The SEC released the 2016 schedules on Wednesday. Mississippi State’s schedule looks similar to this year’s, but a few things immediately stand out. Let’s delve into how next year’s schedule sets up for Mississippi State.
Best matchup: Texas A&M (Nov. 5)
Unfortunately, most of Mississippi State’s intriguing games will come on the road. But this matchup against Texas A&M could set up to be one of the top games of the season. If both teams navigate the first half of their schedules, they could meet with a lot left on the line. Replacing quarterback Dak Prescott will be the Bulldogs’ biggest challenge next season, but by this game the new starter should be somewhat comfortable under center. That’s critical, because this game could very likely turn into a shootout.
Toughest matchup: @ Alabama (Nov. 12)
Mississippi State’s game at LSU drew consideration for this spot, but with games against South Alabama and South Carolina preceding that matchup, the edge went to the Bulldogs’ game at Alabama. There are a few reasons why this game will be Mississippi State’s toughest. Obviously, the Crimson Tide have been among the best in college football over the past decade, and that isn’t likely to change next season. Secondly, it is a road matchup which could be a primetime game, making the environment even more daunting. Mississippi State also makes the trip to Tuscaloosa in the midst of a tough second-half stretch.
Toughest stretch: Nov. 5 – Nov. 26
As mentioned above, Mississippi State has a brutal stretch to end the season. The Bulldogs begin that stretch with a home game against Texas A&M, then travel to take on Alabama before returning home for a game against Arkansas, and ending the season in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss. If Mississippi State defeats LSU in Week 3, there is a decent chance it will make it to Nov. 5 without a loss. Should that happen, this stretch will either cement the Bulldogs as a playoff contender or send them to a second-tier bowl.
Biggest trap game: Arkansas (Nov. 19)
Nestled in the middle of the stretch that includes Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss is Arkansas. The Razorbacks should not be overlooked. It helps that the Bulldogs will face them at home, but after playing Alabama, and with the Egg Bowl the following week, this is a game that Mississippi State should be wary of.