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It’s almost as if Dan Mullen isn’t used to having a phenomenal team.
Since arriving at Mississippi State, he has had to try to pull out wins with lesser talent, inexperienced teams, and a loaded SEC West that always has at least two teams good enough to win the national title. This time around, he has the team. He has the quarterback. He has the experience. He has the potential to win the SEC title and more. And right now, he has the No. 1 team in college football.
He has to start treating his team like it.
He doesn’t have to go for fake punts when up 21-3 and a defense that’s dialed in, and he and his Bulldogs have to learn how to close out better. The LSU game was a bit of a cautionary tale, and against Auburn, Miss State did everything humanly possible to keep Auburn in the game – up until the defense was able to come up with four takeaways.
And that’s the scary part for the rest of college football.
Mississippi State played an awful game in several ways. It was sloppy, it made too many big mistakes, and it struggled to put the Tigers away, and yet it still ended up beating a top five team by 15.
With the pressure on to produce now each and every week, the team is going to have to handle the big moment and actually being the best team on the field. The Bulldogs didn’t exactly get away with one here, but they got an ugly win.
An ugly win over the defending SEC champions.
E-mail Rich Cirminiello
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Fitting that Mississippi State beat Auburn today, because the Bulldogs are increasingly looking like the Auburn of 2014.
It’s obviously still early, and there’s a ton of football to be played, including monumental trips to Ole Miss and Alabama, but is there a team in the country who looked better in the first half of the season than the Bulldogs? Say what you will about LSU and Texas A&M possibly being overrated this year, but Auburn is a bona fide powerhouse.
Auburn is the defending SEC champ and the nation’s No. 2 team when the weekend began. And all Mississippi State did was, well, treat the Tigers in the same inhospitable manner that they did LSU and Texas A&M.
Mississippi State is the real deal, a legit contender to win it all. Power running game. Hot quarterback. Physical defense. And confidence. Loads of confidence. Now, the Bulldogs must navigate one of the most underrated hurdles of being a successful team, remaining unbeaten when everyone expects you to do so.
Auburn and Gus Malzahn handled their improbable run to the top in 2013. Now it’s up to Dan Mullen’s kids to show that they have staying power as well.
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