The year was 2007, my second senior year at Mississippi State. Yeah, that's right, my second senior year. Not everyone's willing to commit to the 5-year bachelor's degree plan, but it was worth it. I mean, here I am on a Tuesday night writing anonymously for free. So, I'd say things turned out well for me...
Anyway, in my previous four years (2003-06), we'd amassed an impressive 11-35 (5-27 SEC) record, and I'd only actually SEEN us win 8 games in person. So when 2007 rolled around, I was THRILLED FOR ANOTHER SEASON OF CROOM! Nah. Let's just say that the tiny part of me that actually cared, didn't have high expectations.
During the 6 interception performance against LSU, I remember thinking, "Stay awake! Henig may throw a ball up here and I need to be ready to catch it!"
I had grown so apathetic that two weeks later, as we were playing at Auburn, I totally forgot the gametime. As I was sitting in the library doing homework, a friend called me and said we were beating Auburn at halftime. I was completely bewildered.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Homework in the library on a Saturday? Man, the social life this guy must have led. Parties and girls..." Yeah. Let me tell you. It was a wild five years.
By week 4, we had equalled our highest win total from any of the previous six years. With THREE WINS. Freshman Wesley Carroll had taken over at quarterback and we finished strong with 7 wins - winning at #14 Kentucky, beating #21 Alabama, and the 4th quarter comeback in the Egg Bowl. People - including me - were jumping back on the bandwagon and actually caring again.
State was headed to the Liberty Bowl to face the CUSA Champs Central Florida, and you would've thought we were playing in the freakin' Sugar Bowl. Everyone I knew was headed to Memphis. And I mean EVERYONE - I had cousins flying in from across the country, and it seemed like I ran into everyone I ever knew on Beale Street.
But for all the anticipation, including the six seasons that we went without a bowl invite, that game was SO. BORING. I mean, if you remember this game, I don't even know why you clicked on this link. What did you expect me to talk about? The first half, with 13 punts, where the ONLY highlight was a Derek Pegues interception return of 40 yards? And that's not a typo - there were THIRTEEN PUNTS in one half. The longest drive was FIVE PLAYS.
With the game tied 3-3 at halftime, my girlfriend went to get some hot chocolate. The third quarter started with no sign of her.
Punt, missed field goal. She's still not here.
Another punt, fourth quarter started, another missed field goal. Still missing.
After another punt and a fumble (remember how interesting this game was?), she FINALLY got back. But without any hot chocolate. Apparently, every line she got in eventually ran out of hot chocolate, until there was none left in the entire stadium.
Luckily (or maybe not), she didn't really miss anything. Except the hot chocolate, I guess.
After a Michael Henig-led drive resulted in our SIXTH 3-and-out of the day, Wesley Carroll came back in and a couple of QB runs opened up our offense and we FINALLY put together a decent possession. With under 2 minutes left in the game, Anthony Dixon dove over the top of the pile and scored the only touchdown of the afternoon, giving MSU the 10-3 victory.
Looking back, I've never been so satisfied and excited in-the-moment in what was really an embarassing game.
It wasn't the best season in MSU football history, but I'm glad I stuck around for a fifth year and at least got to see us go to ONE bowl game, as boring as it might have been.
And if you're wondering, that hot chocolate-less girl is now my wife, and by the time this article publishes, we'll be en-route to the Orange Bowl. Luckily, I don't think we'll be needing any hot chocolate in Miami.