The Mississippi State Bulldogs entered the post-Dak Prescott era as four touchdown favorites over Sun Belt foe South Alabama, but at the end of the contest, the Jaguars did just enough to pull off the stunner and leave Starkville with a victory.
Here are five quick thoughts on the game.
1. Two Quarterbacks are not Better than One:
Many long time followers of football have always said that if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have one. Mississippi State has proven this time after time after time in recent years. Go back to the 2013 season when the Bulldogs kept waffling between Dak Prescott and Tyler Russell at the quarterback position. The team did not start playing its best until a decision was made as to whom the quarterback would be, and of course, that year, it kept changing late because of injury.
Jump to this season.
The longer the offseason went without a quarterback asserting himself as the man in Starkville, the more I began to worry. You don't want a quarterback competition to linger into the season. You don't want someone to snag it be default. You want someone to win it. Apparently that is yet to happen in Starkville.
When you play two quarterbacks, the offense never seems to reach its full potential, and there is way too much room for second guessing. Someone needs to win this job and do it quickly.
2. Dan Mullen Finally Lost a Game He Shouldn't Have Lost:
It was a narrative that I hoped would never end, but the Bulldogs finally lost a game where they were the decided favorites in the Dan Mullen Era. To me, that had been one of the most remarkable things about his tenure in Starkville, and it has been one of the things to keep the Bulldogs bowl eligible for so many years. Mullen always found a way to lead his teams to wins in games they should win.
That did not happen against South Alabama. Now it is fair to say the road to bowl eligibility just got tougher for Mississippi State.
3. You Have to Have a Big Play Threat:
The Bulldogs did not look like an explosive offense against South Alabama. Sure, Damian Williams had a lot of completions, but he did not put up much in the way of yardage on those completions. There were not many explosive looking running plays.
When your team does not look like it can put up a play of 30-plus yards in a game, your team is going to struggle on offense. They Bulldogs did not do a good job of downfield plays at all, and they ended up looking pedestrian on offense. If the Bulldogs want to turn things around, it has to change quickly.
4. No, Dan Mullen Doesn't Need to be Fired:
Twitter has blown up about Dan Mullen needing to be fired or wishing he had left. Everyone needs to take the talk down a notch. Mullen has still be the most successful coach in some time in Starkville, and while that doesn't buy you an eternal do-over card, it should give him some slack.
I can agree that the Bulldogs should have done more in recruiting the last year or two, and the Bulldogs should have ahd a quarterback ready to replace Dak, but wanting to send Dan packing right now is absurd. If you really believe this, I want you saying the same thing if the Bulldogs hit 8-11 wins with a victory over Ole Miss or Alabama in there.
Many great coaches have suffered an upset. Calm down.
5. The Bulldogs Have to Find a Killer Instinct:
Mississippi State has seemed to lack a killer instinct the past couple of seasons. Great teams know how to finish off an opponent. The Bulldogs have not shown this.
A perfect example from today was when the Bulldogs should have had made a play in end zone for a safety. Instead, they don't make the tackle, and South Alabama marches the distance for a touchdown. Great teams get those two points and ice the contest. Mississippi State is not great, yet.