We’re counting down to MSU’s season opener against Oklahoma State on Aug. 31, giving you a significant number to ponder as August trudges on. Today’s number is…
MSU coach Dan Mullen talks often about one of his major goals being an SEC Western Division championship. The Bulldogs have done it once, in 1998. It’s a tall order, especially given the quality of teams in the West right now.
Alabama finished second in the West in 2011, to LSU, but still won the BCS national title. The Crimson Tide has won two consecutive national championships and three of the last four. Since 2008, it has won three West crowns. LSU has won four of the last 10. And you’ve had teams like Arkansas and Auburn pop up and win it in the last decade. And now Texas A&M has joined up, and so long as that autograph thing doesn’t take Johnny Manziel off the field, the Aggies could vie for the title this fall.
During Mullen’s tenure, MSU has lost 16 of its 21 games against Western foes. The wins: Ole Miss (three times), Arkansas and Auburn. The Arkansas and Auburn wins came last year, when State went 4-4 in SEC play. Getting past the 4-4 mark would be a good start for MSU, which hasn’t had a winning league mark since 1999.
I haven’t seen anyone project MSU finishing higher than fourth in the West this season. It’s going to take the Bulldogs doing the unexpected – like beating an Alabama or LSU or A&M – before outside observers will believe that a division title is attainable for this team.