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Playing in the brutal SEC West just isn't going too well for the Bulldogs. They win the games they're supposed to, against the likes of Troy and Kentucky, but can't upset anybody. Mississippi State went 6-0 SU last year in games it was favored, and 1-6 SU in games it was the underdog.

The Bulldogs are also a combined 1-16 SU under head coach Dan Mullen against Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M. And you're not going to finish in the top half of the SEC West if you can't beat those guys a few times.

Mississippi State Odds to Win SEC: 40/1 at Bovada
Mississippi State Odds to Win College Football Championship: 150/1 at Bovada
Mississippi State Regular Season Win Total: 7.5 at Bovada
Mississippi State Betting Props: Dak Prescott to Win Heisman 50/1 at Bovada

Mississippi State began last season 2-3, with losses to Oklahoma State, Auburn and LSU. The Bulldogs later lost to South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama, but fortunately had scheduled games against Alcorn State, Troy and Bowling Green, and managed to squeeze by Kentucky, Arkansas and Ole Miss. MSU then came up with perhaps its best performance of the season, cooking Rice in the Liberty Bowl to finish 7-6, its fourth straight winning record.

The 'Dogs are now 36-28 SU, 34-30 ATS in five seasons under Mullen.

This year the Bulldogs get back 16 starters, most in the SEC. Eight starters are back on offense, including junior QB Dak Prescott, last year's top three receivers and three along the offensive line, and eight starters return on defense, three on the line, two linebackers and three in the secondary.

MSU averaged 28 points per game last year, while allowing 23 PPG; both those figures could improve this year.

The Bulldogs begin this season with three winnable games, then visit LSU. They later play at Alabama and Ole Miss, while getting Texas A&M and Auburn at home. And they miss probably the five best teams out of the East, including Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.

Mississippi State is going to win at least six games this season; how it fares against LSU, A&M, Auburn and Alabama will determine its ultimate fate.

SEC Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 5

Alabama 7/5
Auburn 5/1
South Carolina 5/1
Georgia 6/1
LSU 13/2
Florida 12/1
Ole Miss 14/1
Texas A&M 25/1
Mississippi State 40/1
Missouri 40/1
Tennessee 50/1
Arkansas 100/1
Kentucky 200/1
Vanderbilt 200/1

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Three straight winning seasons and bowl appearances sounds good, but for the Mississippi State Bulldogs it's not enough. It's no fun just beating the weak sisters on your schedule, and never knocking off the big dogs. MSU played that recent trend to a T last year, turning a 7-0 start into an 8-5 finish. The Bulldogs' goal has to be taking that next step and beating some of the better teams on their slate; whether that will happen this year is uncertain.

Odds to Win SEC: +10000 at 5Dimes
Regular Season Win Total: 5.5 at 5Dimes

MSU's problem last year is that while they won eight games they didn't beat anyone of note. The Bulldogs started 7-0, reaching No. 13 in the polls, but as the schedule got tougher the Bulldogs got exposed as pretenders. They lost to Alabama by 31, to Texas A&M by 25, to LSU by 20, to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl by 17, and then lost in the Gator Bowl to Northwestern 34-20.

In the end the 'Dogs went 8-0 against teams that did not make bowls last year, and 0-5 against teams that did. They also went just 6-7 ATS last year, which was a bit surprising considering their +16 turnover ratio. What a waste. This year MSU returns seven starters on an offense that averaged 382 YPG last year, including senior QB Tyler Russell (24/10 TD/INT ratio last year), 1,000-yard rusher LaDarius Perkins, and four along the front line, but only five starters are back on a defense that gave up 387 YPG last season. Among the holes to fill are basically the entire receiving corps and three-quarters of what was a decent secondary.

This year's schedule does the 'Dogs few favors; they open with a tough game against early Big 12 favorite Oklahoma State in Houston, later have to play at South Carolina and at Texas A&M, and their home slate includes visits from LSU and Alabama. On the bright side MSU misses Georgia and Florida again. From afar, the Bulldogs might only have five or six “winnable” games on their slate, and that might not be enough to get back to a bowl.

SEC Championship Odds at 5Dimes as of July 29

Alabama +140
Georgia +400
South Carolina +500
Texas A&M +850
Florida +950
LSU +1250
Mississippi +2700
Vanderbilt +4500
Tennessee +6000
Missouri +6000
Mississippi State +10000
Arkansas +10500
Auburn +12500
Kentucky +20000