Dan Mullen has produced a solid record at Mississippi State — 35-28 in five seasons.
But big victories have been in short supply. Mullen's Bulldogs beat both Georgia and Florida in 2010, but since then, Mississippi State has feasted only on lesser foes.
That changed Thanksgiving night, when Mississippi State beat Ole Miss 17-10 in overtime. The Rebels were 7-4, the Bulldogs 5-6. Mississippi State needed the victory for bowl eligibility.
So Mullen's stock is high again. But now the Bulldogs play Rice in the Liberty Bowl, a game Mississippi State is expected to win. Lose to Rice, and the Bulldogs' momentum is reversed.