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2018

Mississippi State

College Football

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Nothing more could’ve been asked from Mississippi State fans last season after finishing with nine wins and a bowl victory against Louisville. Expectations will be greatly tempered this year with Joe Moorhead taking over as head coach. Moorhead most recently spent a couple seasons as Penn State’s offensive coordinator and was head coach at Fordham before that. The good news is that the roster should be plenty loaded with the majority of starters returning on both sides of the field. Of course, playing in the SEC West doesn’t make things easy and that’s why the Aggies are expected to finish fifth and had +11000 spring odds at 5Dimes Sportsbook to be National Champions.

Moorhead led a potent PSU offense last season and now gets to roll with Nick Fitzgerald, who did everything for the Bulldogs last year with 1,782 passing yards, 984 rushing yards and 29 total touchdowns. He dislocated his ankle in the Egg Bowl, but should be good to go for the fall and if he can make some progression as a passer, could be one of the more lethal QBs in the SEC (+4200 spring odds to win Heisman). If he gets hurt again, Keytaon Thompson showed he could lead the offense in the bowl win and then again in the spring game with 316 yards. Running back should also be plenty loaded for MSU with Aeris Williams (1,107 yards) and Kylin Hill (393 yards) a great returning 1-2 punch. Receiver is the biggest unknown for the offense, but they added top JUCO product Stephen Guidry and freshman Austin Williams, which is at least depth in addition to Keith Mixon and a slew of tight ends. The offensive line can be a strength due to experience with only one starter gone.

Equally good news is that the defense returns eight starters from a group that allowed only 20.4 points per game. Bob Shoop, who has been the coordinator at Vanderbilt and Penn State, comes over from two seasons at Tennessee so he’s at least familiar with the conference. Montez Sweat is the name to know along the line after he had 11 sacks last season and Jeffery Simmons joins him on the other side. The back seven is the bigger question for Miss. State, but it’s still not an area they should struggle. Linebacker may be thin all season while a couple guys in the secondary stepped up in the spring with sophomore corner Cam Dantzler and safety Brian Cole. As long as the front continues getting to QBs and stopping the run, the back end will be just fine.

Mississippi State doesn’t have a team that’s going to win the SEC, but it should at least be competitive in most games given the returning talent. An early road trip to Kansas State will tell a lot about the team, as will the opening SEC game at Kentucky. With Fitzgerald leading the way, the Bulldogs could start with four early wins before hosting Florida. While that’s the best-case scenario, it’s at least a possibility. To reach eight wins again, they may have to win the Egg Bowl at Ole Miss, unlike last season when it was upset. This team may not have the talent to beat Auburn or Alabama, but should be good enough to beat the likes of Florida, A&M and Arkansas all at home. With Moorhead leading the way and skill players all around led by Fitzgerald, the offense could be even better than in 2017. That means eight wins are on the table and anything more would be a bonus in Moorhead’s first season.

 

2018 Mississippi State Bulldogs Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Stephen F. Austin 

Sept. 8 at Kansas State

Sept. 15 vs. Louisiana 

Sept. 22 at Kentucky

Sept. 29 vs. Florida

Oct. 6 vs. Auburn

Oct. 20 at LSU

Oct. 27 vs. Texas A&M

Nov. 3 vs. Louisiana Tech

Nov. 10 at Alabama

Nov. 17 vs. Arkansas 

Nov. 22 at Ole Miss


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