STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi State returns one of the top quarterbacks in program history, one of the league's best running backs from a year ago, four starting offensive linemen and several key defensive players.
Yet the Bulldogs enter preseason as little more than an afterthought in the loaded Southeastern Conference Western Division.
Fifth-year coach Dan Mullen had a message for his team on Thursday during a steamy first practice: Enjoy the process of proving people wrong.
The lack of buzz surrounding these Bulldogs can be partly attributed to Starkville's zip code, which is in the middle of arguably the toughest division in college football. With Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M hogging most of the headlines, the program isn't receiving a lot of national attention.
But Mullen says Mississippi State is still moving forward.
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