Yesterday the 2014 preseason AP Poll was released, and Mississippi State didn't quite find itself listed among the top 25 teams to start off the season. The Bulldogs were close, coming in around the 36th spot, but for the third season in a row, State did not crack the list of those considered to be the best in the country starting off the season. That's not necessarily a bad think for the maroon and white, though.
Since 1980, Mississippi State has been ranked in the AP preseason poll a total of five times, the last being a #20 ranking to start off the 2011 campaign. In those same five seasons, though, MSU has finished the season ranked in the AP Poll just once: The 1992 team started the year at #22 and finished one spot behind at #23 after a 7-5 season and Peach Bowl loss to NC State. In the other four seasons, MSU finished as follows:
-- 1981: started 14th, finished 8-4*
-- 1993: started 24th, finished 3-6-2
-- 2001: started 20th, finished 3-8
-- 2011: started 20th, finished 7-6
In that same span, MSU has finished in the AP Top 25 six times, with only one of those coming in a season where they started the year ranked (1992). Those seasons were as follows:
-- 1980: Finished 9-3 (started NR, ended at #19)
-- 1992: Finished 7-5 (started: #22, ended at #23)
-- 1994: Finished 8-4 (started NR, ended at #24)
-- 1999: Finished 10-2 (started NR, ended at #13)
-- 2000: Finished 8-4 (started NR, ended at #24)
-- 2010: Finished 9-4 (started NR, ended at #15)
So, which would you all rather it be: a ranking preseason or a ranking when things are all said and done at the end of this season? I'll take the latter.
*Note: I'm not exactly sure what happened in 1981. It appears at that time that the polls only went to 20 instead of 25, so there's a chance MSU fell just outside of the poll at season's end with an 8-4 record and bowl victory over Kansas. It also looks as though MSU had stiff competition to be ranked that year as only two teams with four losses made the final top 20 that season.