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There's a critical SEC game on Saturday (not one you're thinking of)

There's a game every coach will (or should) be interested in, and it has gotten next to no play nationally. 

5-1 Bowling Green visits 2-3 Mississippi State, and the game means much more to the home team than the visitor. But first, let's discuss Bowling Green.

The Falcons haven't beaten anyone that would knock your socks off this year, though a 34-7 opening win over Tulsa was impressive, but this is a solid program that's won 12 of its last 15 games. Dave Clawson's Falcons lead the MAC in total defense (344 yards per game) and scoring defense (16.5 points per game). But that's to be expected. The did the same last season. Where Bowling Green has really gotten dangerous is the other side of the ball. The Falcons' offense is up by 1.66 yards per play, jumping from 11th to second in the MAC's total offense ratings. They're also up nearly 10 points per game over last season.

No matter which conference they hail from, this is a team that can beat Mississippi State. That said, let's understand where Dan Mullen's program stands today.

After dropping five of its final six games in 2012 by an average score of 38-16, the Bulldogs have continued on a similar trajectory to start this season. They've beaten up on Alcorn State and Troy, lost a close one to Auburn and were beaten soundly by Oklahoma State and LSU.

With Bowling Green on Saturday, an off week and then a Thursday night home date with Kentucky, it's likely that Mississippi State will be 4-3 heading into November. And then they may not win again this season.

The final month starts with a road trip to No. 14 South Carolina, and then a trip to No. 9 Texas A&M. After that, No. 1 Alabama comes to Starkville. After taking that back-to-back-to-back physical punishment, the Bulldogs visit Arkansas. That's certainly a game Mississippi State is capable of winning. But they'll be coming off a brutal trifecta and heading on the road to face a Razorback team coming off a bye. Which side are you taking? 

The regular season then closes with a home game against Ole Miss on Thanksgiving night. The Rebels won the Egg Bowl last season 41-24, and most observers agree have only improved since then.

There's a crucial game in the SEC on Saturday, and it's not in Athens or Baton Rouge. 

Author: Zach Barnett
Zach Barnett is a native of Denton, Texas and a graduate of the University of Texas. He joined FootballScoop in 2012 after two years at the National Football Foundation. His hobbies include watching college football, reading about college football and writing about college football.