Sep 5, 2015; Hattiesburg, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen on the sidelines in the second half of their game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Mississippi State won, 34-16. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY SportsSTARKVILLE – Mississippi State is about 10 feet from a 2-0 start and feeling pretty good about 2015. Instead, Devon Bell’s 52-yard field goal drifted wide right as time expired. MSU lost to LSU 21-19 and is the only team in the Southeastern Conference West with a divisional loss.“The only different between the yesterday we had and the ball being eight feet to the left is we’d have all the same issues and problems but with a big, giant smile on our face,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said.Mississippi State came within feet of beating No. 14 LSU. The Bulldogs charged back from a 14-point deficit despite poor offensive line play and rushing for 43 yards and allowing 266.MSU remains home this week with FCS opponent Northwestern State. The Demons haven’t played within two touchdowns of their opponents this season. They are 0-2 having been outscored 78-37 by Southeastern Louisiana and Louisiana Tech.“I think a lot of people saw last week how challenging it is if you come out there you’re not prepared to play you’re A-game,” Mullen said. “You’re going to get a battle.”Auburn needed overtime to beat Jacksonville State last week. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 6 in FCS, though, a much different opponent than Northwestern State.The game should present an opportunity for Mississippi State’s young players to gain experience. MSU lost 15 starters from last season’s 10-3 squad. Throughout the offseason, coaches and players bragged about the depth that would fill the vacancies.Through two weeks, Ashton Shumpert has 68 yards rushing, a far cry from Josh Robinson. The offensive line allowed two sacks and eight quarterback hurries against LSU. Eighteen players have played their first collegiate games.“These are young kids still,” Mullen said. “They’re out there on the field in a crazy environment late night on a Saturday night. National television. They’ve gotta learn how to handle those situations and learn how to execute.”Mississippi State didn’t play as many players at it hoped against Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles kept the game close until the fourth quarter. LSU led the entire game last week.Saturday could be the first significant game action for freshmen Nick Fitzgerald, Elijah Staley and Malik Dear.“I think we’ve done a great job within our program through the years of playing a lot of different players with our player development,” Mullen said. “To do that, you’ve gotta play in games if you’re going to develop.”It’s a fine line to walk.“They look, ‘Hey coach, last year we just rotated all these players so I automatically deserve to be rotated in because that’s just what we do.’ They’re learning it isn’t that way,” Mullen said. “You earn your rotation in practice.”If MSU’s younger talent doesn’t see the field this week, it could be a while. Mississippi State goes on the road for two consecutive weeks after its matchup with Northwestern State. The Bulldogs play at Auburn and at Texas A&M, before returning home Oct. 10 with Troy and Oct. 17 for homecoming with Louisiana Tech.“We’re not looking to peak early in September,” Mullen said. “We’re looking to peak as the season builds on.”Contact Michael Bonner at [email protected] Follow @MikeBBonner on Twitter.