1) What's the feel around Starkville right now? This has been a historic season so far for MSU, so I imagine everyone must be riding pretty high.
Everyone is absolutely ecstatic about the team and what they are doing right now. Through five games, this has been the best season for the Bulldogs given the ranking and the teams defeated by Mississippi State. That said, there is a sense of realism that in the SEC West, it could all be taken away quickly, as it can happen to any team in this division in a given season. Right now, everyone is just enjoying the ride, and it will be fun to see where it ends.
2) Gameday is coming to your citaaaaay for the first time. Excited? Will you be going? Where will they likely set up?
How can any fan not be excited about having GameDay coming to Starkville? The stars have never aligned to make it happen, so this is a big deal for Bulldog fans. I am hoping to get up there for the festivities in the Junction, where the crew will most likely set up shop. My four-year old is wanting to go to the game after attending the win over the Aggies, so if he travels with me, I am not sure how much I can get to the GameDay activities. However, I am absolutely loving having my son experience this season with me as it is probably the first he will really remember, and that is a pretty cool experience to share with him.
3) Not to ruin that feeling, but is there any worry that UF may come calling for Dan Mullen after this season if (read: when) Muschamp is fired?
Honestly, I would rather have a coach that people want for their vacant positions than one that no one wants. To have people wanting your coach means you are being successful. If the time comes at the end of the season for Dan Mullen to leave Starkville, he will leave having turned the program around. In this hypothetical situation, Mississippi State would be in its best position ever to hire a coach.
All that said, I am not sold on the fact that Mullen would not stick around in Starkville. If the corner turns for this program, why would he want to walk away from what he has built. Many of the game's greatest coaches made programs from nearly nothing, stayed there, and turned them into consistent winners. You look at a guy like Bobby Bowden, and perhaps Mullen has a chance to be that guy one day.
If he leaves for a "higher" job and more money, so be it. However, being a head coach in the SEC West is a pretty big deal, and he has done a great bit to make Mississippi State an attractive position.
4) What has been the biggest surprise for you regarding this year's team?
I've really enjoyed the development of the wide receivers and offensive line. Coming into the season, Bulldog fans knew they had Jameon Lewis, but they were looking for the other receiver to develop. Bear Wilson has jumped into that role, but this group is very deep.
Folks also had serious concerns about the offensive line after losing Gabe Jackson, but the group has managed to rip holes through the opposing defenses for the Bulldog running backs.
5) The front 7 of MSU is one of the best in college football. The secondary has been given up some yardage, though. What does MSU need to do to fix that against Sammie Coates, Duke Williams, Nick Marshall & Co?
I think the Bulldogs will want to do some of the same things they did against Texas A&M. They won't stop every completion, but when they happen, hit the receiver hard and get them on the ground. Mississippi State did that against A&M and that led to drops. Additionally, the defensive backs have to play through the catch and make them that much more difficult to complete. Finally, the front seven will have to pressure Nick Marshall in the passing game, and they need to slow down the Auburn running attack and force the Tigers into more predictable downs and distances.
6) Auburn has been fairly decent defending the run and defending mobile quarterbacks this season. Does that give you any pause or do you think Dak Prescott is more than up to the challenge?
Dak Prescott is a special player, and special players find ways to make things happen against any opponent. That said, I think this Auburn defense had been vastly underrated this season, and they will make the Mississippi State offense earn yards and points. At the end of the day, Prescott is too good to stop. The question will be how much can he prevent the Tigers from limiting him.
7) What do you see as the X-Factor that this game will hinge upon?
One of these two teams are going to make a mistake somewhere in this game: an ill-thrown pass, a muffed punt, a shanked kick, something. I'm not sure what it will be, but there will be some sort of turnover that when all is said and done will be the difference maker in this game.