Time once again for your Thursday, College football look back and look forward. New to the JFP print edition is a look back at last week’s action, so this week will be more of a detailed look forward.
There are several prospects for our weekly big winner. Mississippi State is 4-0 for the first time since 1999, Ole Miss is 3-1 and beating teams they should beat on their schedule, and Millsaps is a perfect 3-0 coming off a bye week.
But there is one team that was a big winner as a program and on the field. Belhaven got its first win over Campbellsville 70-28 last Saturday. The Blazers are this week’s big winner and leaves Southern Miss as the only team from the JFP College Football preview without a win this season.
Now on to our weekly look forward.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs are 4-0 and on a bye this week before hitting the road to take on Kentucky to start October. Mississippi State hasn’t looked super sharp against lesser teams Troy and South Alabama but stayed undefeated.
MSU faces Kentucky on the road, Tennessee at home and Middle Tennessee at home over the next three weeks. The Bulldogs must be shaper on offense and defense to avoid an upset against Kentucky (Wildcats are bad but they play hard for 40 minutes).
Tennessee is not a pushover and could hand MSU its first loss of the season if they do not work out the kinks on offense over the next two weeks. Mississippi State should defeat Middle Tennessee but every SEC should beware the Sun Belt.
After those three games, the MSU schedule gets much harder with Alabama (road), Texas A&M (home), and LSU (road) over the next three games. The Bulldogs finish at home against Arkansas (who knows how much pride they will have left) and in-state rival Ole Miss.
There is no shame if the Bulldogs lose to the Crimson Tide or the Tigers. Every game left on the schedule but Alabama and LSU are winnable.
MSU is off this week
Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss is done with non-conference games for the rest of the season and from here out will be facing SEC competition. The Rebels jump right into SEC play against top ranked Alabama on the road.
The toughest game so far for Ole Miss has been against Texas and the Rebels lost 66-31. Alabama is much better than the Longhorns and this game could be over by halftime.
I try to “never say never” but it would take a super effort by Ole Miss and a really sloppy game by the Crimson Tide for this game to be close headed to the fourth quarter. The Rebels just aren’t ready to compete with the top SEC teams yet.
Things won’t get any easier for Ole Miss after playing Alabama. The Rebels face Texas A&M (home), Auburn (home), Arkansas (road), Georgia (road), Vanderbilt (home) and LSU (road) before hosting MSU to finish the season.
While this weekend will be a loss, don’t discount the Rebels playing the Aggies, Tigers (Auburn), Razorbacks, and Commodores close. Ole Miss could even win those games if they can stay healthy and play sound football.
Alabama 42 Ole Miss 14
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
This is not how Southern Miss wanted to start their celebration of 100 years of football at 0-3. Even worse things do not get much better for the Golden Eagles over the next three weeks.
USM faces Louisville this Saturday at home followed by Boise State (home) and Central Florida (road) to end September and start October. That is a tough stretch of games for a team that is winless on the season.
Louisville is the popular pick to represent the Big East in a BCS bowl this year. The Cardinals are 4-0 but had to escape North Carolina and Florida International in their last two games.
Southern Miss is going to have to play much better on defense to have any chance of pull off an upset. The Golden Eagles need to figure out a way to move the ball on offense without Chris Campbell or Anthony Alford (both injured).
That leaves redshirt-freshman Ricky Lloyd to make his first collegiate start this Saturday. USM is already in a deep hole in their bid to extend their consecutive winning season streak to 19 seasons.
Louisville is beatable but with a third string quarterback, the upset bid will fall to the Golden Eagle defense to make it happen. As badly as that group has played this season it makes a win even more improbable.
To win the Golden Eagles must play lights out on defense and run the ball effectively to shorten the game. USM needs the “Nasty Bunch” defense to return if they are going to turn around this season.
Louisville 31 USM 17
Jackson State Tigers
For the second week in a row, Jackson State is hosting a winless team. Last week, the Tigers dropped their home opener to winless Southern after spotting the Jaguars a 28-0 lead.
JSU fell 28-21 after their rally fell short and now the Tigers host winless Prairie View A&M this weekend. Jackson State at 1-1 in SWAC play needs to win this game to keep pace with Alabama A&M and Alabama State.
The Panthers are playing their fourth straight road game and coming off a 66-7 defeat to North Dakota State. Prairie View is 0-2 in SWAC play.
JSU 31 PVA&M 21
Alcorn State Braves
After defeating Grambling State to start the season, Alcorn State is on a three game losing streak. The Braves faced FBS Arkansas State last week and were spanked 56-0.
ASU looks to get on the winning side of things this week at home against Alabama State. The Hornets are 2-2 on the season and 2-1 in SWAC play.
Alabama State is coming off a 24-21 loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Alcorn State can win this game if they aren’t too badly beat up from their last outing.
Alcorn State 28 Alabama State 14
Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils
Mississippi Valley couldn’t start a winning streak last week against Northwestern State after beating Southern University a week earlier. The Delta Devils face an uphill climb at home this week against Alabama A&M.
The Bulldogs might be the best team in the SWAC at 4-0 overall and 3-0 in SWAC play. Alabama A&M crushed Texas Southern last Saturday 42-13.
Alabama A&M 35 MVSU 17
Delta State Statesmen
Delta State started conference play last week with 20-13 loss to North Alabama. The loss dropped the Statesmen to 1-2 on the season.
The Fighting Okra can move the ball up and down the field but can't move it when it counts most, in the red zone. Delta State needs to finish off drives for scores to get back to winning.
This week, the Statesmen host Abilene Christian at home. The Wildcats lost 28-23 last week to Angelo State University.
A win would get DSU back to .500 football and hopefully turn around this up and down season.
DSU 23 Abilene 21
Mississippi College Choctaws
After an off week, the Choctaws get back to work against Hardin-Simmons. Mississippi College announced this week it is looking to move up to Division II after leaving 16 years ago.
The Cowboys got a the week off last week as well. Hardin-Simmons defeated Texas College 57-21 before the bye for their first win of the season.
Mississippi College begins American Southwest play with this game.
MC 17 Hardin-Simmons 10
The Majors had last week off and face Centre this week. Millsaps is playing its third straight road game.
This should be a winnable game for Millsaps who haven't been challenged since winning a close game against Mississippi College to open the season. The Majors can beat anyone on their schedule.
Millsaps 31 Centre 21
Last week was win one for the Blazers. This week, Belhaven faces Virginia College at Wise.
Virginia College is 1-4 on the season. I believe the Blazers can get their second win of the season.
Belhaven 35 Virginia College 14
Hinds community College
Hinds CC has dropped back to back games after falling to Co-Lin last week. The Eagles look to get back to winning against East Central. This game has become must win for HCC.
HCC 27 East Central 21
Holmes Community College
Holmes is on a two game winning streak after dropping Itawamba Community College 14-12 last week. The Bulldogs look to make it three wins in a row against Mississippi Delta Community College.
Holmes 21 Mississippi Delta 10
Last week (5-6) Season total (26-15)