Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Mississippi State Bulldogs

The SEC had a down year compared to other years, as Alabama was the lone team to win 10 games or more in 2016. That is an unusual turn of events for the self proclaimed best conference in college football. The East was still down, as Florida and Tennessee continued to struggle despite having high expectations. Georgia is still trying to find themselves under Kirby Smart. LSU made a mess of the Les Miles situation. Ole Miss was clouded over by off-field issues. Here is a look back at the 2016 SEC season, on a team by team basis.

Mississippi State Bulldogs
6-7 (3-5)

2016 Schedule
Lost to South Alabama 21-20
Beat South Carolina 27-14
Lost to LSU 23-20
Beat U Mass 47-35
Lost to Auburn 38-14
Lost to BYU 28-21
Lost to Kentucky 40-38
Beat Samford 56-41
Beat Texas A&M 35-28
Lost to Alabama 51-3
Lost to Arkansas 58-42
Beat Ole Miss 56-20
Beat Miami (Ohio) 17-16 (St. Petersburg Bowl)

MVP Offense: QB Nick Fitzgerald, WR Fred Ross
Nick Fitzgerald was one of the most effective dual threat QBs in the nation in 2016. While never a great passer, he did manage to pass for 2423 yards and 21 scores, against 10 INTs. He averaged 27.8 passing attempts per game, but only completed 54.3% of his passes. He was also the leading rusher for the Bulldogs, and was one of the better runners in the nation overall, as he rushed for 1375 yards and scored 16 more TDs on the ground, while averaging 7.05 yards per carry, and 105.77 yards per game. He carried 15 times per game.
Ross was a beast in the passing game, as he led the team with 917 yards and 12 scores on 72 receptions. He averaged 12.74 yards per receptions per game, and 70.5 yards per game.
MVP Defense: DE Jonathon Calvin
Calvin finished with 55 tackles on the season, and loaded up 11.5 TFLs. He finished with seven sacks, and posted 5 QB hurries on a defense that allowed 31.8 points per game. For a defense that played poorly all season, he was a bright spot.
Others of Note
Aeris Williams rushed for 720 yards on the season.
Ross had 31 receptions more than any other Bulldog receiver.
Richie Brown led the team with 102 tackles.
AJ Jefferson finished with 10.5 TFLs.
Mississippi State allowed just 18 sacks.
MSU QBs had 55 passes deflected.
The Bulldogs converted on over 40% of their 3rd down conversions.
Best Win: Texas A&M 35-28, Ole Miss 56-20
The Bulldogs were all over the place in 2016, but landed a high quality win over Texas A&M before the gave away 109 points in the following two weeks. The Bulldogs broke a two game losing streak to wrap with a massive win over arch rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, and that allowed the Rebels to receive a waiver with five wins to head on to the bowl season, where they beat Miami (Ohio) in a tough grind out game.
Worst Loss: South Alabama 21-20
Nobody saw this loss coming, and it is never acceptable for an SEC team to lose to someone from the Sun Belt. This loss put a stamp on the Bulldog season, and it went down from here. The Jaguars frustrated the Bulldogs all day long, and the Bulldogs were stunned.
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 Charleston Southern, 9/9 at Louisiana Tech, 10/14 BYU, 11/4 U Mass
The Bulldogs need a bounce back season i 2017. They will handle Charleston Southern and U Mass, but Louisiana Tech and BYU will push the Bulldogs to the brink. Worst case scenario here is 2-2.

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