Another challenge awaits MSU football
MSU football coach Dan Mullen, middle, has a grim look on his face during Saturday night's 24-7 loss to Alabama. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Another challenge awaits the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
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After suffering its fifth loss of the season on Saturday night to a top 25 team (24-7 to Alabama), the Bulldogs look to move on.
Things don't get any easier as MSU goes on the road to take on No. 6 Arkansas. If the Bulldogs want to pull off the upset win, they will have to learn from their mistakes against Alabama.
"When you're playing top teams in the nation, you're not going to recover from making a lot of different mistakes," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "We made too many of those mistakes to beat one of the top teams in the country and we are going to work hard to get those things fixed."
Alabama had the top ranked defense in the country, but Arkansas presents a different challenge as they have the top ranked offense in the Southeastern Conference.
"Every team in this league brings you a different challenge," said Mullen. "We have to get ready for it and we'll get together plan for another nationally ranked team."
What the Razorbacks bring to the table will be even more difficult to adjust to, since they will have the home field advantage even though the game is being played in Little Rock.
"When you play on the road you have to execute at a really high level," said Mullen.
MSU hasn't had the season they were hoping for, but if they pull off the upset win over the Razorbacks they will become bowl eligible for the second time of the Mullen Era, which he thinks is a big deal.
"It's huge," said Mullen. "Getting into a bowl game is critical for your program. We need to get that sixth win to get bowl eligible."
With the season not going as well as the Bulldogs hoped, Mullen feels they were only a few key things away from it being a different story.
"It's been two plays," said Mullen. "We needed to make one more play to beat Auburn, make one more play to beat South Carolina, and all of a sudden we would have exceeded expectations."
The Bulldogs could be without several players this week as Chris Relf left with a concussion and Nickoe Whitley with an ankle injury. Mullen didn't have anything further to reports as of Sunday afternoon, but the players were to meet with trainers later in the day.
Another Bulldog who could be out for Saturday's game is senior linebacker Brandon Maye. Maye sat out during the Bulldogs 24-7 loss to Alabama due to a team suspension, and Mullen said they would decide this week whether or not the suspension would be for additional games.
There are some Bulldogs who are going to be able to play this week, but if they play could be the question. After two missed field goals, the kickers could have a long week ahead of them, but Mullen can't do anything to change what kickers are available.
"We are very very disappointed with our kickers," said Mullen. "We don't have free agency in college so I can't cut them and go hire a free agent, so we have to do a better job of getting them coached up and getting straight for this week."
Another MSU player who could possibly be knocked out of his starting role is senior left tackle James Carmon.
"He had three false start penalties, silly false start penalties in the first half," said Mullen. "We'll judge this week in practice to see how he rebounds in practice. If he comes back and has a great week of practice and great focus, he'll be back in the rotation, but we'll judge that like we do everything at practice."
Whoever MSU puts on the field, it will be seen by a national audience as the game is being broadcast on CBS. The Bulldogs haven't been on CBS for quite some time, so Mullen kind of likes being on the network.
"I think it's a neat deal," said Mullen. "It shows we're moving in the right direction. The CBS game of the week, you should be the first choice in games picked so hopefully we have a lot more coming up in the future."
Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday as the Bulldogs will once again have their hands full with a very talented SEC program.