Mississippi St Bulldogs 2023 College Football Preview
July 31, 2023
Record – 9-4
ATS – 7-5-1
The Bulldogs got off to a hot start and won five games in the first half of the season. They lost two of their next three contests but that included defeats at the hands of ROLL TIDE and the unbeatable Georgia Bulldogs. Mississippi St finished strong and won three of their final four regular season games and then took down a scrappy Illinois squad in the ReliaQuest Bowl (19-10). Legendary HC Mike Leach passed away suddenly in December and interim HC Zach Arnett (won bowl game) will take over the reins in 2023.
Mississippi St Bulldogs 2023 Outlook
The Bulldogs will be using a much more balanced attack this season under new OC Kevin Barbay (Appalachian St) but it’s good to know that you’ve got the school’s all-time leader passer in your back pocket in Will Rogers (3,974, 35-8 TD to INT LY). The WR group is deep despite the loss of leading WR Rara Thomas (626, 7 TD) but they may not have a dominating #1 option in the group. We’ll see how things go. Note the TEs caught only 5 (!) passes LY and that position will participate more in the THROW GAME this year. The Bulldogs have a solid 1-2 punch at RB in Jo’quavious Marks (582, 9 TD, #1 rusher) and former Penn St specimen Keyvone Lee (career 1,062, 6 TD, 30 receptions). We expect a relatively smooth transition to the new offense as they’ve got four returning starters and 100 career starts on the offensive line, and QB Will Rogers is a quick and judicious distributor of the football.
Mississippi St had their best overall performance on defense since 2018 LY as they ended the season ranked #5 in the SEC in both rushing defense and pass efficiency D. The Bulldogs retain just four starters but the good news is that those holdovers include their top-three (!) tacklers. The LB unit will be stout with the return of Jett Johnson (#1 tackler, 8.5 TFL) and Nathaniel Watson (#2 tackler, 6 sacks, 12 TFL) whilst the DL features several seniors and lots of size. The big concern on defense is a secondary that brings back only one starter and loses a #1 NFL DC (!) at CB in Emmanuel Forbes who was a PICK-SIX ROBOT during his time in Starkville (3 in 2020, 3 in 2022). We’re also worried about a potential lack of PENETRATING ability given the departure of Tyrus Wheat (17 career sacks) and DE Randy Charlton (4 sacks LY).
The Bulldogs have to work in a new punter and PK but they made a pair of good pick-ups. It’s never bad to have an AUSSIE handling the punting duties (Keelan Crimmins) and Nick Barr-Mira is an experienced, albeit somewhat-erratic PK (35-49 FG career with UCLA). We love the SWEET ACTION brewing in the return game as both KR Lideatrick Griffin (32.3) and PR Zavion Thomas (13.5) took one to the CRIBBY HIZZY in 2022.
Overall – We LIKEY LIKEY. The non-conference assignments are soft with the toughest challenge coming in week two at home vs Arizona. They also got a helping hand from the Michigan schedule-maker ** as they miss both Georgia and Tennessee in crossover action.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at South Cackalacky (Sept 23)
One of a few tricky situational spots on the docket is the week four road date with the COCKS as it falls between yuuuge home games with LSU and ROLL TIDE.
** fact check: maybe
Season Win Total
Market consensus July 31
Over 6 -115
Under 6 -115
There are talented pieces sprinkled liberally throughout the roster and the schedule is very manageable.
Mississippi St, then known as the Mississippi A&M Aggies, appeared in and won their first bowl game in 1911. That game was the BICARDI BOWL and it as played in Havana, Cuba.
The MAROONS won their only SEC title back in 1941 and finished the season with record of 8-1-1. For proof that the universe has a sense of humor, Mississippi St managed to defeat Florida, ROLL TIDE, Auburn, and Ole Miss that year, but they lost to Duquesne.
The GREAT STATE of MISSISSIPPI is a reliable and important exporter of such things as soybeans, cotton, poultry, and HOT CHICKS.
We’re very interested to see how the season turns out for the Bulldogs as they move away from the one-dimensional passing attack featured over the last few seasons. They’ll be more balanced on offense and they always seem to find a way to be good enough on defense to win their fair share of games. The roster doesn’t look like anything special but there’s no reason they can’t punch their ticket to a bowl game and pull a big upset at some point. GO BULLDOGS!