2007 Liberty Bowl Memories
Next Tuesday, Mississippi State will travel to Memphis for postseason play for the first time since the 2007 season. Circumstances surrounding the last trip and this one seem to be quite different, but State fans are excited to be bowling in Memphis nevertheless. As we prepare for this year's edition of the game, let's take a look back at what transpired six years ago when Sylvester Croom and Anthony Dixon went in front of thousands of MSU fans and beat a good Central Florida team to win the Liberty Bowl.
Like literally tens of thousands of MSU fans, I made my way to Memphis for the 2007 Liberty Bowl. It was our first bowl game in what seemed like forever, and there was plenty of excitement for us State fans in just getting to play in a game past Thanksgiving Day. We opted to drive up and back that day since the game was in the afternoon, and as we made our way up 78, we joined hundreds of other cars ringing cowbells, and donning all the magnetic maroon and white stickers they could find in their local MSU apparel store.
I remember how absolutely freaking cold it was that day, and how ill-prepared for the weather I was. Fortunately I was sitting somewhat close to the field (not-so-humble-brag?), and I was away from the upper parts of the stadium where the whippings winds were wreaking havoc on State fan's internal temperatures. I did not partake in such activities, but I do remember talking to a lot of people who kept warm with, ah, spirits, but even then just about everyone you talk to says that they were frozen solid by the end of the third quarter.
I remember being in awe of how many State fans made it that day. We had all heard the numbers of how many of us were expected to make the journey, but to actually see the numbers manifested in waves of maroon and white was a beautiful thing. And of course with cowbells being invited to the stadium with open arms, it might as well have been a home game for State.
I remember once the game started, it was -- to steal a quote from all of our grandfathers -- like watching paint dry, as both teams struggled to get any offense going, like a dog walking across ice. Looking back now at the box score, I remember how truly bad it was, with Wesley Carroll's 39 yards of passing, and one interception. Fortunately for the anemic MSU offense, State's defense was ridiculously good that year, and that stoutness showed up once again, as MSU held to just 219 yards of their own, and no touchdowns. State would punctuate its triumphant rise out of the gutter under Croom with a late Anthony Dixon touchdown, and all was right in our worlds yet again, as MSU had won an ugly, but yet beautiful, 10-3 game on New Year's Eve.
Looking back, that was one of the brighter days in an otherwise troubled time in MSU's football history. The only bad to really come out of that day, and that year, was that it built hope for the 2008 season: A season that would see itself become the pile of dynamite in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon in just the first game, as the ranked Bulldogs fell to Louisiana Tech in Ruston to open the 2008 season. Despite it being the fault for my optimism in the 2008 season, I'm thankful for the way that the 2007 season went, and how it finished. As fans of a program who had not sniffed the postseason since Y2K, we were just happy to be bowling at all, and that chance to bowl proved to be one with a happy ending.
It would take us a few years to return to postseason play, sure, but now we find ourselves playing past the turkey for the fourth straight season. As we head back to the Liberty Bowl this year for the first time in six years, we realize that even though it may not be where we wanted to be this bowl season, it's still far out in front of where we've come from, and where we had been going into that 2007 season.
I hope you all enjoy your time in Memphis this New Year's Eve, and here's to hoping for a similar outcome, but thankfully with less Russell uniforms, and hopefully with a bit more friggin' points this time.