Chances are, you're in an exceptionally good mood for a Monday morning, because most of you reading this are Mississippi State fans. And the Bulldogs are coming off a clutch series win over chief rival Ole Miss on the baseball diamond (CLICK HERE).
This puts MSU at 27-17 overall and 10-11 in SEC play. It's tied for third in the Western Division with Auburn and Ole Miss, a game behind Arkansas and four back of LSU. In the overall standings, State is tied for sixth, with Georgia and Vanderbilt a game behind. So the Bulldogs are in fine shape right now as far as making the SEC Tournament, with Alabama (6-15) and Tennessee (7-14) looking like the two teams that will get left out.
How high can MSU finish? Second in the West is a possibility, but let's look at the remaining SEC weekend schedules for the relevant teams.
• MSU: at Alabama, at Florida, vs. Kentucky
• Arkansas: vs. South Carolina, vs. Auburn, at Tennessee
• Auburn: at Georgia, at Arkansas, vs. Florida
• Ole Miss: vs. LSU, vs. Tennessee, at Vanderbilt
I don't see LSU coughing up first place, so these teams are the ones vying for second. They've all got some tough series ahead, but MSU might have the toughest road, having to visit Florida and then host UK (a Thursday start to that series). Kentucky is tied with South Carolina for first in the East, and Florida is two games back of them.
Between the Florida and Kentucky series, I'm sure State would be thrilled to win three of those six games. That makes this weekend's visit to Alabama that much more vital. A series loss could be devastating, and a sweep is almost a must. Going 5-4 down the stretch gets MSU to .500 in SEC play, and that helps the ol' NCAA résumé.
MSU has won six of its last seven games, including two consecutive SEC series. It needs to carry this momentum on, and that's part of what I plan to columnize about for tomorrow's Journal. The Bulldogs have to get it done while still fighting through some injuries, but the good news is that there is no midweek game because of final exams, so guys can rest up.
Hunter Renfroe said yesterday that the Ole Miss series could be a "game changer," and he could be proved right if MSU builds on this.