The 2012 season started out as a sweet dream for the Mississippi St. Bulldogs. After starting 7-0, it seemed that the sky was the limit for a team appearing to make a comeback to competitiveness in the SEC. And then reality set in, and set in hard. The Bulldogs are currently on a three-game losing streak, and have lost all three by 20 points or more. The season isn’t over, and though they are no longer competitive in this year’s SEC, all is not lost for the Bulldogs.
For starters, the losing streak the Bulldogs are on isn’t a typical losing streak. The losses have come against (in order) the Alabama Crimson Tide, Texas A&M Aggies, and LSU Tigers. Right there you have three of the top teams in the conference and the Bulldogs had to travel to Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge at both ends of the streak. Not to mention that this team, not equipped with an elite defense by any standard, had to go up against A.J. McCarron, Johnny Football, and Zach Mettenberger in succession. My brother has used the term “hell run” to describe a particularly rough stretch to a team’s schedule over the years; he’s only used it in reference to college basketball teams, but it would easily apply to what the Bulldogs have been through in recent weeks.
But all really isn’t lost for the Bulldogs. Their final two games are easy by comparison to the three they’ve lost recently. Against the Arkansas Razorbacks and Ole Miss Rebels, the Bulldogs will face teams that are going through worse seasons and don’t possess nearly the defense nor the depth on offense that the Bulldogs’ last three opponents do. In short, these last two will be a breath of fresh air after a rough three-week stretch, and provide the Bulldogs with a clear opportunity to finish up an otherwise good season strong.
Of course, there is a couple of things that the Bulldogs will hopefully take note of regarding their final two opponents. First is that both the Razorbacks and Rebels are treading the line when it comes to bowl eligibility with the Razorbacks at 4-6 and the Rebels at 5-5. The Bulldogs face the Razorbacks this week in what is a must-win game for the Razorbacks, and you can’t underestimate that kind of motivation. As for the Rebels: even if they lose this week to the Tigers, all they need to do is beat the Bulldogs to get that sixth win and become eligible. Having six wins doesn’t always guarantee a bowl berth, but a team like the Rebels will take their chances as long as they actually are eligible.
Should the Bulldogs win these final two games and finish at 9-3, they still have a good chance of playing on January 1. Two years ago, the Bulldogs did play on New Year’s Day and were successful in the Gator Bowl, trouncing the Michigan Wolverines 52-14. This year, a 9-3 Bulldogs team could end up in the Gator Bowl or maybe the Outback Bowl. Either way it would be a second January 1 bowl game in three seasons for the Bulldogs and that is something that has never happened in the history of their football program.