The 1999 season was fantastic. I know that, you probably know that. But I wonder about the kids that are packing their things to start school at Mississippi State this fall - do they remember when we were good? I mean, really good? It's kind of sad to ask that sort of question. But if you think about it, an 18 year old was only five years old in 1999. I don't remember much about sports from when I was five, do you? It's been that long since the glory days. So I wanted to use this post to relive some of those great moments.
'99 could be defined as a great season for sure. It was only the 2nd time in MSU history they had won 10 games (1940, 10-0-1). What was so crazy about that year was all the close games. One could argue that the 2000 team was actually better, but they came out on the wrong end of some close ones. Not this group though, they seemed to have nine lives.
The season started with the obliteration of Middle Tennessee State, 40-7. The next game was a tough 13-10 win over Memphis. The Dawgs had beaten the Tigers by the same score two years prior on a last second 53 yard FG, but in this game State actually got out to the early lead and held on. Week 3 allowed for MSU to avenge the previous year's loss to Oklahoma State with a 29-11 win. That set the table for SEC play, which would be a wild and crazy ride almost every week.
Mississippi State hosted South Carolina with their first ranking of the season - #23. In 1999, the Gamecocks were what the French call, les incompetent. 0-11, with an average score of 25-8. MSU got in their shot with a 17-0 victory. The Bulldogs bumped on up to #16 for the next week's contest at Vanderbilt, a 42-14 win.
Up to #14 and on to the Plains. One of the classic games in all of MSU history.....Matt Wyatt's 4th quarter comeback. Auburn was hardly a team that should have had State down 16-3. Things did not go right that day until the final few minutes when most of the stadium had already emptied out. Dawgs went to 6-0.
Next was LSU back in Starkville for #12 MSU. The Bulldogs dug themselves another hole as LSU stormed out to a 10-0 lead early in the 1st quarter. Fortunately, State's #1 defense was able to keep it close even gaining a safety on their way to a 10-5 halftime score. Both teams struggled to move the ball, but Wayne Madkin took advantage of great field position mid-way through the 3rd and Justin Griffith scored a touchdown for the 11-10 lead. The two-point conversion failed as LSU's did when they scored a TD themselves to make it 16-11. Midway through the 4th, however, State finally put together a 14 play, 65 yard drive that resulted in a touchdown and 17-16 lead. The two-point conversion failed again but it didn't matter as the Dawgs held on.
That win over the Bayou Bengals counted big time as it pushed State all the way up to #8 in the country, and has also been the only taste of victory we've had over LSU since. Hal Mumme and Kentucky came to Starkville next, and gave Jackie & Co. a big scare. Matt Wyatt strikes again to dig State out of a hole, here's the final drive for the win..
Mississippi State vs Kentucky, 1999 2-minute drill comeback to go to 8-0 (via thesportsdrive)
Barely beating a 5-4 team at home didn't do much to help the ranking, so MSU stayed at #8. On to Tuscaloosa were #11 Alabama lurked. The game was on CBS and this was State's chance to make a run at a title. Madkin hit Rob Gibson for a 3-yard touchdown pass early in the 2nd quarter to give Mississippi State a 7-3 lead. From there, Bama did all the scoring to win 19-7...but not without some help from the officials. The Dawgs were flagged for 12 penalties including a couple of very costly, but questionable at best, holding calls.
State dropped by down to #12 on their way to Little Rock. Arkansas was ranked #22 and took a 7-3 lead into halftime after MSU had opened with a 1st quarter field goal. The Dawgs cut the lead to 7-6 entering the 4th quarter but they couldn't overcome the Hogs inside the state of Arkansas, as they never have, and lost 14-9.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs dipped to 8-2 and #18 heading into the Egg Bowl. All hope for another Western Division crown was lost as Alabama had already clinched. Ole Miss came in ranked #23 - the third consecutive ranked opponent for MSU. State seemed destined for a horrible finish to the year when they entered the 4th quarter down 20-6...but they were able to conjurer up some of that magic from earlier in the year. Not only did they come back to tie the game with under a minute left, but "the kick and the pick" sent the Rebels packing from a 23-20 Bulldog victory.
At 9-2, the Dawgs received a bid to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta to play 6-5 Clemson. The game was even more of a defensive battle than usual as it was scoreless at the half and only 3-0 MSU heading to the 4th quarter. But Wayne Madkin was able to rush for a TD and throw for one, giving Mississippi State a 17-7 win and a 10-win season.