but as Bulldog fans we're now breathing truly rarefied air. This is the good life.

So, get ready. You've been warned. Everything you've ever known about cheering for the Bulldogs has gone out the window and you should let all your expectations go too. The sky is now the limit. Forget about bowl games, an SEC Championship and a national championship are now the goals. This could end in disappointment or it could be the greatest single season in the history of Mississippi State football. Buckle up tight because we all know this is not going to be easy but it's definitely going to be a ton of fun.

Welcome to the new Mississippi State.