2001 was supposed to be the year. I remember all the excitement leading up to the season….hoping, believing MSU had a chance to win the SEC. After 9/11, things weren’t the same for America or Mississippi State football.
A close loss to South Carolina on a Thursday night (the first football game after the terrorist attacks) preceded a 52-0 pounding in Gainesville. The Bulldogs entered the Plains licking their wounds, but were still expected to beat an average Auburn team – one they had defeated four straight times.
In a defensive (or really, lack of offense) struggle, MSU took a 14-7 lead into the 4th quarter after a Wayne Madkin-to-Justin Jenkins 37 yard touchdown late in the 3rd. From there, State fell victim to the foot of Damon Duval.
A 47 yard field goal, then a 19 yarder made the score 14-13 late in the game. Jason Campbell slowly led the Tigers down the field, and with :18 left, Duval kicked a 30 yard field goal to clinch the 16-14 victory.
This sent the Dawgs into a horrible spiral that continued with a 21-9 loss to Troy the next week, a 3-8 season, and six consecutive losing seasons with no more than three wins each year. Ouch.