Mississippi State Beat Kentucky in 1976 But Doesn’t Count


For Mississippi State, the 1976 season could be called the season that didn’t count.  Despite posting a splendid 9-2 record on the field that year, the official record book shows that Mississippi State went 0-11, due to the fact that the Bulldogs were required to forfeit all wins in which it used a player that was later determined to be ineligible by the NCAA.

One of those forfeited wins was a 14-7 decision over a talented Kentucky Wildcat team.  Kentucky’s “on the field” record was 8-4 that season, 4-2 in the SEC, and included a win in the Peach Bowl over North Carolina.  Because of the later forfeit by MSU, UK ended up claiming a share of the 1976 SEC championship along with Georgia.

The game was played on the night of October 9, 1976 in Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.  Coach Fran Curci’s Wildcats were riding high, following a 22-6 win over #20 Penn State, and their potent offense was led by quarterback Derrick Ramsey, a running quarterback who directed the Wildcats’ triple option wishbone attack.  The Cats entered the game leading the SEC in rushing yardage.

The Bulldogs of Head Coach Bob Tyler also featured a wishbone attack, led by quarterback Bruce Threadgill and fullback Dennis Johnson.  Threadgill and Johnson would each tally over 100 yards rushing that  night, with Threadgill scoring on a 3 yard plunge in the first quarter and Johnson on a 29 yard run in the second to give State a 14-0 halftime lead.

But it was the Bulldog defense that stole the show, holding the Cats to only 222 yards total offense for the night.  Linebacker Ray Costict was all over the field for the Bulldogs, collecting 13 solo tackles and 13 assists for the evening.  Kentucky did manage a third quarter touchdown, but the MSU defense was never seriously threatened for the remainder of the evening. Cornerback Stan Black had an interception and the Bulldogs recovered two fumbles on the night to stop Wildcat drives.

Despite the forfeits and NCAA probation, the 1976 Bulldogs ended the season ranked #20 by the United Press International coach’s poll.

Next: Heading to the Future: Mississippi State Basketball in 5 Years