We reviewed five preseason magazines — Athlon, ESPN, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and The Sporting News — and broke down their team-by-team predictions.
Tuesday, we examine Mississippi State. Here is what’s being said about the Bulldogs:
Phil Steele (5th in SEC West [tie] — Independence Bowl): “Mississippi State has outperformed the SEC media’s expectations four straight years … Watching the spring game, I thought Mullen had four capable quarterbacks to choose from, and the new guy should perform well, just not up to Prescott’s standards.”
ESPN (5th in SEC West — 7.3 projected wins): “Now comes the hard part: Replacing the best QB to ever wear maroon and white. Can Mississippi State reach the postseason in Year 1 A.D. (After Dak)? It’ll need to find a ground game first — either in the backfield or under center.”
Athlon (7th in SEC West — 6-6, Liberty Bowl): “A bowl is within reach, but Mississippi State figures to take a step back in the win column.”
Lindy’s (7th in SEC West): “MSU has talent on its roster. It should be enough to qualify for a bowl, but the Bulldogs won’t compete with the conference’s elite until 2017.”
Sporting News (7th in SEC West — Birmingham Bowl): “Even with Prescott returning for his senior season in 2015, the Bulldogs were picked to finish last in the SEC West. Without him, that hasn’t changed.”
Preseason All-SEC selections: Fred Ross (1st x3, 2nd x2), Richie Brown (3rd x2, 4th x1), Brandon Holloway (2nd x1, 3rd x1), A.J. Jefferson (4th x1), Brandon Bryant (4th x1)
- ESPN spoke to an anonymous SEC coach who said a new quarterback “might help” Dan Mullen “a little bit because last year I think he depended on [Prescott] too much.”
- Athlon’s Mitch Light picked the Bulldogs as his “surprise” team in 2016. “We’ve picked them last in the SEC West almost by default,” he wrote. “Will they finish last? They never do, so that’s why they may surprise some people.”
- Athlon named Mississippi State as one of its “Top QB Battles,” and projected Nick Fitzgerald as the eventual victor.
- Athlon noted MSU finished No. 11 in the country in “finishing drives” last season, with the Bulldogs scoring 5.2 points on average when crossing the opponents’ 40-yard line.
- Lindy’s noted “the defense will act as the backbone of this year’s team,” saying both the defensive line and linebacker corps are deep, while the safeties — Kivon Coman and Brandon Bryant — are the most talented.
- Lindy’s listed Fred Ross as the nation’s ninth-best receiver, but wondered: “Can he keep up numbers without Dak Prescott at QB?” The magazine also listed Richie Brown as the country’s No. 11 outside linebacker.
- ESPN’s most likely game to win (based on the Football Power Index): South Alabama/Samford (98 percent). Least likely: at LSU (13 percent).
- Monday: Vanderbilt
- Wednesday: South Carolina