Week 1 - Mississippi State at Oklahoma State

Posted Aug 29, 2013

Week 1 Fearless Prediction - Mississippi State at Oklahoma State

Mississippi State (0-0) at Oklahoma State (0-0), in Houston Aug. 31, 3:30, ABC/ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The Big 12 needs this one.

Mississippi State is a good, strong team that should be improved a bit after a hot-and-cold 2012, but it's not going to win the SEC West. Middle of the pack at best, there are just enough holes to keep the Bulldogs from being players, but they have just enough talent to upset any of the big boys on the slate. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State is considered one of the favorites to win the Big 12 title after a good rebuilding season. While a loss obviously wouldn't mean anything in the conference title race, it would be a rough hit for a league that wants to push to be No. 2 behind the SEC.

Dan Mullen needs this one.

The Mississippi State head coach isn't exactly on a hot seat, but he could use a good win over a brand name team after losing five of the last six games last season. With the SEC season to deal with, a strong record will be tough to get if the Bulldogs can't pull this off.

Why Mississippi State Might Win: Can the Bulldogs throw on the Cowboy secondary? Oklahoma State didn't give up too many big plays last year, but it got dinked and dunked on to deal allowing 280 yards per game. Tyler Russell is one of the SEC's best pure passers, and if he gets time he should be able to get the offense moving. MSU will be physical up front with a line that should be a major positive to kick things off, and it's going to need to pound away to control the clock and keep the Cowboy offense off the field.
Why Oklahoma State Might Win: Oklahoma State isn't the type of team to go against when you're trying to break in a new secondary. The Bulldog safeties should be solid, but the corners are a bit of a question mark after losing Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay. Even with them, the pass defense was too shaky. Making matters worse is a MSU pass rush that's not going to show up for long stretches; Oklahoma State should be able to bomb away when needed.

Who To Watch Out For: The OSU quarterbacks. After all the controversy and all the speculation, the Cowboys are going to work with both of the top options. 6-1, 210-pound Clint Chelf is the least talented option, but he's a baller who makes things happen. The tools aren't there compared to the other quarterbacks, but he he's a decent runner who knows how to keep the chains moving. If he can cut down on the picks, he could be the main man. 6-2, 205-pound J.W. Walsh is a terrific runner with a solid midrange arm, but just when everything started to click last season he suffered a knee injury. He'll get his shot, too.

- Oklahoma State can keep up the pace in a shootout, but Mississippi State isn't equipped for it. The Bulldogs have a big advantage if this gets a bit messy and physical, while the Cowboys would love to start throwing and keep throwing in a wild and crazy game.

- The two programs have met four times with MSU winning a strange 29-11 battle in 1999. The series is tied at 2-2.

- Mississippi State didn't beat a bowl team and only came up with one win – Middle Tennessee – against a team that finished with a winning record. The 7-0 start was a bit of a mirage when the schedule changed. If the Bulldogs can pull out a win over OSU, it could be another interesting stat with five of the next six games at home before dealing with a brutal back half.

What Will Happen: The flash of the Oklahoma State attack will overcome the power of the Mississippi State ground game. The Bulldog secondary will be fine, but the Cowboys should be able to wing the ball around just enough make Russell press and make a few key mistakes. Expect the OSU defense to be a bit more opportunistic.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 34 … Mississippi State 27
Line: Oklahoma State -12.5 o/u: 60.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 4