Editor's note: This article is part of the Clarion Ledger’s summer series addressing questions surrounding the Mississippi State and Ole Miss football programs. Today, we take a look at Vegas projections.
Mississippi State won eight games in the first season of the Joe Moorhead era. One year later, Bovada has the Bulldogs' win total projected for that same exact number. Most sports books have State slated at either eight or 8.5 wins.
It won't be easy for Moorhead to match last year's total, but there are reasons to think he just might. He gets to face three of the teams he lost to on the road last year — Kentucky, LSU and Alabama — at Davis Wade Stadium this season.
If the Bulldogs can manage to win two of those games, the most likely combination being Kentucky and LSU, then they'd be in great shape to match or even exceed eight wins. State has a lot of games to get through before battling the Crimson Tide on Nov. 16, though.
The season starts against the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Aug. 31. The Bulldogs beat the Ragin Cajuns 56-10 at Davis Wade Stadium last year, and it would surprise no one if the score is similar this time around.
Then comes three straight home games against Southern Miss, Kansas State and Kentucky. The Golden Eagles haven't beaten Mississippi State since 1988, and the Bulldogs beat Kansas State 31-10 in Manhattan, Kansas, last year.
There's a good chance State goes into its revenge match against Kentucky with a perfect 3-0 record. UK is not expected to be as good as it was last year when it won 10 games for the first time since 1977. The Dawgs could be 4-0 before heading to Auburn for their first true road game of the season.
Mississippi State was a drastically different team on the road than it was at home last season. The offense averaged nearly 150 more yards per game at home than on the road.
Road games against Auburn, Tennessee and Texas A&M could be the difference between reaching eight wins or not. Those three games come within a four-game stretch of the schedule. The fourth game in that span is a home game against LSU, which is obviously not an easy victory either.
Mississippi State football: How high should expectations be in 2019?
After easing into the season with four very winnable games, the middle third of State's season will be the determinant in how the Bulldogs fare overall. If Mississippi State gets through that middle third with a 2-2 record, it's in good shape to reach eight wins.
The final third of the season is full of must-win games against Arkansas, Abilene Christian and Ole Miss. State has to face Arkansas on the road, but it's clear Chad Morris is very much still in re-building mode. The Dawgs' final three games of the year are at home, with Alabama being the toughest one.
Ole Miss football: How high should expectations be in 2019?
Contact Tyler Horka at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tbhorka on Twitter. To read more of Tyler's work, subscribe to the Clarion Ledger today!