As a lifelong Mississippi State fan, it's hard to sit back and see all the disrespect the football team is getting from the national media and the rest of the football "experts" around the country.
I get it. I really do. The SEC West is more loaded from top to bottom than it has ever been. Somebody has to finish last. Granted, last place in the west this year still probably means 6-6 and a bowl game. After all, every team in the division earned a bowl bid last season.
But as Bulldog Sports Radio's Brian Hadad has pointed out on multiple occasions, if the pundits think MSU is a six-win team with Dak Prescott, they think they are about a four-win team or worse without him.
That's just ridiculous. Yes, I know MSU lost a lot of starters, but look at how many players return that played meaningful snaps last year. And yes, I know there are question marks on defense, especially in the secondary.
But isn't that better than having question marks at quarterback? I'm looking at you LSU. Isn't that better than having question marks at quarterback, running back, AND offensive line? I'm looking at you Ole Miss.
Heck, every team in the west other than State and Arkansas are unsettled at QB going into the season. I know there is a lot of hype surrounding the signal callers in College Station and Auburn, but until they prove it, that's all it is at this point, is hype.
MSU isn't banking on the most important position on the field living up to hype. They are relying on a proven winner that led them into uncharted territory with a 10-3 record and an Orange Bowl bid. They are relying on a star who put up 4,435 total yards and 38 touchdowns. The jump Dak Prescott made from sophomore to junior was unbelievable. What evidence leads you to believe he will take a step back after another year of development?
That's essentially what these experts believe will happen by putting State last place in the west. How do I know that? Because anybody with half a brain wouldn't have State winning six games if Dak even matched his production. By the way, out of the last 12 QB's to be named All-SEC, 10 of those won 8 games or more the following season. Once again, shout-out to Bulldog Sports Radio for tweeting that out.
They can ignore the fact that State returns the best QB in the SEC all they want, and they can pretend like it won't make a difference. It's a common practice these days to predict Bama or Auburn first in the division, MSU last, throw the rest anywhere in between, and call it a day.
Could MSU finish at the bottom in a loaded SEC West? Yeah, they could. But you can't tell me with a straight face as we sit here going into July that LSU, Arkansas, or Ole Miss is in a better position to finish ahead of a Prescott-led MSU team.
Unless Leonard Fournette can play running back and quarterback at the same time, LSU isn't winning under the lights in Starkville in week 2. Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris sure isn't going to. And I think Arkansas could be a real threat to every team they play if everything comes together. But as of right now, all they are is a team who plays good but can't find a way to win the big games. The expectations for that team are getting way out of control.
As for our rival Bears, they are loaded with top end talent. There is no doubt about that. But depth issues on the offensive line, lack of a feature back, and a first-time starter at quarterback will prevent them from making the jump from good to elite. The Egg Bowl is almost sure to be the determining factor in which team finishes ahead of the other, and we know how the home team dominates that game now.
Here's a fun fact: Ole Miss has been predicted to finish ahead of MSU the last five seasons, and the school up north ended each of those seasons looking up in the standings at the Maroon and White.
The fact of the matter is that MSU has always been disrespected in the preseason, and it doesn't look like that will change any time soon. But a team returning the best quarterback in the conference and one of the best in college football being written off as the worst team in its own division, just doesn't add up.