5. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Saturday, Oct. 12; Neyland Stadium; Knoxville, Tenn.
Coming off a top 25 season in Joe Moorhead’s first year on the job, we don’t know what to expect from the Mississippi State Bulldogs. They are entering their second year in the Moorhead’s system, so they should be better in such an advanced offensive scheme.
Add in Bob Shoop’s brilliance on the defensive side of the ball, which was only hampered when he was forced under Butch Jones, and the Bulldogs could pose lots of problems. However, at the same time, this team lost a lot of talent, most notably Nick Fitzgerald.
So will it be like another first year for Moorhead with new guys in the system, or will it be like a second year? That’s the question as to how difficult things might get. Assuming this just means a repeat of last year, Mississippi State will still then be one of the more difficult games on Tennessee football’s schedule.
They were 8-5 after all. The Vols at least get them at home, which is a huge deal. However, it probably would have only made the difference in one more spot were the Bulldogs on the road. Still, while the South Carolina Gamecocks are a bellwether game for UT, Mississippi State would be a mark of overachieving.
Taking notes on that, the BYU Cougars are the game to avoid a disastrous season. South Carolina is the bellwether of whether or not they reach their goals. Mississippi State, is the bellwether for overachieving. It’s just barely in the top half of this list.