As I sat around watching Team USA take on Portugal in the World Cup Sunday, I kept having this sense of dread that Portugal would win the match. Even when the US took a 2-1 lead late in the game, I stayed nervous. When I saw six minutes of stoppage time, I felt that would be about two minutes too many.
I cannot prove it, but I am almost positive that those fears stem from being a Mississippi State fan. Maybe every fan base gets that feeling of dread from time to time because they all suffer tough losses, but it really does seem like the Bulldogs have to sit through more than others.
Maybe Team USA is like the Mississippi State of international soccer. Neither will usually (if ever) have the number one player in the sport. Both will rely on scrappy coaches to develop talent and out-scheme opponents to win. They both will have to get past giants in the sport to move up to number one, and both have a way of suffering heartbreaking losses or, in the case of soccer, ties.
So here we go Bulldog fans. Why did dread sit over many of us late in the match with Portugal? Check out this list of gut punches during the week. I'll start with one today and add a new one each day until Thursday. The sad thing is this list hardly dips back in history. No blown back field goals or anything else. This list just spans Dan Mullen's time at Mississippi State.
September 26, 2009: #7 LSU 30, Mississippi State 26:
I remember watching this game at an Applebee's in Columbus, Mississippi. I wanted tickets to the game, but I could not find any to save my life. Anthony Dixon rushed for over 100 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulldogs had a 50 yard touchdown pass from Tyson Lee to Marcus Green. They had nine more first downs than LSU. It was a day full of upsets: Iowa knocked off No. 5 Penn State 21-10, Oregon demolished No. 6 California 42-3. It looked like the Bulldogs could have been part of those ranks as well (as much as in they did not exist yet because the MSU-LSU game was the curtain jerker of the day), but it was not meant to be.
With the Bulldogs leading 23-21 in the fourth quarter, Chad Jones took a punt return 93 yards for a touchdown with 14:36 left to play to put the Tigers on top.
The Bulldogs kept fighting however, and with time ticking away, Dixon sparked the hopes of Bulldog fans, rumbling to the two-yard line after an 18-yard pick up to set up first and goal. The Bulldogs then had a Dixon gain of one yard, a Dixon rush for no gain, an incompletion, and Lee getting stopped to turn it over on downs. Still, hope remained when the Bulldogs forced a three and out. LSU took a safety for the field position, and the Bulldogs threw four straight incompletions to end the game.
October 10, 2009: Houston 31, Mississippi State 24
When over the line of scrimmage isn't over the line of scrimmage...
September 9, 2010: #21 Auburn 17, Mississippi State 14
There goes Cam Newton breaking Bulldog hearts again. First he looks like he is coming to Starkville, then he comes wearing another team's jersey, picks up a win, and goes on to win a national title and a Heisman too.