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Mississippi State football: 5 best defenses Bulldogs will face in 2022

Mike Leach and his Mississippi State football team are looking to have a solid season in 2022 and they’ve certainly got some potential to make things interesting.

The Bulldogs should have a pretty solid offense rolling this season thanks in large part to what Will Rogers brings to the table at quarterback, but that doesn’t mean that every game will be a cakewalk for Mississippi State. In fact, the Bulldogs will probably find things to be pretty challenging at times.

Given that this is very clearly the SEC, and specifically the SEC West, there are a number of talented and tough opponents that Mississippi State will need to take on this year. And of course, there’s plenty of talent on the defensive side of things.

Here are the five toughest defenses the Mississippi State football team will face this season:

2022 Mississippi State football schedule: 5 best opposing defenses Bulldogs will face

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No. 5: Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kentucky Wildcats – 10/15/22

All things considered, the Kentucky Wildcats did a pretty decent job of slowing Rogers and the Bulldogs down. Sure, Rogers completed over 90 percent of his passes, but he only threw for 344 yards and a touchdown. In terms of what all he was able to accomplish last season, that yardage total isn’t all that impressive (purely relatively speaking, that is). Plus, it took Mississippi State until the second quarter to get on the board in that 2021 contest (that Mississippi State ended up winning 31-17).

In all seriousness, Kentucky could be pretty interesting on the defensive side of things this season. On the defensive side of things, the Wildcats rank in at No. 18 in ESPN’s Bill Connelly’s SP+ math fancy number science rankings. Kentucky doesn’t make a ton of mistakes and Mark Stoops has been steady in building a solid program. They could very well field a solid defense once again this season.

No. 4: Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Arkansas Razorbacks -10/8/22

The Arkansas Razorbacks probably wouldn’t normally be quite this high on this list if you were to simply analyze talent across rosters that Mississippi State will be facing this year. That said, there is one thing that elevates Arkansas up a bit: Barry Odom. For whatever reason, Odom has found a way to give Mississippi State’s offense all sorts of issues over the past two years. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if that happens once again.

In terms of pure numbers, Mississippi State had a very solid 2021 game against Odom’s defense. Rogers threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns while completing 75 percent of his passes. Those are good numbers! But State was held scoreless until late in the second quarter and the Bulldogs missed three field goals. Those aren’t great numbers. If MSU can be more efficient and maybe not miss on scoring opportunities, then maybe this year can turn out a little differently.

No. 3: Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Georgia Bulldogs – 11/12/22

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If you looked solely off how the Georgia Bulldogs performed a season ago, this spot is way too low for the defending national champs. WAY too low. Georgia’s defense was incredible last season and they deserve a ton of respect. What makes this sort of spot not that much of a hot take is the fact that Georgia is having to reload a bit going into the upcoming 2022 season.

The Bulldogs lose much of their talented 2021 squad to the NFL (they had 15 players drafted!) and that’ll certainly impact how the 2022 Georgia team looks. Connelly’s SP+ rankings still have Georgia’s defense sitting at No. 7 in the country heading into the season, and that seems pretty reasonable, all things considered. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how things change with the Bulldogs this year (if they even change at all).

No. 2: Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Texas A&M Aggies – 10/1/22

Jimbo Fisher has a ton of talent stockpiled in College Station, Texas and his Texas A&M Aggies have sporadically shown that they can be truly great, they just have failed to consistently realize their full potential on a regular basis. But, if their defense can hold steady throughout this season, it really wouldn’t take any sort of offensive production for the Aggies to get quite a few wins this year.

According to Connelly and his SP+ rankings, the Aggies are sitting at No. 6 in terms of defense. That’s pretty good and certainly good enough to give opposing offenses issues. Mississippi State will need to account for what Fisher’s team is capable of this season.

No. 1: Mississippi State Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide – 10/22/22

Yeah, this one really shouldn’t shock anyone. Alabama is going to have a really, really good defense. The sky is blue. Grass is green. So on and so forth. As long as Nick Saban is coaching in Tuscaloosa (and likely for long after he ends up leaving that program, whenever that does at some point happen), the Crimson Tide is bound to have one of the best defenses in college football.

Alabama ranks at No. 3 in defense according to Connelly’s magic math SP+ rankings from back in May. Given that not much has changed between then and now, it’s safe to say that his numbers still project Alabama to have a pretty stout defense. And with guys like Will Anderson lining up on that defense, it’s extremely plausible that Alabama’s defense will give just about everyone fits yet again.

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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