4. The Really Big Thing Was …
The two teams that played each other in last year’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – one of the College Football Playoff semifinals – both lost at home and might be knocked out of the national title hunt before the season really gets going.
It’s not a deathblow for LSU and Oklahoma to have lost right away to Mississippi State and Kansas State, respectively. Win out, take the conference championships, and get into the CFP – most likely – but there’s no margin for error now going forward.
The Kansas State 38-35 win over Oklahoma was thrilling, and it took a massive comeback and upset to get it done, but it happened last year, too. The Sooners lost at K-State, won everything else, and they got to the College Football Playoff. They also weren’t/aren’t in the SEC.
LSU still has to go to Florida. It still has to go to Auburn and Texas A&M, and it still has to host Alabama. It’s possible to lose one game in the SEC and go on to win it all, but lose two and that’s about it.
And it all happened because of a Mississippi State offense that ran for nine yards, but threw for 632 in the first game of the Mike Leach era.
LSU wasn’t LSU, but that’s no excuse. It was breaking in what amounted to a whole new team, and it was without the best defensive back in the nation with Derek Stingley Jr. out with a non-covid illness. It still had enough talent to beat the Bulldogs, and didn’t.
Is Mississippi State a real, live factor to win the SEC championship? Probably not – you have as many head coaching appearances in major conference title games as Leach – but now the Bulldogs are a national must-watch every time out.
Some SEC defenses really will figure this out, and other teams will bomb away with an offense that can hang punch-for-punch, but this isn’t the last time someone will buckle against KJ Costello and this attack.
Mississippi State announced its arrival. It was good before, especially with Dak Prescott running Dan Mullen’s offense – fun-fact, MSU was the first ever No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff rankings – but this is different. This is a team that can beat an Alabama on the right day, or ruin Auburn’s season, or take out Texas A&M because of a differentiating factor of an attack.
It sure worked on the defending national champions who were looking to prove it could keep the party going.