Smith on Sports: Important to move on from Bama

Danny P. Smith

Sports Editor

The Alabama game is over.

For as much that went wrong in that game, and poor officiating had much to do with it, there is nothing that can be changed about the 24-0 loss for the Mississippi State Bulldogs now.

It's very important for MSU to move on and just forget Alabama. It's over and done.

The Bulldogs must not let that loss doom the rest of their season. They can't let that lead to another defeat on Saturday against Arkansas or at Ole Miss on Thanksgiving night.

There is still plenty to accomplish this season for State. In order to finish the regular season with an 8-4 record and reach a nice bowl game during the holidays, the Bulldogs must go into the next two games with fight and determination.

The only back-to-back loses for MSU this season have been to Kentucky and Florida. That must not happen again.

The Bulldogs can't look at the 0-6 Southeastern Conference record of the Razorbacks and just assume they can show up and get a win. It doesn't happen that way in this league.

Even though it didn't pull out a victory, Arkansas played LSU to a seven-point game at 24-17. That shows me that the Razorbacks are improving and MSU needs to be on guard.

This has not been the type of season that most fans of the Bulldogs expected or wanted. They envisioned something more like an 8-2 mark or even 9-1 at this point instead of 6-4.

State head coach Joe Moorhead addresses the difference between goals and expectations during his weekly press conference on Monday.

"Goals are what you aspire to as a team and expectations, to me, are levied based on a confluence of circumstances, for lack of a better term," Moorhead said. "Our ceiling of success is winning the SEC, getting into the (College Football) Playoff and competing for a national championship. Our floor of success is six wins and qualifying for a bowl game. So, right now, we obviously didn't achieve the former, we have already achieved the latter and the last two games will determine if we are able to get to nine wins or get to a good bowl game."

Right now it looks like the Outback Bowl, a New Year's Day bowl game in Tampa, Fla., is still a possibility for the Bulldogs, as some projections suggest, if they can somehow pull out victories in the next two games.

That won't be easy. Arkansas is a very tough game from a mental standpoint for MSU because it lands right in between Alabama and Ole Miss. It can be considered the classic trap game.

State should be the better team on the field in both of the upcoming opportunities and will probably be favored.

As is always the case, games aren't won on paper. The Bulldogs are going to have to go out and earn it.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.