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Mississippi State football: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2021

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A recap of Mississippi State’s 2021 regular season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Ole Miss at Mississippi State Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2021 regular season is in the books and Mississippi State has a lot to build on headed into next season. I mean, let’s be real for a second. The Bulldogs should have nine or 10 wins, but we will discuss that ahead.

So, here we are awaiting a must-see matchup against Texas Tech in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 28. Head coach Mike Leach has a lot of fans out in Lubbock, Texas, and that just might change after this meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, so what do we know about this Texas Tech football team?

Well, the Red Raiders finished the season ranked 43rd in passing offense in averaging 257.7 yards passing per game and 75th in rushing while pounding out 150.7 yards on the ground. Both these stats seem to favor the Bulldogs as MSU has defeated several teams this year with better offensive stats.

The two stats that really jump out to Bulldog fans should be that the Red Raiders rank 91st in total defense and 118th in pass defense. In 2021 regular season, the Red Raiders allowed 266.4 yards per passing per game. This will not bode well for a Texas Tech team that will face Mississippi State’s third-best passing offense.

I do declare that if the weather is permitting and the field stays dry, the Bulldogs will win their eighth game of the season and will take home another Liberty Bowl trophy.

So, let’s talk Hail State football with, “The Good, the bad and the Ugly!”

The GOOD!

In 2021. the Bulldogs became one of the nation’s best passing offenses, ranking third in all the FBS. As all Bulldog fans know, this was a great surprise after watching the 2020 campaign that left many Mississippi State fans wondering if Leach was the right man for the job.

Well, this season answered all those questions and then some. If that doesn’t make you feel good about next season, then the fact that the Bulldogs fielded the youngest starting offense in the Southeastern Conference will. Every touchdown this season involved a sophomore or younger by passing the ball, running it or catching it. That is very impressive when you think about just how close the Bulldogs came to winning 10 or more games this year.

Mississippi State’s final record really doesn’t tell the true story of what this season was or could have been if just a few things would have gone in favor of the Bulldogs. First and foremost, if you remove the huge loss to Alabama, MSU had four losses that combined for a total of 18 points. eighteen points were the difference in being 11-1 or 7-5.

Now, I’m not complaining about how State’s season went. The Bulldogs played hard and, as I stated, are a young team with huge potential in 2022, but sometimes there are other factors that take place that really leave a bad taste for the next 10 months.

The BAD!

The SEC’s officiating in 2021 has been the worst I have ever seen in my life by a mile. If anyone out there has watched the movie “The Comebacks” with the referees and their guide dogs, well that was meant for the SEC.

I mean, it is bad when a game is tarnished by several bad calls, but when the game is decided by a bad call, there needs to be something done. Mississippi State’s game against Memphis was the worst. I mean, what the hell happened? The Tigers scored on a play already called dead, but there was no review because who in the hell knows why? Memphis’ punt return cost MSU its first loss of the season.

How about the totally blown call against Arkansas? Time ran out and the officiating crew threw a flag for holding after the ball had already hit the ground toward another receiver. If that wasn’t bad enough, clips show that there was no holding and as usual, another bad call by the SEC’s officiating crew and another loss for the Bulldogs.

In everything in life, there must be checks and balances, and I believe that in the case of flawed and predictable officiating among the SEC crews, the SEC should develop some checks and balances for both teams to deal with these heinous acts.

To help address these to common situations, the SEC should allow both coaches one challenge per half to question any call that could alter the game. If this would have been in place during either the Memphis or Arkansas game, the Bulldogs would likely have finished the season with at least a 9-3 record.

This is a commonsense rule that only gives a coach the ability to verify possible game-changing calls during a game and removes any officiating member ability to change the course of a game merely on their own.

The Ugly

The new Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) policies that allow student-athletes to earn compensation. I am a firm believer that college coaches earn way too much money for what they do when it is their players who are the ones putting everything on the line each week for a win and the chance to play at the next level.

I also understand why players should be able to earn compensation through NIL deals when colleges have been for earning money off of it for years, but what I don’t think is very smart is the ability of any university to use this for possible recruiting measures. I mean, what will it take to get a good player to leave a school because of an NIL deal somewhere else? And It’s already happening, just read what is going on in recruiting in the Big 12, and you better believe it is happening in the SEC as well.

So, guess what? I have an idea for some checks and balances on this issue. First, no athlete can sign an NIL deal in their true freshman year and will not be eligible to sign any such deal until after the completion of their first college season if they remain eligible by the NCAA.

Second, any player wishing to enter the NCAA transfer portal must first understand that all players that transfer will also skip their first year of eligibility without the option of any NIL deal. It is the only way to try and reduce the use of NILs as a recruiting tool.

Liberty Bowl Prediction

Texas Tech is a good team, but I just truly believe that MSU is better in every aspect of the game. The Bulldogs have faced better competition and just have a better and more athletic team on the field.

If the weather does not become a factor, Mississippi State wins big, but if the weather becomes a factor, this game could become a tossup, giving Texas Tech the edge.

Mississippi State: 48

Texas Tech: 24

GOD BLESS, HAIL STATE and GO DAWGS!!!