I've been remiss in not summing up Mississippi State's presence in the new Athlon Sports college football preview magazine, so let me remedy that. If you haven't yet picked up a copy (only $7.99!), well, you're missing out, and not just because yours truly wrote the MSU preview copy.
The Bulldogs pop up in several places in this year's edition, so let's get to it.
• Athlon has MSU at No. 27 in its preseason rankings and predicts a fourth-place finish in the SEC Western Division, behind Alabama, LSU and Arkansas. The bowl prediction: Liberty, against SMU. Don't know about you, but two trips to Memphis in one season is a most unattractive prospect.
• Athlon ranks each unit, and here's where MSU stands among SEC teams: third at quarterback, fifth at running back, eighth at receiver/tight end, sixth at offensive line, sixth at defensive line, 12th at linebacker, and fifth at defensive back.
• One of Athlon's Key Games for this coming season is MSU at Auburn, which will be Sept. 10 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It's the Bulldogs' second game of the season. Athlon writes, "Knocking off the defending champs on the road would send a message that the Bulldogs have staying power."
• Athlon put together an All-SEC team, and four Bulldogs made it. WR Chad Bumphis is second team, while QB Chris Relf, DL Josh Boyd and CB Corey Broomfield are all third team.
• On the list of top transfers is new linebacker Brandon Maye, who has come down from Clemson as a post-graduate transfer and will play this season for MSU.
• In its Tough Acts to Follow section, Athlon lists four players that are going to be hard to replace: Cam Newton (Auburn), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), A.J. Green (Georgia), and Derek Sherrod (MSU).
• One part of the MSU preview that the Athlon folks did themselves was a scouting report, where an anonymous coach comments on the Bulldogs. A sampling: "I thought they were one of the nation's most underrated teams last season. … I think another bowl game is a certainty for the Bulldogs. If people sleep on them, they're going to be in for a rude awakening."
There is plenty of other good info in the mag that would be of interest to MSU fans.
• Among the top new assistant coaches listed is former MSU defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who left Starkville after one season to take the same post at Texas.
• Coaches on the hot seat, according to Athlon, include UAB's Neil Callaway and Georgia's Mark Richt, and seats that are "getting warm" include Memphis' Larry Porter and Ole Miss' Houston Nutt. MSU will see all of those coaches this season.
• Athlon ranked the new coaches of 2010 – guys in their first season at a particular school, not just first-time head coaches – and Louisiana Tech's Sonny Dykes checks in at No. 9, Kentucky's Joker Phillips is No. 11 and Porter is dead last at No. 22. State faces Dykes and Phillips this year, too.