While most Tiger fans believe that the game against Mississippi State is going to be like taking candy from a baby, that might not be the case if you take a look at the way MSU finished the 2006 season. The last five games of last season MSU lost 27-24 at Georgia, lost 34-31 to Kentucky, defeated Alabama 24-16 at Alabama (in my opinion the lost to MSU is what cost Mike Shula his job at Alabama), lost to Arkansas 28-14, and lost at Ole Miss 20-17.(emphasis in original). Dandy is correct about those scores. After a terrible start to the season last year, they definitely improved. They just didn't turn many of those close games into win. It's also true that they return 9 starters on offense, though only 5 on defense.
Their problem here is that despite their poor defensive statistics, they really had a pretty decent defense last year. Defense doesn't exist in a vacuum. If the offense gives the opponent short fields or keeps the defense on the field most of the game, the defense is going to give up yards and points no matter how good it is. That happened to Mississippi State last year. Their offense put their defense on the field a lot, often in bad positions, and the defensive statistics suffered for it, but their defense was pretty solid.
And now most of that defense is gone. They haven't exactly recruited lights-out on defense to be able to easily replace players like Culberson and and DT Antonio Johnson, the only MSU player drafted last year, along with 4 other defensive starters. Simply put, the strength of last year's team is gone and cannot be replaced. They'll have to find a new strength. If it's going to be the offense that put the defense in such bad spots, I like our chances.
I don't want to make it look like we can go out there and play our second team, let the coach's kids call the plays, and let our players play one-handed and still win. MSU is an SEC team with good players and good coaching. They also have pride, and will be giving it 100% effort. They just don't have the horses LSU has.
If we're as good as we think, we should beat them easily. If they hang with us after halftime, we're not as good as we think.