Over the next several weeks here on the HailState Beat, we’ll be running a new football-related series each week, a series of series, if you will. We continue today with The Record Book: highlighting the records to watch this fall as old Dawgs climb up the all-time lists while others will have chances for single-season greatness.
Today in The Record Book: Streaks
Mississippi State may not have a quad to run through, but Dan Mullen’s football team could be doing plenty of streaking in 2012. The appropriate kind, of course.
We’ll start with the big fish and what could be the most exciting two months for MSU football in over a decade. I won’t be the one to predict it – though it is very possible – but there are plenty in the ethers of the internets who are channeling their inner psychic Mrs. Lamar and calling for a 7-0 start to this season for the Bulldogs.
MSU’s first seven opponents, in order, are Jackson State, Auburn, Troy, South Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Middle Tennessee State. Are they all guaranteed Ws? Of course not, but it’s not entirely unlikely State could be favored in all or at least most of those matchups.
So, IF Mullen can pull off that superb start to the season, he will have made history when coupled with victories over Ole Miss and Wake Forest to end the 2011 campaign.
You see, that would be nine consecutive wins, a record for the modern era and the third-best streak in MSU history, surpassing the historic 8-0 start to the 1999 season.
Here are the records currently, with number, dates and how it ended
1. 13 10/17/42 – 11/11/44 at Alabama (L, 0-19, 11/18/44)
2. 10 10/19/40 – 10/4/41 at LSU (T, 0-0, 10/11/41)
3. 8 9/4/1999 – 11/4/99 at Alabama (L, 7-19, 11/13/99)
8 11/28/18 – 11/8/19 Auburn [@ B’ham] (L, 0-7, 11/15/19)
5. 7 10/12/46 – 11/23/46 at Alabama (L, 7-24, 11/30/46)
It may be fitting that three of the best streaks in MSU history were ended by playing Alabama. As you likely know, the Bulldogs’ eighth game this year is against, you guessed it, Alabama. If MSU can get that win, it will mean much more than just extending a streak.
We’ve also got a couple record streaks to watch with quarterback Tyler Russell. There is plenty to consider with the junior signal caller, as MSU’s offense over the decades has been so run-oriented.
Just as the team could set some records the first seven games, Russell could do the same. If he throws but one touchdown in each of those games, he will have the longest single-season streak of such throws in MSU’s history.
Don Smith (1985), Derrick Taite (1995) and Kevin Fant (2003) each threw touchdowns in six straight games. Fant also had a streak of seven from 2002-03, which, again, Russell could potentially beat, but it will take some success against the Crimson Tide to do it.
More for Russell: he could also have the opportunity to have the longest streak of completed passes, but this is one that’s a bit tougher to predict. Dave Marler has the longest streak on this particular passing stat, completing 11 straight passes against Tennessee in 1978, and 17 straight over two games against UT and Florida State.
Could Russell break that record? Well, he’ll definitely be throwing enough passes for it to happen. But then, the more passes you throw, the more likely it is you throw an incomplete pass, not to mention the potential for a receiver dropping a catchable pass.
The final one may be the least likely, as the Bulldogs are going to spread the ball around to several targets. But if enough touchdown passes are thrown, someone might be able to break Justin Jenkins’ 2003 record of five straight games with a touchdown catch. Judging by spring practices, MSU will be doing plenty of throwing in the red zone, and tight end Malcolm Johnson and receiver Joe Morrow were the top targets. Certainly, it’s possible one of those two, or even another, could go on a run in 2012.
Mullen enters this season with what is probably the most talented team he’s had at MSU, and the record books may prove that by the end of the year.