Will Auburn repeat as SEC champions? What team will emerge as a division darkhorse no one’s talking about? It’s time for Year 2 of our two-week, daily ‘Crystal Ball’ series on how each of the SEC’s 14 teams will finish this fall.

We hit a couple big-time upsets last fall including Tennessee’s win over South Carolina, but didn’t expect 12 wins out of Mizzou, a BCS title-game run from Auburn or Florida’s faceplant in Will Muschamp’s third season.


2013 Crystal Ball Projection: 5-7, 2-6
2013 Actual: 7-6, 3-5


Aug. 30 vs. Southern Miss (W): Preseason expectations can finally be carried out on the field for the Bulldogs. Cowbells are way too loud for the Golden Eagles to soar.

Sept. 6 vs. UAB (W): The best storyline for this game? Mississippi St. doesn’t have to travel to Birmingham for a 28-point victory.

Sept. 13 at South Alabama (W): Dak Prescott’s numbers are approaching national hype levels after the Bulldogs’ third consecutive convincing win.

Sept. 20 at LSU (L): The first ‘show me’ game of the 2014 slate, Dan Mullen’s faulty 2-21 mark against ranked teams during his stint at MSU comes into play against the second-most talented defense the Bulldogs will face all season. Road games are difficult and this is the first of two where the chances of winning are slim.

Oct. 4 vs. Texas A&M (W): A major momentum game in the West, the Bulldogs must win to stay alive in the race or risk falling an insurmountable two games back. With two weeks of rest and preparation time post-LSU, it all comes together for Mississippi St. in Starkville and the Bulldogs snap a sizable losing streak to ranked teams.

Oct. 11 vs. Auburn (L): Not quite a season-definer, but pretty close depending on the outcome of the Bulldogs’ two previous games. A 1-2 start would cripple division championship hopes, but there may not be another choice against a Top 5 team.

Oct. 25 at Kentucky (W): It’s a trap! No, it’s just Kentucky. Mississippi St. takes care of business and the offense can relax a bit after three consecutive difficult matchups.

Nov. 1 vs. Arkansas (W): One of the games the Razorbacks would likely have to take to keep pace for the six-win plateau, the Bulldogs are better on both sides of the ball and have an energetic crowd to help rattle quarterback Brandon Allen. This won’t be a cakewalk, but Mississippi St.’s simply the better team.

Nov. 8 vs. UT-Martin (W): The Bulldogs will be focused on the ensuing battle with Alabama, but it won’t matter.

Nov. 15 at Alabama (L): Can Mississippi St.’s defense bend but not break against the Crimson Tide’s three-headed backfield? If so, this could go to the wire because Prescott will make plays against an Alabama defense that tends to struggle — at times — against dual-threat quarterbacks.

Nov. 22 vs. Vanderbilt (W): If this game was in Nashville, the Commodores would be in much better shape in hopes of an upset. Bulldogs by two touchdowns, at least.

Nov. 29 at Ole Miss (L): The Rebels, specifically Bo Wallace, gets revenge in the Egg Bowl. Mississippi St. finishes 1-4 against ranked teams.

2014 PROJECTED FINISH: 8-4, 4-4

THE LOWDOWN: Mississippi St. wins eight during the regular season for the third time in Mullen’s tenure, joining the 2012 group that had a shot at nine but lost at Ole Miss in similar fashion. The potential’s there to hit double-digit victories if the Bulldogs can knock off another ranked team and win their bowl game. If you ask any Mississippi St. fan, right now, if they would take a 10-win season featuring victories over Texas A&M, Ole Miss and a bowl opponent, the answer would be a resounding yes.