August 2, 2012 11:33:10 AM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State University football is not ranked in the 2012 preseason USA Today coaches' poll.
The Bulldogs, which finished 7-6 last season with a season-ending victory over Wake Forest University in the 2011 Music City Bowl in Nashville, received 21 voting points and places them 33rd in the national standings. The coaches' poll is part of the BCS formula used to determine its national champion.
Seven Southeastern Conference teams (LSU 1, Alabama 2, Georgia 6, South Carolina 9, Arkansas 10, Florida 23 and Auburn 25) were a part of the preseason poll, which was the most of any league.
This preseason poll will put added emphasis in MSU's contest in the second week of the season when No. 25 Auburn comes to Davis Wade Stadium for a SEC matchup (11 a.m., ESPN).
"One thing is that first conference game is critical," MSU coach Dan Mullen said at SEC Media Days in July. "That first conference game really sets the tone, no matter who it is you're playing. You're looking at a two‑game swing with that team. We win that game (and) we're two games ahead because we're one game in the rankings and the tiebreaker. You're two games ahead of Auburn, or two games behind Auburn week two of the season."
Louisiana State secured the top spot in the coaches' poll but only received 18 of 59 possible first place votes. The defending champion University of Alabama received the most first place votes with 20 but ended up second in the preseason poll. USA Today says this is first time that has happened since they took over poll in 1991. University of Southern California, who ended last year unranked but returns one of the nation's elite quarterbacks in Matt Barkley and just secured Penn State tailback transfer Silas Red, received 19 first-place votes and placed third in the poll. The University of Oklahoma and defending Pac 12 Conference champion Oregon round out the top five in the poll.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
3. Hauntings and Humans BOOK REVIEWS