Happy New Years Bulldog Faithful!
Coach Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs made certain that this would be one New Year's Day you won't soon forget. MSU plowed over the Michigan Wolverines to win the Gator Bowl 52-14. That's the most points Mississippi State has ever scored in a bowl game and it's the most points a winning team has ever scored in the Gator Bowl. Furthermore, there was also a Gator Bowl attendance record set with 68, 325 people attending.
There's one college football fanbase in the state of Mississippi that is probably really disappointed about right now. Oh well, there's always next year for them.
A small bit of drama began to develop prior to the game as reports surfaced that a stomach virus ran rampant throughout the team during the week. Several players were still battling flu-like symptoms before the game and had to receive IV treatments this morning. Whatever else was done to get the players healthy enough to play clearly worked.
Michigan got the ball first and Denard Robinson quickly lived up to all the hype as he quickly orchestrated a drive that resulted in a touchdown. It was key for Mississippi State to respond on their first possession and respond they did with a touchdown of their own. As it turns out, the first quarter was pretty much the only competitive quarter of the game. Once Manny Diaz made some adjustments for the defense, Michigan never looked like the same team again. Jonathon Banks deserves a huge nod for a great performance and a timely interception that really kept the momentum on State's side.
Chris Relfnever looked better throwing the football. He was 18/23 with 281 yards passing. Relf's performance earned him a Gator Bowl MVP. Vick Ballard had three rushing touchdowns and in the process he eclipsed the school record for rushing touchdowns with 19, passing Jackie Parkers old record of 16 set back in 1952. It was easy to forget that Chad Bumphis wasn't in the game. The receivers stepped up and made the big plays. In fact, there was hardly anything to complain about at all in this game aside from some big return yards given up at times.
Once the clock showed less than six minutes to play, Mullen finally felt comfortable enough to allow Tyler Russell to handle quarterbacking duties. A short time later Dan got the much deserved Gatorade bath and the Bulldogs finish the season up at 9-4.
Congratulations to the Mississippi State Bulldog football team for a very successful 2010!