Dan Mullen is entering his fifth year at Mississippi State, and the Bulldogs are still trying to have a truly breakthrough season. State opened 2012 7-0, but four losses in the final five regular-season games and a bowl defeat at the hands of Northwestern left the taste of disappointment in fans' mouths. Looking at the 2013 slate, it won't be easy for the Bulldogs to top that 8-5 mark.
2013 Mississippi State schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
While a neutral-site game against Oklahoma State to open the season could provide MSU with a big win and some major momentum, it also could cause the Bulldogs to start in an 0-1 hole. The game at Auburn to open SEC play might not seem like a big deal, since the Tigers are coming off a 3-9 season, but new head coach Gus Malzahn should have his team improved, and winning at Jordan-Hare Stadium may prove to be difficult.
After the first three weeks of the season, the Bulldogs will have a chance to pick up some wins in the middle portion of the schedule. The Oct. 5 game against LSU is a likely loss, but games against Troy, Bowling Green and Kentucky should be chalked up as wins if State takes care of business. However, the final five-game stretch could lead to another late-season swoon.
In the final month, the Bulldogs face South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss, with the games against the Gamecocks, Aggies and Razorbacks on the road. Oh, and there are no open dates in there to provide a break. If Mullen's team isn't careful, it could have another 1-4 finish, or even worse, five consecutive losses to end the year.
Considering the fanbase in Starkville may be getting restless, Mullen needs to find a way for his team to rise up and win some games in November.