Thursday is here. That means Saturday will be here before we know it.
As I said last week, “the Auburn game is (was) not a must win situation, but the Vandy game is.” Why? Well, no offense to Vandy, but they are the weakest SEC team that MSU will play this year. If the wheels are spinning in your head-in order to evaluate that last comment, just think, we already know how good Auby is, Arkansas seems to be improved, and with history on our side, we are still playing Vandy. Not only that, but winning in Little Rock or Fayette-Nam is not a common feat for the Dawgs.
I really feel that this weekend could be the catalyst for the rest of State’s season. A win over Vandy would improve the Dawg’s record to 2-1 (1-1 SEC), which looks and feels a lot better than 1-2 (0-2 SEC). A victory would also result in a huge confidence boost for State, showing them that they not only CAN win, but that they can win on the road in the SEC. And finally, we can’t go without mentioning what this game would mean for the September 26 crowd and atmosphere in Starkville, when LSU comes to town.
Earlier this week, I mentioned how Saturday will be the evidence of two hungry teams doing battle. I’m almost positive that Vandy views us in the same manner that we are viewing them in- that being the weakest SEC team that they’ll face this year as well. Both teams share the same record, and both will find that wins are at a premium this year.
Vandy is trying to build on their success from last year, where the Dores won their first bowl game since 1955. The Gold and Black are led by their Sophomore QB Larry Smith, and a duo of RB’s in Zac Stacy and Warren Norman, who both average over 5 yds a carry. They started off the year by pouncing on WCU 45-0, putting up over 600 total yards, while barely giving up over 100. In week 2, they fought LSU in a 23-9 loss, where their D only allowed 2 TD scores in 5 redzone trips. Vandy is currently boasting the country’s 18th best defense, and will no doubt provide a tough challenge for the Dawgs, especially since their run D is ranked 9th nationally.
So what do I think about this weekend?
If State hopes to pull this one out, they will have to overcome an offense very similar to Auburn’s, that torched the Dawg D for almost 600 yards. The key will be whether or not our boys can once again, find their identity on that side of the ball- which means refusing to be pushed around, and creating turnovers. More agressive play calling and game planning will have to be in full affect, on both sides of the ball. The running game is by far the most important component for MSU to come home with a win. By that, I mean being able to run the ball themselves, while stopping Vandy from doing the same. This week I think the Dawgs will be hungrier, they’ll find ways to get the ball to Bumphis, Berry, Elliot, Heavens, and Wilder, and prove to themselves and the fanbase that we should still be known for our defense. I’m not a betting man, but I’ve seen where the Dawgs are 9 point dogs (no pun), and I haven’t seen an over/under for total points, but I’d have to pick an under of 36 points in this one.