The Opponent: Florida State Seminoles, (6-2), 3-0 in Tallahassee
Mississippi State: (4-4), 0-1 in true road games
Where to Watch: ESPN2 at 8:00 CT
Odds: The Seminoles are favored by 11.5 points
Looking to rebound from an embarrassing loss to UMKC, the Bulldogs travel to Tallahassee Wednesday to take on a talented Seminoles team. A much improved team from last year, Florida State is clearly the most talented team the Bulldogs have faced since Miami. Despite their early season struggles, the Seminoles have the offensive weapons and coaching ability of Leonard Hamilton to compete in the upper half of the ACC this year.
In spite of the recent struggles of the Bulldog program, Mississippi State has had much success against Florida State over the years. Owning a 5-4 record against the Seminoles, including a 62-55 win last season, this will be the Bulldogs first trip to Tallahassee since 1955.
Unlike in years past, Florida State has several offensive weapons that pose a serious threat to the Bulldogs shaky defense. Seminoles Guard Malik Beasley is averaging over 18 points a game and shoots 45% from three. Combine Beasley's scoring prowess with the athletic ability of Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Dwayne Bacon and the Seminoles have a winning combination.
Can Malik Newman continue to step up and grow as a player? Newman scored a career-high 18 points in the loss to UMKC but turnovers continue to plague his minutes on the floor. Gavin Ware has been State's best player this season, scoring in double figures in every game this year. When he struggles on the floor then the Bulldogs struggle as well. In the losses to Southern and UMKC, Ware registered his lowest scoring outputs of the season. Similar to issues that plagued the team last year, Mississippi State often relies too heavily on one player to produce for them on the offensive side of the ball and when one person struggles, the whole team falls apart.
A win against Florida State would do more than give the Bulldogs a winning record, it would give them momentum as they head into the closing stretch of the non-conference schedule. Winning on the road has been a weak spot for Mississippi State in recent years and to win a road game against an upper echelon ACC team would set a good tone heading into SEC play.
Florida State should win this game. The Noles are more talented but do rely heavily on Freshmen and Sophomores for their offensive production, so the Bulldogs definitely have a chance. Unfortunately, I think a road game against a power team like Florida State is too tall a task for the Bulldogs this early in the season.
Montana's Prediction: Florida State 82-71