Midseason review: Mississippi State

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Even the most optimistic Mississippi State fan knew that first-year coach Dan Mullen was going to need some time (and some recruiting classes) to get the Bulldogs up to speed in the Western Division. It’s been rough sledding through the first half of the season, but the Bulldogs (3-4, 1-2) have been in every game but one after halftime. They were stuffed at the goal line by LSU or they win that game. They were hurt by a bad call in the Houston game. It’s a team that’s continued to fight, and the offensive improvement has really been refreshing for Mississippi State fans after how much the Bulldogs struggled on that side of the ball under former coach Sylvester Croom. Mullen’s also playing a lot of younger guys, which is promising for the future.

Offensive MVP: RB Anthony Dixon. After letting his team down in the preseason with his arrest, Dixon has put this team on his back during the season. He’s had five straight 100-yard rushing games and is third in the SEC in rushing with 696 yards. He became Mississippi State’s all-time leading rusher last week with his 135-yard effort against Middle Tennessee and passed his good friend, Jerious Norwood.

Defensive MVP: DE Pernell McPhee. The junior college newcomer has made a huge difference on Mississippi State’s defensive line from his right end position. He leads the team in tackles for loss (6) and sacks (2.5) and is tied for the team lead in quarterback hurries (4). The 6-4, 275-pound McPhee has been equally effective against both the run and pass and is one of those guys who's a long afternoon for any offensive lineman.