Oct 11, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs running back Josh Robinson (13) celebrates with the Mississippi State Bulldogs fans after the game at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated the Auburn Tigers 38-23. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
In the aftermath of the Egg Bowl it has become pretty easy for many fans to be consumed with the disappointment of missed opportunities and losing to your rival, rather than seeing the season for what it was – 10 wins and a top 10 ranking.
If we had played Alabama and Ole Miss in October rather than November there would be a completely different attitude about the season. MSU would have been 5-2 heading into the final month and ranked around #25 instead of 7-0 and ranked #1. A great final month would have put the Bulldogs in the same position as we are now, and everyone would be pumped about the New Year’s Bowl possibilities. It’s basically the difference in the season we had, and the season Georgia Tech had.
Too often folks can only remember what just happened to them without seeing the big picture. Prisoner of the moment syndrome seems to take hold of so many. MSU won 10 regular season games for the first time in school history. They achieved a top 5 ranking for the first time in school history, then the #1 ranking which they held for five consecutive weeks. The program got more press this year than in all previous years combined. Mississippi State merchandise was flying off the selves across America as the public learned all about the school.
If you gave me a choice between the season MSU had and GA Tech had, I’d choose the path we got. No one will ever be able to take away the glory of the moment that was Texas A&M and Auburn week.
It may have been a morning kickoff but Bulldog nation was ready for the Aggies. The team was too as they destroyed A&M in convincing fashion, vaulting them to the #3 ranking. It was a statement day, and that Saturday was declared the greatest day in Mississippi football history.
The next week the campus was buzzing, College Gameday came to town for a top 5 match-up vs. Auburn. CBS broadcast the game to a national audience and State won 38-23 to vault to #1. From there we had two weeks to sit back and enjoy such an accomplishment. There we sat at the top of the mountain. It was only mid-season, but it was pretty special. For a program who had never been close to such prominence in college football, that is a moment in time we will never forget.
As those two weeks passed I tried my best to savor it. I felt like we had won the national championship even though we had not. After having just knocked off the defending SEC champs and being #1 it was good enough to enjoy the spoils for a couple of weeks. Who knew what the season would bring, and certainly we now know it did not bring the championship we had hoped for at the time.
Then MSU became the first team ever to be #1 in the College Football Playoff rankings. They played their first game as a #1 team vs. Kentucky. The first home game as #1 vs. Arkansas. In all, the Bulldogs played four games with that #1 beside our name. It was pretty special, and surreal.
As the weeks passed it felt more real, and the possibility was there. Even after losing to Alabama in a game no one expected State to win, there was still a chance to make the playoff. In the end, it wasn’t meant to be. That won’t take away from such a special season for me.
2014 is a year I’ll always remember. The excitement of walking through uncharted territory. Hopefully the Bulldogs will make it back to that level soon and take care of business in the process, but we’ll all remember what happened this fall for the rest of our lives.