There are many reasons to believe Mississippi State will equal or exceed last season's success – 31 reasons, in fact. Here's Reason No. 4.
I put "favorable" in quotes because even a relatively easy SEC schedule is not easy by any reasonable standard. But, if you have to play such a schedule, you couldn't ask for a much better set-up than what MSU has.
Its three toughest games will be at home: LSU (Sept. 15), South Carolina (Oct. 15) and Alabama (Nov. 12). All three of those teams should contend for a division title, and many experts believe Alabama and LSU are national title contenders. You can bet Davis Wade Stadium will be packed out and rockin' for those games.
Those three are nicely spread out, and I wrote yesterday about how the non-conference schedule could soften things a bit. But of course there are plenty of other big tests, like road trips to Auburn, Georgia and Arkansas. Coach Dan Mullen is 6-4 in road games in two seasons, including 4-4 in SEC play. Not bad for a program getting back on its feet.
By the way, Phil Steele rates MSU's 2011 schedule the 15th-toughest in the country, and fifth-toughest in the SEC.
I have said before (as have others) that if MSU is to make a run at the Western Division title, it must fare well in those three key home games against LSU, South Carolina and Alabama. Win at least two of them. Tall order, but it'd be hard to make the setup any more "favorable."