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Sunday Talk with Dan Mullen: MSU coach on Bulldogs' soft schedule - 'We've been tested'




Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - Dan Mullen doesn't want to listen to the idea Mississippi State University has not been properly prepared for its high-profile matchup against the number one ranked team in the country.  


"We've been tested a bunch," Mullen said in his weekly teleconference with local reporters Sunday. "We've had some pretty close games during this season." 


No. 13 MSU (7-0, 3-0 in Southeastern Conference) has been through close games including surviving an upset attempt at Troy University and been behind in two of the three conference games this season. However, the counter argument to Mullen's statement that MSU has faced enough adversity to be prepared for the defending national champions in their home stadium is the Bulldogs haven't faced a ranked team in either poll yet this season and their three SEC wins have come against programs winless in the league so far.  


I'll have a detailed notebook leading with this item in Monday's edition of the Dispatch.  


"Alabama will be the best team we've played so far but I guess anybody that plays them will say that about them since they're the best team in the country," Mullen concluded. "Our kids have been through some different tests, they've faced the adversity of success, they've faced the adversity on the field of being put in some rough situations and we had to step up and make some plays. Our guys have been through a lot and we have some good leadership on this team. I feel like they'll be ready for the environment we're going to head into on Saturday night." 


the battle between the MSU and Alabama programs will be one between two Top 15 programs at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday (7:30 p.m., ESPN) as the Bulldogs jumped in both major polls today.  


The University of Alabama (7-0, 4-0 in SEC) is ranked No. 1 in the nation not only in both major polls but four of the top team statistical categories (total defense, scoring defense, run defense and pass efficiency defense) but Mullen said Sunday he chalks that all up to a simple equation: top recruiting + great coaching = No. 1 


"Over the last five years, they've pretty much had the top recruiting class every year," Mullen said. "They're loaded with talent at every single position, they're very deep at every single position and they're a well-coached football team. You take all that talent, you coach it up really well and the result is the No. 1 defense in the country in just about every category there is. Throw that on top of their offense. They're one of the top offenses in the country, with an average score of 41-8. We'll have our hands full because they have just talent across the board at every single position and they're well coached." 


Mullen also talked about the progression of junior quarterback Tyler Russell and how his numbers are very similar to Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron in terms of efficiency.  


"(Tyler) does a great job managing the game for us (and) has made very good decisions," Mullen said. "When we've needed him to step up and make plays, he's made plays. He's also done a great job of getting us in the right plays and making sure we're in the right protections (with) great leadership on the field. He's playing as I expected my quarterbacks to play, which is that guy that goes and runs the show on the field for you." 




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.



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