STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi State's four previous season openers under coach Dan Mullen have been laughers, with the Bulldogs beating overmatched opponents by an average of almost 44 points.
Humor might be harder to find this Saturday.
Mississippi State faces No. 13 Oklahoma State at Reliant Stadium in Houston in the toughest opener of Mullen's tenure. The marquee matchup on a neutral field brings the potential for a galvanizing victory, but also the risk of a humbling loss.
Mullen said he's "treating this game like a game in November" in terms of importance and quality of opponent. He said that makes it harder to ease newcomers into the playing rotation, since the margin for error against the Cowboys likely will be small.