Playing in the SEC West is tough enough, but when your schedule throws you a road game against the two-time, defending SEC East champion, that schedule just got a little tougher. The Bulldogs face such a match up on a Thursday night when they travel to Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri, to face off against the Missouri Tigers.
By the time the Bulldogs and Tigers meet, Mississippi State fans will know much about the Bulldogs' season. If Mississippi State survives early season battles against the likes of LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn, the Thursday night contest will start the stretch run to see if the Bulldogs can work their way to an SEC West championship. If Mississippi State has struggled through the early part of the season and come to the matchup with the Tigers with a 5-3 record, pressure will be mounting to see the Bulldogs gain bowl eligibility down the stretch and finish with at least seven wins.
No matter the condition of the Mississippi State season when this game rolls around, it will be a big one for the Bulldogs.
Outside of what it means to this season, the fact that this will be the first SEC football contest between the schools makes for an exciting game as well. Assuming the SEC sticks with the eight game in-conference schedule for the foreseeable future, the Bulldogs will not face Missouri again until 2020, and Mississippi State would not travel to Missouri again until 2026 at the absolute earliest.
That should make this a bit of a destination road game for many Mississippi State fans wanting to visit every stadium in the SEC. If a Bulldog fan misses this contest, it will be a long wait to see Mississippi State at Columbia, and with the distance needed to travel to such a game, one would really have to want to get to Faurot Field to see the Tigers face a different foe. For those traveling, the biggest knock will be that the contest is on Thursday, forcing a few days off of work to get to the game.
Having dispensed with all of the off-field items that make this game an exciting contest, a look at the teams playing in the game should excite Mississippi State fans about the game. Missouri has a quality football team that has quickly found success in the SEC. While one may argue that the Tigers have been aided by playing in the East, the fact remains Missouri has taken advantage of their situation and has twice made it to Atlanta. It would not take much more for the Tigers to break through as SEC champions.
When the Bulldogs travel to Missouri, they will be coming off of a weak part of their schedule having played games against Troy, Louisiana Tech and Kentucky. The difficulty of the opponent and the quality of the game should ramp up significantly as the calendar turns to November.