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SMITH COLUMN: MSU fails to get job done again

October 16, 2011

By DANNY P. SMITH
Sports Editor
sdnsports@bellsouth.net

Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen spent much of his post-game press conference Saturday telling us things we already knew.
"When you play in this league, you are going to play top 25 teams and top 15 teams every single week," Mullen said.
For those of us who have followed the Bulldogs for any length of time, the fact that MSU plays in the Southeastern Conference and that it's going to face several ranked teams during the course of the year was not a huge revelation.
After another disappointing loss for the Bulldogs, a 14-12 decision to the South Carolina Gamecocks at Davis Wade Stadium, the fans really don't want to hear how tough the league is right now. The only thing they want to know is why is there still a goose egg on the left side of the SEC record this deep into the season?
MSU had a chance to do something about that against South Carolina, but it was case of failing to get the job done again.
With the loss to the Gamecocks, combined with a 41-34 loss at Auburn, a 19-6 loss to LSU at home and a 24-10 defeat at Georgia, the Bulldogs are 0-4 in the SEC and that's a tough pill for people to swallow.
An open date can only allow more time for MSU supporters to fume about the things that went wrong against South Carolina and what might have been.
The Gamecocks had reason to celebrate when wide receiver Alshon Jeffery went up to catch a 4-yard pass for the winning touchdown from Connor Shaw with 3:50 remaining in the game. South Carolina is now bowl eligible with its sixth victory.
"They made one more play than we did," Mullen said. "We make that play and we are in our locker room celebrating. There's not a lot of difference to me from top to bottom."
With a 3-4 overall record, it's going to take some work for the Bulldogs to qualify for postseason play.
There are winnable games remaining on the schedule against Kentucky, UT-Martin and Ole Miss, but there can't be a hiccup in any of those games or MSU won't go bowling this season.
Is it the Bulldogs being so close, but yet so far away? Mullen seems to think so.
"We're not far off from where we want to be, but that final step is a tough one," Mullen said. "We've got to take that final step to get over that hump to become a top 10 or top 15 team. We've got to finish these games out and find a way to make the big play to win the game when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter."
MSU has been able to do that in non-conference games, but here's a scary thought. What if the Bulldogs hadn't come back last week to defeat UAB on the road. What if they had lost the overtime game to Louisiana Tech? How does an overall record of 2-5 or 1-6 sound right now? It could have very easily been that way.
Maybe MSU can feel fortunate that the situation isn't worse than it is and there's still an opportunity to salvage something out of this season.

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.

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