SEC Power Rankings: Alabama, Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia All in the Title Hunt

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Oct 6, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback

Tyler Russell

(17) passes the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium. Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

12. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Last Season: 8-5 (4-4)

Key Addition: Chris Jones

Key Word: Regression


Mississippi State bolted out of the gate to a 7-0 record and into the discussion as the nations most surprising team. But a 1-5 finish to the season, including a loss to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl, ended the enthusiasm that was building up around the Bulldog program.

MSU will return few of the key parts from last season, but will have quarterback Tyler Russell. During the seven game stretch last season, Russell was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country before running into Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M’s defenses. But Russell now has that experience under his belt, and should be able to play more consistently this season.

He’ll have to do it without three of his top receivers from last season as Chris Smith, Chad Bumphis, and Arceto Clark are all gone. He’ll still have LaDarius Perkins in the backfield, however.

The Bulldogs will also have a much more difficult schedule this season. Mississippi State started last season against Jackson State, Auburn, Troy, South Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Middle Tennessee – not necessarily the cream of the crop in college football. This season MSU opens with Oklahoma State, and will sub the Tennessee game for South Carolina. The schedule doesn’t favor a repeat 8-win season.