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Mississippi State Bulldogs Betting – Mississippi State Bulldogs 2011 College Football Preview

Posted by Blake Frazier on 8/2/2011 6:49:41 PM
mississippi bulldogs betting

The last time Mississippi State made itself a regularly relevant presence in the SEC West on the gridiron, Jackie Sherrill walked the sidelines in Starkville, Mississippi. Sherrill, a former coach at Pittsburgh and Texas A&M, owned Cotton Bowl wins when the game meant something, and he also pocketed a win in the Sugar Bowl back in 1982 against Herschel Walker and Georgia. Sherrill enabled Mississippi State to be a team that sports betting analysts took seriously. Now, it seems as though the Bulldogs are once again becoming a program that will gain an appreciable amount of respect from anyone trying to make an informed sports bet.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has shaped plenty of good quarterbacks in his time as an assistant at Florida and Utah. His wizardry as a play caller and as a student of the sport has turned him into a hot coaching commodity, a man who was supposed to jump ship at the end of last season. However, Mullen resisted the lure of other programs and committed to stay in Starkville for at least one more year. This alone makes Mississippi State a more formidable program with a brighter future.

Speaking of quarterbacks, not many experts expected Chris Relf to be one of Mullen’s elite pigskin pitchers, but by the end of 2010, he was firmly in command of the offense and was a weapon as a runner and passer. Even MLB baseball betting gurus with minimal football knowledge had to have been surprised by such a development. Relf finished 2010 with almost 1,800 yards passing and an impressive 880 yards rushing. That was while he was splitting time early in the season. Relf is now firmly in command of the offense and when Mullen has a quarterback he can trust, he is a wizard calling plays and exploiting mismatches.

Relf’s backfield buddy, Vick Ballard, also returns after rushing for nearly a thousand yards while splitting carries for much of 2010. Ballard and Ladarius Perkins give Mullen two outstanding backs that will take an appreciable amount of pressure off Relf. Mullen’s spread option offense is unique in its use of power rushing plays. The question for the Bulldogs offense is: Where will the big plays in the passing game come from? Dropped passes plagued the Bulldogs all year in 2010, and while Chad Bumphis and Chris Smith are back, neither is keeping defensive coordinators on edge. Until the passing game develops, Mullen and company will be forced to deal with teams stacking the tackle box to defend the run game.

The Bulldogs played incredible defense for Mullen and former coordinator Manny Diaz in 2010. Not content to sit back and get run over, Diaz dialed up blitz after blitz and for the most part it was effective. Diaz is now gone but his replacement Chris Wilson has promised that the aggressive playcalling will continue. State can afford to take so many chances because its entire secondary returns intact. Being able to rely on man coverage allows the defense to overcompensate for some of the losses up front and still bring pressure.

The challenge for the defense will be in replacing all three starting linebackers. Some of the pain will be eased by a defensive line that returns three of four starters and signed a handful of talented freshmen. If the defensive line can be as dominant as it was at times last season, that should at least give the new linebackers some time to grow into their roles.

The schedule is as daunting as any SEC West schedule could be. The good news for Mississippi State is that its constant opponent from the East is Kentucky, a team the Bulldogs have beaten the past two years. The Bulldogs get Auburn and LSU in the first month before a rough finish to the season facing Alabama at home, Arkansas on the road, and then home again to face Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. It’s an easier schedule than last season and should allow Mullen to equal last season’s win total.

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