Mississippi State Strength of Schedule: The SEC’s 7th toughest schedule

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SDS takes a trip around the SEC and ranks the schedule strength of all 14 SEC teams. We’ll work our way down to the toughest schedule in the SEC. Next up is Mississippi State.

Previous Schedule Rankings:

Dan Mullen and Mississippi State are coming off three straight winning seasons. But despite a strong start to 2012, MSU finished poorly, winning just one of its last six games.

MSU enters 2013 somewhere in the middle of the SEC West, and as does the Bulldogs strength of schedule. But with a veteran quarterback, running game and overall solid front seven on defense, the Bulldogs have a chance to be better than advertised. In 2013, Mississippi State’s strength of schedule ranks No. 7 overall in the SEC.

2013 Mississippi State Bulldogs Schedule

  • Aug. 31st – Oklahoma State
  • Sept. 7 – Alcorn State
  • Sept. 14 – at Auburn
  • Sept. 21 – Troy
  • Oct. 5 – LSU
  • Oct. 12 – Bowling Green
  • Oct. 24 – Kentucky
  • Nov. 2 – at South Carolina
  • Nov. 9 – at Texas A&M
  • Nov. 16 – Alabama
  • Nov. 23 – at Arkansas
  • Nov. 28 – Ole Miss

By The Numbers

  • 7 Home Games
  • 4 Road Games
  • 1 Neutral Site (Oklahoma State)
  • 2 Cupcakes
  • 5 Preseason top 25 projected opponents (Oklahoma State, LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama)

Strength of Schedule Rank

  • SEC West: 4th
  • SEC: 7th

Notes

  • Cross-divisional opponents: Kentucky and South Carolina
  • Opponents winning percentage in 2012: 86-65 (57%)
  • Bye weeks: Before LSU and Kentucky

Unlike last season’s very back-loaded schedule, which saw MSU win its first seven games, the Bulldogs play tougher games before the halfway point.

Three of four non-conference games fall in the first four weeks, starting from the get-go against Oklahoma State in Houston. The Cowboys will play a significant role in how the Big 12 finishes, and recruiting prestige and branding in Texas is crucial for both MSU and OSU in the Houston area. Alcorn State, Troy and Bowling Green are the other three non-conference matchups, and the Bulldogs should win all three of those.

Mississippi State continues its permanent cross-divisional rivalry with Kentucky, a team that should improve this year, while adding a top-10 caliber South Carolina road game.

MSU takes a road trip to Auburn in week three and hosts LSU following a bye week in early October. The Auburn game could be one of the biggest keys to the season, and it falls on the road this year.

But similar to last year’s schedule, the way the Bulldogs finish out the season in November will be the telltale of a successful year, or it will display another weak finish.

Following a Thursday night game against Kentucky, MSU hits murderer’s row. South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss finish out the last five games, and three – possibly four – will be ranked entering the game.

There’s a very real possibility the way the schedule sets up that the Bulldogs are sitting at five wins going into the Egg Bowl, one of my favorite rivalry games, needing a win just to get to a bowl game.

Can MSU start strong and finish strong, unlike 2012’s disappointing late-season finish that carried over into the bowl game? 2013 will be a telling year for Mullen and his Bulldogs.

Be on the lookout for the rest of this series as we break down every schedule in the SEC for the 2013 season.

Photo Credit: Spruce DerdenÐUSA TODAY Sports

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