Admittedly, most everyone expects Mississippi State to run wild on the Golden Eagles in Hattiesburg to kick off the season, but most everyone cannot wait for the season to start when the Bulldogs crank up their season at 9pm in Hattiesburg against Southern Mississippi.
Very rarely has Mississippi State come into a season after a wildly successful campaign the previous year. Never has Mississippi State come into a season having spent time at No. 1 during the previous year. Never in the modern era of college football have the Bulldogs entered the season off of a berth in the Orange Bowl. Rarely have so many Bulldog fans carried such high hopes for an upcoming season. Looking for something that has remained the same? The folks making all the predictions expect the Bulldogs to stumble in 2015. Some even think the Bulldogs will be lucky to win six games, with quite a few saying that luck is not there.
That is what makes the kickoff of the season so exciting. This game will be the first step in the Bulldogs proving the naysayers wrong. This game will be the start of that little voice inside the head of so many fans saying, "Just watch." Barring unfortunate injuries, predicting Mississippi State to miss a bowl game is utter foolishness. The team has the talent and the schedule to be no worse than an eight-win team. Of course it is the SEC, so, there is a chance the Bulldogs might only end up with seven wins. However, that is the floor for the year, not the ceiling.
The Bulldogs boast a Heisman-vote receiving quarterback returning for his senior season, and he will have two proven targets in De'Runnya Wilson and Fred Ross. In addition to those receivers, it will be fun to see who steps up as the third and fourth options on the team. Will it be Gabe Myles, Joe Morrow, Fred Brown, Donald Grey, or will it be someone we are not even talking about much at this point in time? The fact is, that group is way too talented to not have a few more playmakers step up in 2015. In the backfield, there is no doubt Mississippi State will miss Josh Robinson. Bowling Ball did some amazing things in Starkville, but that backfield is loaded like that one guy at your office Christmas party.
But, whatever will the Bulldogs do after losing three of their offensive linemen last year? Yes, Dillon Day, Ben Beckwith, and Blaine Clausell have moved on, but the funny thing is the handwringing of so many writers about this. These are the same writers that "no-starred" (can I coin that?) Beckwith. These are the same writers that predicted doom for Mississippi State when they had to play a game without a suspended Day. Don't get me wrong. Day, Beckwith, and Clausell produced while in Starkville. They made that offensive line tick, and they played a large part in what the Mississippi State offense was in 2015. But, if the recruiting services are to be believed, the players replacing them come in with more talent than the departing players had when they came to Starkville. Yes, the Mississippi State line will be a bit more inexperienced in 2015, and yes, there should be some concern there. But, these guys have seen playing time before, and they have played well before.
Defensively, the Bulldogs lost some playmakers in Preston Smith and Benardrick McKinney. Everyone knows what type of player Chris Jones can be for Mississippi State. The fun will be in watching which player along the Mississippi State defensive line decides to watch his draft stock soar from a superb senior season. At the linebacker position, look for Beniquez Brown and Richie Brown to have explosive years.
Oh but the secondary! It lost so many players! Yes, the secondary will feature many fresh faces, but one face that did not leave was Will Redmond. Having Redmond in coverage automatically limits the options of opposing offenses. In 2014, the secondary got picked on from time to time anyway, and the Bulldogs still limited the offense of most everyone they played.
It's time to get this season going, and that is what make the game so exciting. After about 30 minutes in Hattiesburg, it will be safe to start dreaming of the LSU game.