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MSU Mailbag: Arkansas game, time travel, wing flavors, more bowl talk and more




There's going to be some good football and nonsense talk in this week's Mailbag, but I have to lead with two questions: one that triggers me and one that forces me to defend my honor. Let's start with the latter. 


- WCBI sportscaster and fellow co-host of my podcast, Straight Sippin', Courtney Robb (@courtkrobb) is coming at me: How dare you try and lure people with an adorable innocent kitten? 


So those of you that saw my tweet asking for Mailbag questions saw a GIF of a kitten in a mailbox. 


Let it be known: the kitten is not being used by the Mailbag, the kitten is an embodiment of the Mailbag. 


The kitten is kinda confused -- aren't we all? The kitten also loves to expend a lot of energy in short bursts and rest way too long to recover -- much like making dumb jokes about nonsense and taking an entire week to do it. 


Also the kitten enjoys food, and Lord knows the Mailbag does, too. 


- @MaroonDawg_ Have college football officials ever been found to have point shaved a football game? 


This is the question that has me triggered, but first, let me answer it. 


I did some Googling and couldn't find any. College sports has had plenty of point-shaving scandals in the past, almost all of them in men's basketball, but I couldn't find anything that involved officials - far from what the NBA had to deal with a decade ago. 


Now, I don't know this Twitter character personally. Maybe (s)he's just trolling, or maybe (s)he's part of the conspiracy crew regarding the officiating from the Alabama game. I have many objections to that theory, but here's the one that I like the most. 


Dude this is football in the South. Southerners gossip as if their lives depend on it. You don't think this wouldn't have gotten out at some point? Think about all the things you know about people that you shouldn't, because this is the South and people never shut up. We get our hands on super secret government information, guys; do you believe the gossiping capital of the world wouldn't get this in the public realm, especially on there subject of the one common thread its entire society shares in -- football? 


Come on, guys. Bias and incompetence are brothers. They may look the same, but they behave differently if you know what you're looking for. 


- Alright, that's enough of that. There's a lot of football in here, but I need a multi-part question to cleanse my pallet of that ridiculousness. @ReeceMonroe1226, save me -- 1) What's one sporting event that happened over a year ago that you could still cry about? 2) What kind of sauce do you put on wings? 3) One fantasy world you wished you lived in. 4) Who would win in a fight: Dwight Schrute or Ron Swanson? 


1) I wouldn't say I still cry about it, but let me tell you, watching the 2010 U.S. Men's National Team get knocked out of the World Cup was all kinds of hurtful. Let me paint y'all the picture: all of this is happening in the summer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. I'm working at the local Dairy Queen and, frankly, not doing much else: didn't have many friends in my hometown, by design. My June days were spent watching that team and the rest of that event before going to work. I still remember jumping around the living room when Landon Donovan fired that missile in the net against Algeria. Watching that Ghana match go south suuuuuucked. 


2) I've always been a BBQ guy, particularly honey BBQ, but I'll definitely mix it up. Teriyaki wings are good stuff, and so are the sweet Asian chili wings some places do, but those are more specific to the quality of sauce at the place you're getting them from. I also worked at a place in college that did honey mustard wings and I enjoyed those, too. 


3) Hogwarts. My answer will (probably) never change. How freaking cool would it be to roam that castle for seven years? Especially if you're considered a good student and you get access to all the areas the professors only grant if they like you? No doubt, it's Hogwarts. 


Also, how awesome would a football game be on a Quidditch pitch? 


4) This one's entirely dependent on the venue. If this is happening in Scranton, Pa., Dwight pulls that pepper spray he hit Roy with and knocks Ron Swanson down easy. If this is happening in Pawnee and Dwight doesn't have access to his pepper spray/ninja stars/nunchucks/all the other weapons he hides in the office, then Ron Swanson's brute force is too much for Dwight. 


- Alright, let's dive into the Arkansas game with two questions kind of going after the same thought. @CoreyOswalt asked: Although Arkansas' record is below .500, do you believe it will be one of our tougher challenges? Then Will Larsen (@wlarsen24) asked: Is there a letdown for Mississippi State or does MSU take out the anger from the Alabama game on them? 


Those of you that listen to Straight Sippin' know I started the most recent episode by trolling myself on my preseason Arkansas take -- by saying they might not finish last in the SEC West. That's how bad it's been for the Hogs. 


Yes, the offense has been a little better in recent weeks: this team scored 17 each on North Texas and Texas A&M and his since put 31 on Alabama and 17 on LSU. But this is an offense that's still 108th in the nation in efficiency and 74th in explosiveness, according to Bill Connelly's numbers. It is still one of the nation's worst third-down offenses -- and it's going against a defense that has been awesome for every possession except two, the first two against Alabama. 


On the other side, I scoffed at the hire of John Chavis for defensive coordinator and the Razorbacks have yet to do something to make me think about backtracking. 


This team has performed well in these spots before and I imagine it will do so again. That spread of somewhere in the 19-point range feels about right, and if forced to pick, I would probably pick a MSU cover. 


- Let's spin it forward a little with a trio of forward-facing football questions, Rapid Fire style. Cameron Crawford (@crawford_cam95) -- If they beat Arkansas and OM and win a bowl game, how successful do you think next season becomes for the program? 


That's always been the problem with this season -- it will tell us nothing about future success or future failures. 


This coaching staff gets the opportunity to install what it wants to do, yes, but the guys taking the most reps are about to be gone. The quarterback. Two offensive linemen. A wide receiver, a tight end and a running back. At least one defensive lineman, but maybe two if Jeffery Simmons does what he probably should and head off for the draft. Two safeties and a starting corner. 


Despite all the screaming about the coaching staff this season, it has little to no tangible bearing on future success, because the guys that did this are about to be gone. Such is life in college sports. 


