Last night was the type of game where the final outcome wasn't really in doubt, but was a tougher game than most fans, including myself, expected to see. Some fans appeared to panic. A few of our writers have already recapped some of what went wrong against USM, and the fact that Leonard Fournette is coming to Starkvegas next week and likes to hurt people means that MSU has to play better next week. However, Mullen has struggled against one out of conference opponent every year he has been in Starkville. I'll go year by year.
2009 Jackson State- This is the only FCS game I'll mention. The final score was 45-7, but MSU looked extremely bad against Jackson State in Mullen's first game ever. MSU only led 14-0 at the end of the first half, and JSU fumbled three times. Two of those fumbles gave MSU the ball inside the JSU 25 yard line. Normally 14-0 at the half isn't much of a concern, but JSU is in the SWAC, which doesn't even bother playing in the FCS playoffs anymore because whichever SWAC team made it would always get destroyed.
2010 UAB- Their football team is basically on a self imposed death penalty this year, but their 2010 team only lost to one of Mullen's best MSU teams 29-24. MSU only outgained UAB in total yardage 378 to 354. With under four minutes left in the game, UAB was going to get the ball back down by five points. Michael Carr forced a fumble on the kickoff return, and MSU ran out the clock.
2011 Louisiana Tech- LA Tech actually outgained MSU by 19 yards, but MSU did average more yards per play. With the game tied 20-20 late in the fourth quarter, LA Tech threw an interception from MSU's 20 yard line, and MSU won in overtime. I'm also going to give an honorable mention to the 2011 UAB game here, when UAB lead MSU 3-0 at the half.
2012 Troy- Troy's QB threw for 345 yards, and their starting runningback ran for 137, getting 6.8 yards per carry. A 23-7 lead turned into a 30-24 win. Troy had a chance to stop MSU on 3rd and 1 and get the ball back with around a minute left, but a Tyler Russell QB sneak got the last first down MSU needed to run out the clock.
2013 Bowling Green- MSU outgained Bowling Green 422 to 383, and ran about the same amount of plays as Bowling Green. Both teams had one turnover. With a 21-20 lead, Mullen ran the ball with Dak Prescott on fourth and one, and Bowling Green stopped him. With a little over a minute left in the game, MSU stopped Bowling Green at their own 45, and ran out the clock.
2014 UAB- In what was almost their last season of football, UAB lost to MSU 47-34. UAB threw for 435 yards, averaging 12.8 yards per pass attempt (this doesn't account for sacks, which for some reason count as rushing instead of passing yards, but that is a rant for another day). Like against USM last night, the game wasn't really in doubt, but it was a competitive one.
We can't be sure how good Southern Miss is yet. They might be a team that goes 4-8, or they might win 7 games and go to a bowl. It is possible that some of the teams I mentioned are better than the Southern Miss team MSU played last night, but most of those games I mentioned were more competitive.
If you read the entire article, you might be depressed after reading a recap of Mullen's worst games, but that wasn't the point. The point is that Mullen has had a game like last night every year, if not worse, and in spite of that, is still on his way to being the most successful coach in school history. There are some fair criticisms to be made of last night's game, but history shows that MSU shouldn't hit the panic button after one game.