SEC Team Preview Series: Mississippi State
Welcome to WNSP’s preview series to get you ready for SEC and Sun Belt Media Days. Each day, we will preview a new team in each conference and get you ready for football season. We’ll take a look at what Vegas has their win total set at, make a prediction, and talk about their season outlook. Today’s team: Mississippi State Bulldogs
Players to watch:
Offense: QB Will Rogers, RB Jo’Quavious Marks, C LaQuinston Sharp
Defense: CB Emmanuel Forbes, EDGE Randy Charlton, CB Marcus Banks
O/U Win Line: 6.5
Dave Schultz’s Pick: Under
Mark Heim’s Pick: Under
Lee Shirvanian’s Pick: Under
Nick Wiggins’ Pick: Under
Michael Brauner’s Pick: Over
Well, well, well. Nobody but me has any faith in Mike Leach and the Bulldogs, eh? Now year three for Coach Leach in Starkville with not a whole lot to show for it thus far, this is a big year for the program.
We know Will Rogers is going to light up the stat sheet in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. In his first full season as the starter, Rogers put up pretty nice numbers in 2021, completing nearly 74% of his passes for 4,739 yards (3rd in the nation), 36 touchdowns (7th in the nation), and just nine interceptions.
In fact, Rogers has even been spending time here locally this offseason working with David Morris of QB Country right here in Mobile to improve footwork and mechanics for an even more successful 2022. The Bulldogs actually did go 7-5 last season but ended their season on a low note, getting smoked by Texas Tech 34-7 in the Liberty Bowl. But they did have big wins against decent teams in NC State, Auburn, Kentucky, and Texas A&M.
One thing that this team does not do a lot of at all is running the football. In fact, they ranked dead last in college football in rushing. While this should come as no surprise with the king of the Air Raid himself in Mike Leach calling the plays, Jo’Quavious Marks did catch 83 passes out of the backfield last season and will be back for more. Even after losing star OT Charles Cross to the NFL, State boasts a solid line, especially on the interior, led by center LaQuinston Sharp who is a legitimate NFL prospect.
On defense, the Bulldogs return much of their unit from last year and even add some new talent from the transfer portal, highlighted by Alabama transfer Marcus Banks. Emmanuel Forbes is back anchoring the secondary and Randy Charlton will need to set the edge for State to make it difficult on opposing quarterbacks.
But overall, on paper, this is not a bad team with a budding star at quarterback. Them reaching seven wins will ultimately come down to non-conference. Bowling Green and East Tennessee State should be easy, but the Bulldogs will open with Memphis and then a road trip to Arizona. They must go 3-1 at worst in non-conference to have a chance considering they take on both Alabama and Georgia, but there are winnable games on the SEC schedule for them. Maybe I’m being a contrarian, but I’ll take the over and pick the Bulldogs to go 7-5 on the dot.