The long wait is finally over, and the season opener is upon us. We will all gather in Davis Wade Saturday night to watch what most people predict will be a blowout. Even so, the players better not come out overlooking the Golden Eagles. Let's look at three things the Bulldogs must do to come out victorious on Saturday:
Survive the first punch
It's the season opener, and emotions will be riding high. Until the nerves calm down, there's a chance that Southern will be able to hit the Bulldogs on a couple of big plays. They may even drive down the field and score a touchdown, who knows. If that happens, MSU will be just fine as long as they keep their composure. Once everyone settles in and gets the first snap jitters out of the way, State's physicality should take over. But if Southern strikes first and the State players let it get to them, the Golden Eagles will be able to build off of that momentum. The last thing they need is to let Southern get any amount of confidence at all.
Expect the unexpected
The one thing that is scary for MSU in this game is that Southern has nothing to lose. They're a huge underdog, and they know that. Their offense was a disappointment last year, and even if its improved it will be an uphill climb against the stout MSU defense. They will probably bring out every trick in the bag to give their self a shot at a W. Expect a few trick plays and maybe a fake punt here or there. Everything is on the table. They know they will have to catch Mississippi State off guard more than once to have a fighting chance. Mullen better have the guys mentally prepared.
Don't be over confident
The players know that if they come out and perform like they're capable of playing that this game won't even be close. But they still have to come out and give that effort. The danger of a game like this is guys being complacent and thinking all they have to do is show up. Just thinking back on games like Troy and Bowling Green in the past couple of years proves what can happen if the team is not completely focused. Granted, they still won those games but they were a lot closer than they should have been. I'm sure Mullen will stress this and make sure everyone from the top down does their job to prevent a letdown.
Notice that none of the three keys to victory had anything to do with in game strategy. I don't really think there's any special game planning that State has to do to win this game. With that being said, I think you'll see a lot of running the ball and nothing more than the base offense. There's no need to reveal anything special these first couple of games that LSU will be able to see on film. The main goal for Saturday is to get a big win and try to end the day with as few players hurt as possible.