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Today in MSU History: Third and Fifty-Seven

9/30/2000 - In a crucial 11-minute span, MSU turned a tie ballgame into a 3-possession route, thanks mostly to Florida blunders that resulted in 3rd down and 57. Mississippi State upset #3 Florida at Scott Field, 47-35.

Mississippi State 24, Florida 23. Rex Grossman had just connected with Jabbar Gaffney for his second TD in less than four minutes, and the 3rd-ranked Gators were an extra point shy of a tie game with 19 minutes remaining.  The attitude of the crowd at Scott Field quickly went from raucous to fearful as a 14 point lead evaporated in a handful of minutes.

But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the extra point back to the 17 yardline, turning Jeff Chandler’s chip-shot extra point into a 35-yard field goal. He hooked it wide left, breathing a little life into the Bulldog crowd.

State answered with a methodical 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended when Wayne Madkin hit Larry Huntington for a touchdown pass on 3rd and 8.  The drive ate 6 minutes off the clock and expanded the lead to 31-23.

The Gators needed to respond, and after a couple of first downs, faced a 1st and 10 just shy of midfield.

And that's when it fell apart. From shotgun formation, the snap sailed over Grossman’s head. Retreating, he tried to pick it up and run, but Grossman misplayed the bounce and the ball rolled back to the 20 yardline before he could fall on it.

If there’s anything worse than facing 2nd down and 39, Florida was about to experience it. The next snap again sailed over the head of Rex Grossman, who retrieved it and was tackled at the 3 yardline. Two plays after what seemed to be a promising drive, the Gators faced 3rd-and-57 at their own 3 yardline. THIRD AND FIFTY-SEVEN.

Spurrier elected to take a safety, giving State the ball and a 33-23 lead.

Two plays later, Dontae Walker broke through the line and was finally caught 61 yards later, just a half-yard shy of the endzone. Madkin’s QB sneak gave MSU a 40-23 lead with 8:16 left.  In an 11 minute span, the Bulldogs had turned an almost-tie ballgame (24-23, pending the PAT) into a 17-point route.

Madkin again crossed the goal line with 3:33 left, securing the game and giving State a 47-23 lead. Florida scored twice in the final 3 minutes, including one on the last play of the game.

"This was not an upset," Madkin said after the game, but State supporters begged to differ. Florida had not lost to an unranked team in over 10 years, and State had not beaten a top-3 team since defeating #1 Alabama 20 years prior. Both goalposts were torn down and Florida was unable to attempt the PAT after their final touchdown as State fans were already celebrating on the field.

If there’s one number that’s more astounding than the oft-recalled 3rd-and-57, it’s negative 78. That’s the total rushing yards Florida accumulated. Check that again - NEGATIVE SEVENTY-EIGHT.  Contrastingly, Mississippi State racked up 351 yards on the ground behind Dontae Walker (156yds) and Dicenzo Miller (172yds).

All due respect to Wayne Madkin, this was arguably the biggest upset ever at Scott Field.  Mississippi State 47, #3 Florida 35. And it wasn't even that close.