DANNY P. SMITH: MSU's Mullen wants winning to be the norm
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen wants to get the program to the point where getting wins like the one Saturday night against Florida become the norm.
That's why, despite the Bulldogs beating the 22nd-ranked Gators 10-7, Mullen didn't want to consider it an upset.
"Our team expected to win this game," Mullen said.
Still, it's difficult not to play up the importance of what the victory means to MSU.
The Bulldogs went to Gainesville and won, which is something they haven't done since 1965. Not to date myself, but that occurred the year before I was born. You can do the math.
MSU came close to beating Florida at home last year, but didn't have quite enough punch to overcome Tim Tebow, despite the two picks for touchdowns by former East Webster player Johnthan Banks.
Tebow wasn't around to bail out the Gators this time and the Bulldogs totally out-played them in front of their fans. The MSU defense showed a bend-but-don't-break style and the offense scored just enough points to come out on top.
When the final score came down the line, it was considered a surprise to many across the country along with some of the other upsets in the Top 25. Don't count Mullen as one of those.
It doesn't matter whether it's Florida, Georgia, Ole Miss or any other team on the schedule, Mullen believes his squad should win every time it steps onto the field. He has an attitude for winning and it rubs off on those around him.
The Bulldogs go about their business with the idea of beating any team that stands in their way.
MSU lines up on offense as if to say, 'we're going to run the football and it's up to you to stop us,' and the defense is getting better under the attacking style of coordinator Manny Diaz.
By beating the Gators, the Bulldogs are only one more win away from becoming bowl eligible. There are five more opportunities against UAB, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss to get that accomplished. There's a reason to believe there's at least one more win in that stretch.
MSU has come a long way in a short amount of time. It's funny the think that only a month ago the Bulldogs were 1-2 overall and 0-2 in the SEC. That had some people, including myself, shaking their head.
With consecutive wins against Georgia, Alcorn State, Houston and Florida, MSU, now 5-2 overall and 2-2 SEC, has earned its first national ranking (24th in The Associated Press and USA Today polls) since the 2001 season.
The Bulldogs have set themselves up for a really nice end of the season.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.