Mississippi State’s football team improved from four wins to seven in Coach Mike Leach’s second season in 2021. Could the Bulldogs take another jump this year? Let’s break it down. Here is the preview for your betting college football
Mississippi State Bulldogs Must Bet Games of the 2022 NCAA Football SeasonMississippi State finished 7-6 last season after losing 34-7 to Texas Tech in the Liberty Bowl, a 12th straight season that MSU played in a postseason game.
Quarterback Will Rodgers started every game last year. He led the SEC in passing yards per game (364.5) and finished third in the FBS in total passing yards (4,739). His passing yards were the third most in SEC single-season history. He ranked second in the SEC and seventh in the nation in passing touchdowns (36). Rogers joined 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow of LSU as the only quarterbacks in college football over the last 22 seasons to throw for 4,700+ yards and 35+ touchdowns while completing at least 73 percent of passes.
He also joined Burrow as the only SEC quarterbacks to average 360+ passing yards per game in a season since at least 2005. After breaking nearly every freshman passing mark in MSU history in 2020, broke 25 more records during his sophomore season, including Dak Prescott’s records for single-season total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns that Prescott set as a fourth-year junior and fifth-year senior. Rogers finished the regular season with a streak of 10 straight 300+ yard passing games. The only quarterbacks with a longer streak dating back to 2004 were fellow Mike Leach proteges Graham Harrell (16) and Gardner Minshew II (11).
Rogers did lose leading wideout Makai Polk to the NFL. He the SEC with a school-record 105 catches and set the single-season program record for receiving yards with 1,046. Polk had nine touchdowns through the air, which tied for fourth in single-season Bulldog history. He became one of only four players in the SEC since 2000 to record 100-plus receptions, 1,000-plus receiving yards and nine or more receiving touchdowns in a single season.
Justin Robinson, coming off a national championship at Georgia, saw the impact Polk was able to have last year and the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder wants to contribute early on as well after transferring to State in January.
“That definitely played a part in my decision,” Robinson said. “It showed me that I could come in and really make a difference like Makai did. I’m ready to fill his shoes or whatever I need to do.”
Several other receivers that have been in Leach’s system are expected to see their roles increase this fall. Jaden Walley is an NFL-caliber receiver who finished second on the team with 628 yards on 55 catches with six scores last year. Senior Caleb Ducking, a former junior college transfer, redshirted in 2020 and played in seven games last year and provides a huge target at 6-foot-5, 200-pounds.
Leading rusher Dillon Johnson Is back after rushing for just 485 yards and four scores. Jo’quavious Marks was named to the preseason watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, given to the most versatile player in major college football. He has not only proven he can pick up yardage by carrying the football but can also be an effective option in the passing game as both a blocker and receiver out of the backfield. The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder has rushed 176 times for 728 yards and nine touchdowns in his career while also hauling in 143 passes for 770 yards and three more scores. The offensive line lost star OT Charles Cross and also loses right tackle Scott Lashley.
On defense, junior cornerback Emmanuel Forbes has been named to the watch list for the 28th Chuck Bednarik Award, which is presented annually to the outstanding defensive player in college football. In 2021, Forbes started all 13 games for the Bulldogs and totaled 60 tackles on the season, including 46 solo stops. He tallied 5.0 tackles for loss with one sack and led the team with three interceptions returned for a total of 33 yards.
It was a big loss when veteran playmaker Aaron Brule took off for Michigan State, but the linebacking corps gets back the team’s top two tacklers, Jett Johnson on the outside and Nathaniel Watson inside.
MSU has eight returning starters on each side of the football, all vital pieces of a team that ended the 2021 regular season ranked in the top 30 nationally in both total offense and total defense.
Unfortunately, the schedule is one of the nation’s toughest with the typical SEC West grind as well as a visit from defending national champion Georgia. The season opener vs. Memphis will not be easy as the Bulldogs lost 31-29 at Memphis last season despite Rogers completing 50 of 67 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns.
Mississippi State 2022 Expert Prediction: 7-5 record, bet over 6.5 wins
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