Well folks, we’re finally back. After what seemed like a month-long bye week, the Bulldogs are back in action this Saturday in Davis Wade at 11 am (gross) versus the Brigham Young Cougars. This weekend will be a huge opportunity to get the season back on track for MSU, but BYU has just one lone win on the season and they would love to come into Starkville and make it two straight over the Dawgs. Here to preview the matchup is Mary Sanderson from Vanquish the Foe, our SB Nation friends covering the Cougars. I returned the favor over on their site as well, you can check that out here.
1) The 2017 season has been less than an ideal start for the Cougars, currently sitting at 1-5 in which includes two matchups with then-top 15 teams over a three week stretch. What are the feelings around the BYU fanbase coming off of a 2016 campaign that ended in a 9-4 mark?
Mary: Oh, man. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for the fanbase, I think. We definitely have a front-loaded schedule, but even considering that, fans never expected this dismal start. We had a guest on our show Cougars on Cougars this week who summed it up really well: She said she had a moment of crisis early on, where she realized the state of our team, then she accepted it, drastically lowered/eliminated her expectations, and has been okay since then. I think after five straight losses, most of the fanbase is at that point. There are still a select few calling for heads and whining and moaning all day every day, but I’d say the vast majority of us have accepted that it is what it is, and are just hoping for the best while expecting the worst.
2) BYU's 2016 also included a double OT win over MSU in Provo that featured 700 yards of offense, 43 first downs and 96 rushing attempts between the two offenses. Do you think this game has any potential to be as exciting as last year’s matchup?
That game was INSANE in the best way. One of my favorite games I’ve been to at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Rockin’ atmosphere and some really, really fun football. I want to say yes to your question but I cannot. We have yet to really even compete in a matchup. So do I HOPE that it will be that exciting? Absolutely. Is that founded on anything? Absolutely not.
3) Who are some players that Bulldog fans should keep an eye out for on Saturday on both offense and defense?
Two words: Fred Warner. He is pretty much far and away our biggest and most reliable playmaker this season. He’s a linebacker and one of the most fundamentally sound players in the NCAA, I’d venture to say. I think Bulldog fans will agree with me after seeing him play that he is NFL talent. If I HAD to pick someone on offense I’d probably go with tight end Matt Bushman. He’s Tanner Mangum’s (who is starting Saturday, btw) clear favorite target and he can really go vertical. And obviously if the aforementioned Mangum is back at full health after an ankle injury (which he experienced against Utah, Boise State was his first go back at it), he is capable of making plays. We shall see.
4) MSU has not played a home game in three weeks and two of those weeks saw absolute thumpings on the road for the Bulldogs. Are you concerned that BYU may see the same team that hosted LSU and dismissed by 35 points in early September, now that the Bulldogs are back in Starkville?
Of course. As a team that got pounded by LSU, we have already transitively lost to you guys pretty badly. I remember reactions from BYU fans the night y’all took down the Tigers at home (mine included) and we were all shaking in our boots.
simultaneously impressed by and terrified of Mississippi state rn— mary sanderson (@marydblanchard) September 17, 2017
As for me, your losses have not deterred my fear. Starkville looks like a scary place to play and I’m sure your team will be happy to be home, and it will probably be displayed in your play. Should be the most hostile environment we’ve been in all season. Sometimes BYU reacts well to that, but I am not prepared to say that we will do so at this point in the season.
5) Keeping in that same vein, let's talk predictions! Mississippi State currently standing as 23.5 point favorites on Saturday, do the Bulldogs cover or will BYU make Saturday interesting?
My gut reaction is to say MSU will cover, mostly just based on the fact that BYU is 0-6 against the spread this year. But I’m going to say that BYU will make it interesting, first of all, because I don’t want to be *that* fan, and second of all, by this point in the season, Vegas has gotta be a little closer to knowing our identity as a team. We may still lose by double digits, but I don’t think it’ll be 20 or more.
Thanks again to Mary and check out Vanquish the Foe if you want to learn more about Saturday’s opponent!
(am I allowed to say that? possibly problematic? whatever. go dawgs)