There are many reasons to believe Mississippi State will equal or exceed last season's success – 31 reasons, in fact. Here's Reason No. 10.
The general consensus (which is often wrong, mind you) has Mississippi State finishing fourth in the SEC Western Division this season, behind Alabama, LSU and Arkansas. Now, MSU could finish right there and still have had as good or better a season than last year, when it went 9-4 and finished fifth.
The West is just that tough.
But this whole exercise is about considering greater possibilities, so how reasonable would it be to view MSU as – gasp! – a contender in the West? Or at least to finish in the top three?
Well, State does get to play LSU and Alabama at home, but must take on Arkansas in Little Rock. I've blogged previously in this series how the Bulldogs' schedule is set up rather favorably, so that's a reason for hope.
Also, I'm not 100 percent sold on Arkansas and LSU. I'm fairly certain both will be very good, as the Hogs have all those offensive weapons returning, and the Tigers have reloaded with talent. On the other hand, Arkansas is breaking in a new quarterback (Tyler Wilson), and I have little confidence that LSU's Jordan Jefferson can be much better than last season.
Both of those games are very winnable for MSU. Alabama is another story. The Tide is a legit national title contender, and it's manhandled State the past three years. This year's game is in Starkville, and maybe if a division title is on the line, we'll get a good game.