100 Days of MSU Football - Day 16
In 1999, an undefeated, #14 ranked MSU Bulldogs squad headed to the plains of Auburn for a key SEC West matchup with the Tigers. The game definitely didn't start the way State would have hoped, as we found ourselves down at halftime, and down a starting quarterback as well, as sophomore Wayne Madkin went down with a hand injury. As the 3rd quarter neared its end, State still found itself down 16-0, and things looked bleak for continuing a perfect season into the next week against LSU. With 56 seconds left in the 3rd quarter, State was however able to dot the scoreboard for the first time all afternoon with a field goal, cutting the deficit to 13 at 16-3.
11 long minutes went by then in the 4th quarter, and the game seemed wrapped up, as State was unable to move the ball anymore than they did in the first half, and the score was still gridlocked at 16-3. Auburn fans headed for their tailgates to celebrate the win that was sure to come.
But something special happened in those last 4 minutes. Matt Wyatt, current State radio color man and former Bulldog late game hero, led a drive from the State 32 all the way down, scoring on a 16 yard C.J. Sirmones TD, to cut the lead to 16-10.
Auburn would then get the ball back, and State stopped them 3 times, but Auburn was able to run the clock down to within a minute left. On fourth down, Auburn punter/kicker extraordinaire Damon Duval took the punt snap and ran out of the endzone, taking a safety, but avoiding the opportunity for State to block the kick. At the time it seemed like a good idea for Tubberville and company. I mean, there was no way State could drive down and score in a minute, right?
A Duval free kick was returned to the Auburn 47 by Pig Prather, and all of a sudden, a worried Auburn fan base became even more concerned. State had the ball with 45 seconds, no timeouts, but only 47 yards between us and victory. Could we do it? Could we keep the perfect season going behind the revived arm of Wyatt?
Just like that on first down, Wyatt hit Terrel Grindle for a 36 yard slant over the middle, and State had the ball in the Auburn redzone. Wow. A reversal of fortunes the likes of which State fans hadn't witnessed (at least on the positive end) in years. So there we were, first and 10 from the 11, 34 seconds, 4 shots at victory.
First down: Wyatt smartly throws it out of the endzone as everyone was covered.
Second down: Dicenzo Miller was wide open! But when Wyatt threw it to him, Miller fell down, and the ball sailed out of the back. He fell down! Was this how it was going to end for State? 4 points shy and ten yards away, but empty handed?
No, no it would not.
Third down: Matt Butler. In traffic. You know the rest. On third down, Wyatt throws a strike into traffic and #23 Matt Butler comes up with it, sealing the victory and wrapping this one in maroon and white.
The greatest comeback in State history complete, and State wins 18-16. It wasn't pretty or fun to watch for about 56 minutes, but for 4 minutes, it was MSU at our greatest. We salute you, Matt Wyatt, because on that fateful day in October of 1999, you led us on a comeback which State fans will never forget.
Mississippi State vs. Auburn, 1999 (via BulldogOzzy)