- George (@gac8) -- Will State keep a D-Coordinator 2 years in a row? 


I don't see why not. Bob Shoop hasn't done fewer than two years at a school since 2006, when he used a good season as a positions coach to get a defensive coordinator job. Plus, the only reason he hasn't done at least three years in each of his last four coaching stops is because his Tennessee staff got fired after two seasons. 


Shoop was loyal to James Franklin for five years and only left to get back into the SEC -- and let's be real, things were not looking great for James Franklin after the 2015 season. I think he's good here. 


- The last of this trio comes from @Devil_Dawg_06 -- What bowl game do you see us going to? 


Unfortunately, not a ton has changed since I did this exercise a couple of weeks ago. Assuming Alabama goes to the Playoff at 13-0, Georgia or LSU goes to the Sugar Bowl as the next-highest ranked SEC team and the other one remains highly ranked enough to get into a NY6 bowl, that leaves Florida as the wild card. If Florida is also highly ranked enough to get an at-large bid into a NY6, that would be big for MSU and several other schools. 


Essentially the pool of teams to discuss here is MSU, Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Auburn and the bowls are the Citrus (listed first for a reason), Outback, TaxSlayer, Belk, Liberty, Texas and Music City Bowls. Citrus Bowl gets first pick, so if Florida gets into the NY6, then MSU could be Citrus Bowl bound, otherwise it's bound for one of those other six. If Florida doesn't get into the NY6 and goes to the Citrus, then MSU is in the mix for the same bowls, just one rung down on the ladder for obvious reasons. 


I'm going to guess either the Music City Bowl or the Outback Bowl, but as you can see, that's just throwing things at the dartboard at this point. 


- Here's a really good question from @10RobertWilliam -- If you're a fan of the big 4 college sports, would you rather be a fan of a school that wins national titles in one sport and is average/mediocre in the others or one that is good/really good in all 4 sports but doesn't win the natty? 


Personally, I would rather be awesome in all sports even if it never leads to a natty, but let me hit you with this: this is a product of environment more than personal preference. 


As a fan, let's be real: one of the best things about the championship is the bragging rights. If you live in New York, for instance, what does a Syracuse football national championship do for you? Who cares, most of those people are in basketball mode by Halloween anyway. Are you really willing to sacrifice being a contender in the sport people care about just to win it all in a sport no one cares about? 


Obviously the MSU fan base is a bad example for this, given its incredible support of the women's basketball team, but in most pockets of the South you could make the same argument for women's basketball. There are lot of places in the SEC where their fans would gain almost nothing from winning it all in women's basketball, therefore they'll take contending in football all day. I'd imagine in most of those scenarios it's not worth sacrificing if your national championship program is randomly assigned. 


Now, in a hypothetical where you get to pick the national championship program, I'd imagine you get more support. Alabama fans, for instance, would absolutely sacrifice success in the other three to keep going in football. I imagine Georgia would do the same. But take places like MSU, Ole Miss, LSU and Texas A&M (football/baseball), Tennessee and Missouri (football/basketball)...would those places truly be happy if one program was awesome and the other was terrible? Maybe I'm way off base here, but I'm think the euphoria of a football title is not enough to carry fan bases like those through another season they really, really care about -- mostly because college football's offseason is so freaking long. 


- Let's end this with a couple of Mailbag OGs. @dalemo830 -- Does Moorhead stick to his gameplan for the last two weeks or does he try #AlwaysRunNeverPass given the defenses (or lack thereof) he's facing? 


[pushes glasses up nose] 


Well Joe Moorhead's never going to be the #AlwaysRunNeverPass guy-- 


[checks notes from Auburn game] 




But really, Moorhead truly believes his offense runs best when it does both, and there's no doubt it does, but I think every playcaller gets that rush of adrenaline when they're bashing people's heads in and they want to continue bashing people's heads in. 


Put it this way: MSU is averaging 35.8 runs per game against conference opponents. I won't be surprised if that number goes up a little after these games. 


- And a multi-parter from Oliver McLeod (@dak4knight) -- 1) Which music acts (dead or alive) would you pick for a one-time-only concert together? 2) If you could time travel to any past sporting event, what would it be? 3) What kind of pie do you want to see on the table for Thanksgiving? 4) Who was your favorite athlete growing up? 5) The Simpsons or Family Guy? 6) Is the next LeBron already in the NBA? If there even is a next LeBron. 


1) A Tribe Called Quest, for sure. RIP Phife. ATCQ collaborating with Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole on a concert sounds amazing. Jimi Hendrix absolutely has to be on this list, too. The question is what band do you pair him with for a show? I look forward to y'alls suggestions. 


2) I'd wanna see The U in the 80s. (I was born in '92.) If I'm going a little further back than that, I'd like to see prime Pistol Pete or prime Larry Bird/Magic Johnson/Dr. J, that era of hoops. 


3) Chocolate, and don't @ me about it. I know everybody loves pumpkin pie and apple pie and all that stuff, good for you, but my grandmother made an incredible chocolate pie that's since been passed down to my aunt. There's a legit battle of wits among three of us at Thanksgiving to get that stuff. (Now it's two, since I'm at the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving.) 


4) Ken Griffey Jr. That's absolutely the guy I modeled my batting stance after. The wiggle and all. (Go ahead, imagine chubby 9-year-old Brett imitating that amount of swag and rhythm. I'm sure it was hysterical to watch.) 


5) Family Guy. I got nothing against The Simpsons, I respect its stature in my beloved genre of TV comedy, but the characters in Family Guy or so dynamic. I feel like Family Guy has taken a lot of the things that The Simpsons changed the game with and done them with new layers on top of or around them. 


6) There has never been, is not and will never be another LeBron. How's that for a take? 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson



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