Mississippi State Bulldogs get back to work

After an emotionally taxing bye week, Mississippi State must return to business.
The No. 17-ranked Bulldogs visit No. 11 Alabama on Saturday (6:15 p.m., ESPN2), and that prospect should help them quickly get refocused.
“I guess you can just turn on film of Alabama; that’ll get their minds straight again of the task we have at hand,” coach Dan Mullen said Sunday. “But I think for us, it’s their game plan routine and (getting) into the game week routine. We’ll get them back on a normal schedule for themselves.”
The Crimson Tide (7-2, 4-2 SEC) is coming off a tough 24-21 loss at LSU, so while a second consecutive BCS championship is out of the picture, this is still a mighty dangerous team, especially at home.
“When you deal with teams like Alabama, they’re a very well-coached football team, they play hard, they have a lot of talent at every single position across the board,” Mullen said. “When you deal with those teams, you’re going to have to play a great football game. You’re going to have to follow your plan exactly.”
A pursuit of such precision means that MSU (7-2, 3-2) must somehow put last week behind it, when it dealt with the death of sophomore defensive end Nick Bell.
That put preparation for Alabama on the backburner somewhat, although that’s not the main focus for Mullen in a bye week.
The focus, he said, is “about the opportunity to see where we are as a football team, study ourselves, and see how we can improve ourselves.”
Newton not a worry
Another issue that arose last week was the recruitment of Cam Newton, the Auburn quarterback who’s at the center of a pay-for-play controversy. Ex-MSU quarterback John Bond has said that Newton, who played junior college ball last year, was being shopped around by a rogue agent.
Nobody has claimed Newton was aware of what was going on. Mullen said MSU did its due diligence regarding that matter and that he’s not thought of that situation since December, which is when Bond said he was approached by the agent.
“The truth of the situation is that the people who need to know the truth, know the truth,” Mullen said.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or brad.locke@djournal.com.

MSU rises to 19th in BCS standings
– Oregon and Auburn remained atop the BCS standings released on Sunday night, while Mississippi State, idle on Saturday, eased up
one spot to No. 19.
Alabama, this week’s opponent for the Bulldogs, fell six spots to No. 12 in the BCS standings.
LSU, 10th a week ago, soared to No. 5 after beating Bama.
MSU rose four spots to 17th in the latest AP media poll and is 18th in the other major polls.

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal