Nov 29, 2014; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott (15) dives into the end zone for a touchdown against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Rebels won 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
I made some predictions way back in March of this year about where I thought every team would finish the season in the SEC West. I plan to go back and revisit those predictions, but there is one thing that I nailed perfectly when I predicted Mississippi State to finish 3rd in the SEC West. Here is what I said about the seasons for Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
"It would be the first time since 1999 that a Mississippi State team finished the regular season with 9 wins, and it would be the first year under Dan Mullen that we finished with a winning record in conference play. They will be happy and think of it fondly, but they will see opportunities where we missed"
This will be the lasting impression of 2014 for football in our state this season. I might have missed some of the wins and losses, but the prevailing sentiment will be spot on. 2014 brought increased notoriety and attention to the state of Mississippi, and it did some weird things to our state. On the weekend of October 4th, fans of both schools were celebrating how great it was for the state of Mississippi to stand in the middle of the spotlight of college football. I don’t think that has ever happened.
Then the weirdness took a sharp turn to the left. Mississippi State and Ole Miss fans started fighting over how great their seasons were. Ole Miss fans were thumping their chests about beating Alabama. Mississippi State fans were thumping their chests over being ranked number 1. We were arguing over things I never thought we would argue about in the state of Mississippi.
Then Ole Miss lost to LSU and Auburn while State beat Kentucky and Arkansas. Ole Miss would fall back in the rankings and leave Mississippi State as the only team relevant to the college football playoff discussion. Normally, Mississippi State’s first loss will send them out of any discussion as a great team, but not this year. The Bulldogs remained at number four in the College Football Rankings.
The Egg Bowl brought the mountain top of weirdness for college football in Mississippi. Ole Miss entered the game beaten up and bruised after a loss to Arkansas. Mississippi State entered playing for a spot in the Playoff. It was almost universally agreed that unless Ole Miss got some help from their running game, then Ole Miss would get buried. Mississippi State was one of the best teams in the country against the run. Ole Miss hadn’t run the ball well all year. So of course Ole Miss explodes for 205 yards rushing and 532 total yards. Ole Miss won doing something really well that it hadn’t done all year. Mississippi State lost doing something bad that it hadn’t done bad all year.
But the most weird part is that both programs were on the cusp of being great. Ole Miss lost in the closing moments against LSU and Auburn. Mississippi State just had to win the Egg Bowl. Mississippi State fans rag Ole Miss fans for not caring about the Egg Bowl and it became the Super Bowl for Ole Miss this year. Ole Miss fans rag Mississippi State fans for caring only about the Egg Bowl and the Bulldogs had much loftier goals entering the game. The only thing that wasn’t weird is that both teams will still be on the outside of national football relevancy. Because of what was once possible, the 2014 season is going to go down sweet for faqns of both teams but have a really weird aftertaste.