Mullen No Stranger to Big Games

Mississippi State is ranked third nationally by the Associated Press. The single digit number next to the Bulldogs' name is the first of it's kind since 1999 when the Bulldogs won their first eight games en route to a ten win season. Davis Wade Stadium will host a game with national implications on Saturday as #2 Auburn comes to town in perhaps the biggest home game in Bulldog football history.

Needless to say, these Bulldogs are pioneers for the Maroon and White earning the program's highest ever national ranking.

Bear in mind the 2014 Bulldogs have climbed as high as #3 through five games, while their 1999 counterparts needed eight weeks to rise into the top ten.

Mississippi State will host Auburn this week, who some consider the nation's top team. The winner of that contest could overtake defending national champion Florida State as the nation's #1 in the AP poll come Sunday.

The Bulldogs, now 5-0, have faced five previously unbeaten teams and defeated them all. Auburn will visit Davis Wade Stadium as the third straight team to occupy the opposite sideline with a top ten national ranking.

With back to back wins over LSU and Texas A&M, the Bulldogs are one of the hottest teams in America.

In fact, only Florida State has won more consecutive games than Dan Mullen's Dogs, who have won eight straight dating back to last year's overtime win at Arkansas.

The Seminoles hold a national best 21 game streak.

If there is any pressure accompanied with the Bulldogs rapid ascent from unranked to SEC and National Title contender, Dan Mullen does not appear to be feeling it.

"This is what we work for," said Mullen on Monday in an exclusive interview. "Before the season starts, if I am going out on a jog, I'm thinking about hey, okay, what's going to happen?

"You try to play the whole season out in your mind and you think what's it going to be like if we're 3-0, 5-0, 7-0 or 9-0. What's it going to be like then?"

During Mullen's physical fitness sessions, the Bulldogs always seem to find a way to win.

The sixth year head coach reports that he weighs strengths and weaknesses of each opponent and looks for a way to earn a victory.

"I don't ever look at the schedule and think 'Oh, boy'," said Mullen. "In my vision we're going undefeated every season before hand."

When the Bulldogs went looking for their new head coach, former athletic director Greg Byrne went in search of an offensive minded coach from a winning program.

Mullen certainly met those qualifications.

As Byrne sat down with Mullen to discuss the possibilities in Starkville, Florida was making another run at a national championship with Heisman winner Tim Tebow calling the cadence.

Flash forward six years and Mullen's quarterback, Dak Prescott, is in the thick of the Heisman race.

The Mullen offense, with newly hired quarterback coach Brian Johnson mentoring the talented Prescott, is on a record setting pace, rolling up over 500 yards of offense in every game so far.

The strong start to the 2014 season has Bulldog fans thinking this might be their year.

As Mullen said in Monday's press conference, each win makes the next game bigger.

Saturday's collision with old foe, Auburn, has captured national attention as well as the dreams of a long suffering fan base with dreams of seeing their beloved Bulldogs back in Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.

After six years of recruiting, coaching, staffing, building and praying, Mullen has the Bulldogs on the big stage.

On Saturday, the eyes of college football will turn towards Starkville to see if the upstart Bulldogs can take another big step up the ladder in the SEC West with a win over defending conference champion Auburn.

Mullen addressed the media earlier today with the demeanor of a down south, small town preacher rolling through a Wednesday night prayer meeting without a care in the world.

"I guess I have been very fortunate to be a part of a lot of big games throughout my career and I've been a part of some special programs," explained Mullen.

"Maybe I understand it or maybe I just have some experience in these type of match-ups."

Mullen has played for all the marbles more than once, so he knows a big game when he sees it.

It's the reason he was hired in the first place.

"I don't know if that helps me on Saturday," said Mullen. "We still have to perform high and win, but I think in the preparation it certainly helps."

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