Football

Let’s ditch unrealistically lofty expectations for 2020 Mississippi State football season

Photo: Trevor Birchett/Mississippi State Athletics

The Mississippi State Bulldogs have a new head coach, a new defensive coordinator, a radically new offense, a drastically new defense, a new quarterback, and a new, difficult schedule made by the Southeastern Conference as a response to a global pandemic.

Did I miss anything there? (The answer to that is probably yes).

So, what on earth can Mississippi State football fans realistically expect in 2020?

First, let’s start with wins.

What’s a realistic number of wins to predict for Mississippi State this year? According to ESPN’s Bill Connelly’s SP+, there’s basically no way MSU wins more than seven games this season.

According to SP+, State is set to win somewhere between 2 and 5 games this year. Looking at the Bulldogs’ schedule, I tend to agree with those numbers.

Here’s how State’s schedule shakes out:

  • Sept. 26 at LSU Tigers
  • Oct. 3 vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
  • Oct. 10 at Kentucky Wildcats
  • Oct. 17 vs. Texas A&M Aggies
  • Oct. 24 BYE WEEK
  • Oct. 31 at Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Nov. 7 vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
  • Nov. 14 vs. Auburn Tigers
  • Nov. 21 at Georgia Bulldogs
  • Nov. 28 at Ole Miss Rebels
  • Dec. 5 vs. Mizzou Tigers

Never mind the fact that Mike Leach and Mississippi State get things going against LSU in Death Valley (that’s probably not a win, if we’re being honest with ourselves), and then also has to go to Kentucky and play A&M in back-to-back weeks.

After a bye, in a five game stretch, State gets the honor of going to Alabama, hosting Vandy (yay, a win!), hosting Auburn, going to Georgia (WHY IS MSU NOT HOSTING UGA THIS SEASON, HMMMM???!?!?!?), and then going and playing the Egg Bowl in Oxford.

10 very serious questions about Mississippi State’s 2020 football schedule

The 2020 Mississippi State football schedule has been released and I would appreciate it if some things were addressed.

What will MSU fans realistically expect from the Bulldogs with that ridiculously difficult schedule? I’ve seen some Facebook posts hyping MSU up as if State will suddenly compete for the SEC West.

Some seem to think MSU will immediately have success under Mike Leach despite the fact that this team is breaking in a brand new offense and defense and had little time in the off-season to truly get accustomed to these systems.

That just doesn’t seem realistic at all.

Is it even realistic for State fans to expect the Bulldogs to play a full season?

Want to see how easily a year can be derailed by rescheduled games and cancellations? Go check out the University of Houston’s schedule:

I have no clue what to expect this season. I want the Bulldogs to thrive and succeed and exceed even the loftiest projections MSU fans are making.

But I don’t believe that it is reasonable or fair to put unnecessarily high expectations on a team that is breaking in a new head coach (and all the changes that come with that) and then also had to deal with an abbreviated off-season preparation schedule and the uncertainty that comes with anything and everything in 2020.

What does seem realistic to expect is a notable improvement in production from Mississippi State’s offense. The combination of Mike Leach, K.J. Costello, and Kylin Hill should yield plenty of points for the Bulldogs.

It also seems plausible that Mississippi State misfires at times, just as many teams will this season. Can the Bulldogs pull off a season-opening upset of the defending national champs? That seems like a stretch, but maybe LSU will misfire while Leach, Costello, and Hill come together for MSU to score a ton of points.

We can always hope that’s the case, I just wouldn’t bank on it.

For more independent Mississippi State news and commentary, follow The Underdog Tribune on Facebook and Twitter. Follow Ethan Lee on Facebook and Twitter.

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