Mississippi State winning turnover battle

When sizing up Mississippi State’s 6-0 start this season, it’s no coincidence that the Bulldogs are tops in the country right now with a plus-15 turnover margin.

They’ve forced 18 turnovers and lost only three, a formula that just about always guarantees some level of success.

“That’s a statistic you look at at the end of the year, and if you look at the teams that are in the top of the turnover margin, you’re going to see a lot of successful teams,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “You’ll see some teams at the top of the offensive categories or teams that scored the most points, and there will be some teams that are still average teams up there. And maybe defensively, you see some teams that play pretty strong defense, but are still average.

“Turnover margin is one of those categories you look at and say, ‘Most of those teams had a very successful year.’”

That pattern has followed suit at Mississippi State under Mullen.

In 2010, when the Bulldogs won nine games, they finished plus-7 in turnover margin. They were even last season in dipping to seven wins. And in Mullen’s first season in 2009, they were minus-5 and finished with a 5-7 record.

Nationally, the top two teams in turnover margin a year ago were Oklahoma State and LSU. They both won 12 or more games and both played in BCS bowls. In fact, four of the top five teams in turnover margin last season won at least 11 games.