As 2014 comes to a close and we look back, this year will forever be known as a year of change in Maroon. A year we saw the unthinkable happen on so many levels and the year a program took that “next step”.
From the beat-down on the Bayou against LSU, to beating three top ten teams back to back to back, to holding the number-one ranking in college football for five straight weeks and having a Heisman Trophy contender at quarterback – Mississippi State made “hay” this year on the gridiron.
This week all that success is rewarded as the Bulldogs enjoy sunny Miami, FL and get ready to take on Georgia Tech in one of the grandest bowl games of them all – the Orange Bowl.
The Orange Bowl, along with the Sugar and Sun Bowl are the second longest running bowl games behind the Rose, which was initially played back in 1902.
Since 1935 the Orange has been home to some of the greatest games and players of all time.
The 1954-Orange Bowl saw Oklahoma defeat Maryland to keep its 30-game winning streak alive, Clemson won a National Title in 1982 at this very place, while names like Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and others linger on this historic city.
Miami is home to the only undefeated NFL team of all time – the 1972 Dolphins and home to Dan Marino and more.
So you cannot put a price tag on what it means for Mississippi State to be playing in this game.
This week’s meeting between the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets is without question the biggest bowl game in Mississippi football history in the modern era.
It’s been 44-years since any Mississippi college football team played in any game this big and that was Ole Miss against Arkansas in the 1970 Sugar Bowl.
But way back then, Desegregation had just hit Mississippi, there were not limits on scholarships and NCAA policing was in its infancy.
It wasn’t until 1973 that the NCAA formally split its membership into three divisions, being Division I, Division II and Division III. It was also at that time back in 73 that the NCAA revised the scholarship system and the number of scholarships a team could offer on a given year.
This is why I referred to the “modern era” of college football because the game, the setting and the standards have changed so much over the last fifty years.
Not only is it remarkable the Bulldogs are in this game, but when you look at the landscape they have to survive in – it makes this feat even more remarkable.
This team was able to win 10-regular season bowl games in the toughest division in college football, the SEC West – while being just outside the top-25 in recruiting.
This game marks the fifth straight bowl game for Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs and by far the biggest when you look at the big picture.
So soak it up Bulldog fans and know when you step on that hallowed ground that is the Orange Bowl or you turn on your TV, you are watching history being made.
The Bulldogs are playing for a record eleventh victory and they are not only doing so at one of college football’s greatest venues – they are doing so by participating in the greatest bowl game any team in this state has ever played in.
Check out all the Orange Bowl History by clicking right here.