Mississippi State ran into a motivated and enraged buzz saw last Saturday. Alabama, coming off a shocking loss to Texas A&M, rolled to a 40-point victory in which the Bulldogs did not score a touchdown. Now, the Bulldogs will try to pay it forward when they travel to Nashville to battle arguably the worst Power 5 team in the country.

This Vanderbilt game could not come at a better time for the Bulldogs.

Regardless of bulletin board material and being too confident, the Bulldogs should beat the Commodores by multiple touchdowns if they consider themselves a postseason contender.

Indeed, it’s almost impossible to envision a road to bowl eligibility without beating Vanderbilt, and even with a victory this weekend, the Bulldogs still have to win 1 of these games against No. 15 Kentucky, No. 12 Ole Miss, No. 18 Auburn and a resurgent Arkansas team.

What we learned this weekend

Honestly, the Alabama game didn’t show us much about Mississippi State football in 2021. One would have to squint pretty hard to see many positives coming out of the Alabama loss other than the effort and the crowd hype.

If I were going to point out some positives, I’d draw attention to decisions by Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers II and execution by Martin Emerson Jr, who, by the way, is a remarkably good player.

Despite the lack of positive takeaways, I would also argue that there weren’t many negative takeaways, either. The Bulldogs are simply not as talented and deep as Alabama. The football cliche that comes out of a game like this is “burn the tape,” meaning that the game doesn’t have that many teachable moments, so just burn it and move on. While that’s not exactly true here, the tape certainly doesn’t represent the Bulldogs’ competitiveness moving forward.

Vandy game expectations

Vanderbilt is 2-5 with an 0-3 record in SEC play. However, they are coming off by far their best game of the year wherein they nearly beat South Carolina in Columbia. Vandy fell 21-20, giving up a last-minute TD.

However, before that, Vandy lost to Georgia and Florida by a combined score of 104-0. Their wins are against Colorado State in Fort Collins, and over UConn in Nashville.

The Commodores will look at their games against Mississippi State and Missouri as possible victories as the season rounds the corner to the home stretch.

For the Bulldogs, the game against Vanderbilt couldn’t come at a better time, following two massively emotional games against Texas A&M and Alabama. But it’s also well-timed within the SEC cross-conference rotation.

Vandy hasn’t been the same since James Franklin left for Penn State after the 2013 season. Franklin won 11 SEC games in 3 years. Vandy has won 10 SEC games in the 8 seasons since.

For a sophomore head coach in Mike Leach, every SEC win is welcomed.


I fully expect there to be some bumps in this game and will be looking with more depth coming up later in the week. Vandy will feel as confident as it has all year and Mississippi State may exhibit some signs of an emotional hangover following a rowdy effort at Davis Wade Stadium last week.

Regardless, this should never be close.

Either way, there is more to lose than gain against Vanderbilt for Mississippi State, and they’ll need a focused week of practice to both burn the Alabama tape and ensure that it’s very clear who they are this Saturday.