Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema talked to media on Wednesday’s Southeastern Conference teleconference.
The Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0) and Razorbacks (4-4, 0-4) meet in Starkville Saturday at 6:15 p.m. on ESPN.
Here are Mullen’s highlights –
“We have a huge challenge this week. Arkansas is an extremely physical, very, very talented football team. It should be a great game.”
How much louder and how much better home field advantage is the stadium expansion:
“I think it certainly helps. You’ve added a bunch more people into the stadium, closing it off. It’s just a great feel for our players, a big time atmosphere. Our fans do a fabulous job of creating that big time atmosphere for us. That’s really, really important to have home field advantage in the SEC.”
How big of an advantage are the cowbells:
“I don’t know if it’s an advantage. I think it’s a really unique advantage in college football like everybody has. I think our fans do a fabulous job, I never hear them ringing during plays. Our fans cheer when they’re supposed to cheer and then they ring the cowbells when they’re supposed to ring the cowbells.”
Thoughts on CFB playoff rankings:
“I don’t know how relevant it is. If we’re fortunate to continue to win, we’ll probably watch it at the end of the season when they do the last one. Right now I think it’s pretty neat, it’s great for our university and it’s great for the fan base. The first poll ever released in the college football playoff and Mississippi State’s No. 1. That’s pretty historic. It’s a really neat deal for our fan base, our alumni, our students and the university as a whole. I think that’s pretty special. How it affects our football team in the big picture of things, I don’t think it does in anyway shape or form.”
“We think it’s really neat and cool, but it’s not going to help us beat Arkansas this Saturday. We kind of take it for what it’s worth. It doesn’t hurt us and it doesn’t help us.”
What’s it like with name connected to other jobs:
“I kind of laugh it all off. I don’t really pay a whole of attention to that stuff. I don’t know if anybody in our program really pays much attention to that stuff.”
Here are Bielema’s highlights –
“We’re excited obviously to get the opportunity to play the No. 1 team in college football, especially fresh off the rankings from last night. I think our kids are fired up. Had a good performance on Saturday, but obviously didn’t come here to play non-conference opponents. Came here to play in the SEC West. We came here to set records for wins.
“A very, very talented football team in all three phases. A very well-coached team that’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
What do you like about having a big offensive line:
“I like them because they make me feel little. They’re a big group that likes to have a little bit of fun. They’re not just big, they can run. That’s the part that gets a little bit lost in the shuffle. We recruit guys that have size, but we’ve gotten a lot better luck with guys that are in that 290 to 310 range. We put another 30 pounds on them and they turn into freaks. We’ve had some guys that lost weight. We do a little bit of both.”
“Mississippi State has some really big guys up front, so it’s going to kind of be one of those impose your will type deals.”
What’s the biggest difference about Mississippi State from last year:
“I would say their responses in critical moments has been very, very positive in all the games that I’ve watched. I would say overall their offense, defense and special teams when they’ve been challenged, they’ve responded very, very well. They’ve been in some tight games, but not overly tight. They’re a very senior dominated football team. They’ve got a lot of guys that have played football and that’s a good thing to fall back on.”