This is understandable because it's true that there were big losses on MSU's offensive and defensive lines. It's true that star running back Josh Robinson left early for the NFL. It's true that the Bulldogs have a new defensive coordinator and MSU's schedule is daunting, to say the least. But the outcome of the 2015 football season will likely be decided by the second game on the Bulldogs' schedule.
The LSU Tigers come to Davis Wade Stadium on September 12th and assuming the Bulldogs can vanquish Southern Miss and LSU can beat McNeese State, both teams will enter 1-0.
This game is gargantuan. It is the most important regular season game the Bulldogs will play in 2015.
What makes this game so huge is the momentum it will provide going into the weeks that follow. MSU should easily be able to put away Northwestern State the week following LSU, then a crucial part of the schedule begins the next Saturday with a trip to Auburn. After facing the other Tigers, MSU goes straight to College Station seven days later to play the Texas A&M Aggies.
The confidence and bravado the Bulldogs will be carrying into this two week road trip all hinges on the outcome of the LSU game. State MUST win. It's not a choice.
When the Bulldogs marched into Baton Rouge last year and obliterated LSU, they were slingshotted through the next two weeks by the head of steam created by that win and were able to knock off Texas A&M and Auburn. MSU faces a very similar situation in 2015. Thankfully, this year they will have the clanging din of 61,000 cowbells working in their favor when they face off against Les Miles' squad.
With a decisive win in Starkville, MSU will have a winning attitude and an undefeated record moving into the pivotal subsequent games. Dak Prescott will likely be planted near the front of the Heisman race and the stage will be set for a steamrolling of three powerful SEC West teams two years in a row.
With a loss to LSU, State and its fans will be disappointed and disconcerted moving into two must-win road games. A feeling that Dan Mullen is a one hit wonder will prematurely grip the fanbase and for all intents and purposes, the doubters will be validated. Momentum and a belief that winning is possible was such a huge factor in MSU's unprecedented run last season and the same will be true in 2015.
If State can down LSU and come out of the stretch against Auburn and A&M with at least a 2-1 record, another 10-2 or an 11-1 regular season record is completely possible. If MSU strikes out against LSU and comes up 0-3 in those big games, a 6-6 or 7-5 record is all too likely.
Obviously, the Bulldogs could lose to the Tigers in Starkville and still beat War Eagle and the Aggies, but let's err on the side of caution and get the season started right. 2015 will be all about proving the naysayers wrong and nothing will be more important to reaching that goal than winning game number two.