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  • The Clarion Ledger

    Will Mississippi State football make a 2024 bowl? Four games hold answer for Jeff Lebby

    By Stefan Krajisnik, Mississippi Clarion Ledger,


    STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football walked off the field at Davis Wade Stadium in disappointment on Nov. 23. After a 17-7 loss against rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl , MSU’s season ended with the conclusion of the regular season.

    It marked the first year without a trip to a bowl game for the Bulldogs since 2009 – coach Dan Mullen’s first season at the helm.

    While a five-win 2023 campaign was telling of a underwhelming year under coach Zach Arnett , Mississippi State was still on the verge of keeping its bowl streak alive. One game could have been the difference between watching bowl season from home as opposed to taking part in it.

    A 37-30 defeat at South Carolina on Sept. 30 was likely the one that carried the biggest, “What if?”

    If Mississippi State had taken advantage of a game in which quarterback Will Rogers threw for 487 yards, the Bulldogs likely would have made a bowl game. It showed how small the margin can be between a five-win season and a six-win campaign.

    As the Bulldogs prepare for the 2024 season, here’s a look at which games could be the difference between making a bowl game or not in coach Jeff Lebby’s first year at the helm.

    Mississippi State football schedule 2024: Expected results

    Before getting into the toss-up games, here are the expected results for Mississippi State.

    The Bulldogs should handle Eastern Kentucky, Toledo and UMass. If MSU loses any of those three games, it’s likely not reaching six wins.

    Mississippi State will likely lose at Texas, at Tennessee, at Georgia and home against Missouri. The Egg Bowl, albeit an exciting rivalry, falls into this category with the game in Oxford and with Ole Miss projected as a top-10 team. If MSU wins any of those five games against ranked SEC foes, it could finish with more than six victories.

    Sept. 7 at Arizona State

    Arizona State is expected to be in the bottom tier of power conference teams this season. As the Sun Devils transition to the Big 12, ESPN’s FPI has them projected to win fewer than five games. After winning three games last year, it’s clear why expectations are low.

    However, it could be a tricky Week 2 matchup for Mississippi State on the road. It’s the first major test for MSU under a new coaching staff. Combined with a 9:30 p.m. kickoff, it could be a wacky game.

    Sept. 21 vs Florida

    Coach Billy Napier’s tenure at Florida isn’t going as planned. The Gators are projected on the fringe of six wins after combining to win 11 games in Napier’s first two seasons.

    UF comes to Starkville for Lebby’s first home SEC game. If Mississippi State handles business in the nonconference slate, the Bulldogs will be 3-0, which would add fuel to Davis Wade Stadium.

    Oct. 19 vs Texas A&M

    Like MSU, Texas A&M is entering its first season under a new coach. Mike Elko is at the helm, and the Aggies are projected to win close to eight games.

    However, Mississippi State has been a thorn for A&M. The programs have split 12 games since A&M joined the SEC in 2012.

    HISTORY: Why expectations for Mississippi State football coach Jeff Lebby's first season should be modest

    Oct. 26 vs Arkansas

    Like Florida, Arkansas could undergo a coaching change if 2024 is disappointing. Mississippi State and Arkansas will both be projected in the bottom half of the SEC.

    With both teams owning a difficult November slate, the meeting in Starkville could be crucial.

    Stefan Krajisnik is the Mississippi State beat writer for the Clarion Ledger. Contact him at or follow him on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, @skrajisnik3 .

    This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Will Mississippi State football make a 2024 bowl? Four games hold answer for Jeff Lebby

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