1) More than likely, this team is not going to make a bowl game.
While Auburn is turning out to be an above average SEC team, they still don’t appear to be a great team. They’ll likely end the season with 8 wins or so. Remember when we thought Mississippi State would end the season with 8 wins or so? Those were fun times.
As of right now, the only games that Mississippi State will realistically have a chance to win will be against Kentucky and Samford. And it’s very possible, given what we’ve seen so far this season, that State will somehow stumble against Kentucky. The Bulldogs need to win four more games to become bowl eligible. That means they somehow need to take a total of four victories from the remaining opponents: BYU, Kentucky, Samford, Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas, and Ole Miss.
2) The team does not appear to be improving.
With the team being inexperienced and young at many positions, I had held out some hope that as the season wore on, the team would improve as it gained experience. That doesn’t appear to be the case. There’s several examples of this (Nick Fitzgerald at quarterback, the offensive line struggles, inability of the defensive line to get pressure) but the most prominent example would be the secondary.
The secondary let Sean White complete 14 of 18 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. Sure, they got an interception early, but they struggled to cover receivers consistently. And with the front seven not getting pressure on White, the defensive backs looked like sitting ducks all day.
3) Dan Mullen, and this team, have some soul searching to do.
This game was one that Dan Mullen and this team needed to win. Not only for bowl implications, but also to quell the folks that are calling for Mullen’s head. Instead, a 35 point halftime deficit did nothing to calm down the fans wanting Mullen to be run out of town. All of this is coming after a South Carolina game where it felt like Dan Mullen had reinvested himself in the program and was committed to Mississippi State for the long haul. Now many fans can’t wait to see him gone.
And that puts Mississippi State, and Dan Mullen, in a weird position. Mullen is the best coach to ever reside in Starkville, but it’s impossible to say that the Bulldogs are still growing and improving. In order to regain the momentum that the program has lost these past couple of weeks, a lot of immediate changes will need to be made by Mullen to right this season down the stretch. Unfortunately, it feels like it may be too late for that.