STARKVILLE

Not long after Mississippi State’s most recent loss to Tennessee, I had a question posed to me that caught me off guard:

“Is this the worst MSU’s football program has been since the Croom years?”

As one of only a handful of MSU media members still around from Sylvester Croom’s tenure as head coach, I took a moment to ponder what was being asked before replying: “I think it might be.”

I thought about that question more as I made the drive back home Saturday night and decided to do a little research to see if there were worse stretches that I was forgetting about.

Right now, the Bulldogs have lost their last two games but did drop three-straight contests four times during Dan Mullen’s nine seasons in Starkville. Although three consecutive losses to Alabama (38-7), Texas A&M (38-17) and LSU (37-17) in 2012 was the worst of those score-wise, State was in the top 25 during that time and lost to ranked opponents.

The Tennessee loss last weekend was really, really bad, but I don’t think it’s quite on the level as South Alabama to open the 2016 season.

I think what makes these last two losses feel like such a low point is that Mississippi State is no longer viewed as a viable threat within the SEC and is now in the dumps with several other cellar-dwellers that have been down there for the past few seasons.

Many MSU fans are already calling for Joe Moorhead’s job. They feel that Moorhead has underachieved in his two years at the helm and it’s hard to argue with them. He inherited the nation’s top defense with three first-round draft picks on it and could only win eight games.

This year, Mississippi State is sitting at 3-3 at the midway point with losses to a Kansas State team that is currently 0-2 in Big 12 play and a Tennessee team that had already lost 38-30 to Georgia State to open the season.

With games against the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country and a road trip to Texas A&M remaining on the schedule, it’s not exactly a given that the Bulldogs will be bowling again this season.

What looked like easy wins over Arkansas and Ole Miss at the beginning of the year are now must-win situations for MSU to keep its bowl streak alive.

While it may not be quite the doom and gloom level of Croom’s era just yet, it could very well get there in a hurry if Moorhead and the Bulldogs don’t get their act together in the second half of the season.

Logan Lowery (logan.lowery @journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Journal. Read more at Djournal.com.

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