Joe Moorhead’s Mississippi State Bulldogs clock in at number 21 in the Franchise Top 25 Countdown.
In Moorhead’s first year in Starkville, he led his Bulldogs to an 8-5 season headlined with upset victories over Auburn and Texas A&M.
Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald moves on after two years as a starter. Moorhead looks to potentially replace him with Tommy Stevens, a graduate transfer who worked under Moorhead previously at Penn State.
Though replacing Fitzgerald under center, the Bulldogs return established playmakers across the field on offense.
Running back Kylin Hill returns after leading his position group in carries and rushing yards last season. Hill will look to build on his 734 yards and 6.3 yards-per-carry average after splitting time in the backfield.
Mississippi State also returns their top three pass catchers from last season to aide Stevens’ transition to the starting position, though Osirus Mitchell led the way last season with just 26 receptions.
The offensive line returns experience as well, as three starters return this season, as well as a fourth lineman who featured regularly in the rotation last season.
The Bulldog defense was ferocious last season, allowing just 12 touchdowns in the regular season.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs take the 21 spot in the Franchise Top 25 Countdown. https://t.co/Ju0pK5ihdS
— The Franchise Sports (@FranchiseOK) July 26, 2019
This year, expect a decline, as the entire front line moved on in the offseason.
Though the entire front is gone, every starter from the linebacking core returns to provide leadership for the Bulldog defense. Erroll Thompson will be expected to lead this group at the heart of the defense. Thompson returns after recording 87 tackles with 9 tackles for loss last season.
The secondary will also have to replace key players, most notably first round safety Johnathan Abram. Mississippi State’s secondary will not be young, with a returning corner and key rotational players being thrust into starting positions.
Mississippi State’s schedule is as ugly as you would expect from a member of the SEC West. Notably, the Bulldogs will host Alabama and LSU, and will have to travel to Auburn and Texas A&M, before finishing the season hosting rivals Mississippi at home.
Catch up on the rest of the Franchise Top 25: