Mississippi State Focuses On West Title

Jul 16, 2014 9:15 AM EST

Mississippi State and Dan Mullen made their way to SEC Media Days Tuesday in Hoover, Ala.  

For Mullen, the 2014 season has a make-or-break feel to it.

Mullen has had great success as an offensive coordinator in the conference and has been a steady leader in maintaining Mississippi State as an annual bowl team, but Urban Meyer's former right-hand man has struggled in beating the top-tier teams in the conference during his Starkville tenure.  

Mullen has posted a 36-28 record in five seasons in Starkville, making a bowl every season except for his first year in 2009. Mullen would not be facing pressure in 2014 if it was not for his 2-21 record versus ranked opponents.  

Mullen can change that — and change it early on in the season.  

Mississippi State travels to Baton Rouge to face LSU in a game the Bulldogs can win, which would certainly take the Bulldogs' program to the next level.  

Quarterback Dak Prescott can be the catalyst to ignite Mississippi State into a SEC Western Division championship contender, and Mullen knows it.   

"He (Dak) will be a much better passer this season," Mullen said at SEC Media Days. "Dak has really worked on it. He is a guy who understands the skills required for the quarterback position. We want to see where Dak's comfort level is in certain situations very early on in the season."  

If Mississippi State can pull off a win Sept. 20 at LSU, this season could turn into a special season for the Bulldogs.

"Our expectations are to get to Atlanta (for the SEC Championship Game)," Mullen said. "There are seven coaches in the SEC West that expect to go to Atlanta. It does show the depth and it's a wide open path."   

Having Prescott behind center is a plus for the Bulldogs. Mullen also has the luxury of having an abundance of experience coming back.

"We have 30 guys who started last year and are returning this season," Mullen said.  

2014 Projected Mississippi State Schedule Breakdown  

Wins: Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, UT-Martin, Vanderbilt  

Losses: Auburn, Alabama  

Toss-ups: LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss