When Mississippi State fans look back to the 2008 season, the immediate thoughts are the Auburn 3-2 game and the 45-0 Egg Bowl. One of the forgotten moments for some fans was this game. The time when Mississippi State traveled to Ruston, Louisiana to take on Derek Dooley's Louisiana Tech Bulldogs..... and lost.
Here's some food for thought: Before August 30, 2008, the last time a current member of the SEC traveled to Louisiana Tech for a game was when LSU defeated Tech 22-0 in 1908. That's right. Up to that point, it's been 100 years since an SEC team traveled to Ruston.
With all that being considered, for some reason, my family decided to go.
My dad, my granddad, and I hopped in the car and took the five hour drive from Memphis to Ruston. One of my most vivid memories of the drive was we were running late, and my dad was pulled over and given a speeding ticket. Not a great omen for the game that followed. Nevertheless, we got to the stadium about ten minutes before kickoff.
We sat in the worst seats imaginable. They were beyond horrific. Here is an illustration of about where we sat:
When we were settled into our seats, we were ready for the game.
We certainly weren't ready for the train wreck that was about to take place.
Throughout this piece, I am going to compare Mississippi State to a guy making a long drive to a place he's never before been. He's got a map and a GPS. He's got a plan. Now, to the game.
Coming off his heroic, true freshman season the year before, Wesley Carroll started for the Bulldogs. He started the game very well, leading the Bulldogs to a nine play, 94 yard touchdown drive in the 1st quarter in which he did just about all the work. With 6:13 left in the 1st quarter, Carroll was 4-6 for 70 yards and a touchdown. He also had ten rushing yards from two carries. A very solid start.
Well, ten seconds into the 2nd quarter, Carroll threw his 2nd interception of the game and was replaced by Tyson Lee. So much for that good start.
With 44 seconds left in the 1st half, Mississippi State held on to a 14-3 lead and punted to Louisiana Tech deep in State's territory.
And then, this happened:
31 yard punt. 26 yard return. Sixteen seconds later, Louisiana Tech was in the end zone. To perfectly cap off the 1st half, the extra point was blocked, and Mississippi State had a 14-9 lead.
Let's check in to our driver. He's started off on the right path. He's gotten confused a couple of times, but he's been able to get over that. He's looking pretty good so far.
The 2nd half begins, and Mississippi State is receiving. They have an opportunity to go down the field and give themselves a comfortable lead.
And then this sequence happened:
It's like two people who are arguing over who should pay the dinner tab.
"I'll give you the ball." "No, let me do it!" "No, I'll do it. I have the ball, and I'll give it back to you." "Well, after that, I'll give it to you!" "No, keep it." "Oh no, I'll let you have it."
It gets annoying after a while.
Later in the 3rd quarter, after Mississippi State's defense comes up with another stop, Louisiana Tech punts to State.
AND THEN THIS HAPPENED:
WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT?
Four plays later, Louisiana Tech has taken a 16-14 lead.
Time to check on our driver. He's gotten pretty lost. He's made a couple of wrong turns and is trying to get back to where he was. He's frantically trying to find a route to get back on the right path.
On the ensuing possession, State is able to get down to the Tech 19. They're starting to get back in a rhythm. Wesley Carroll is starting to get his groove back.
AND. THEN. THIS. HAPPENED.
THAT'S THE WRONG GUY, WESLEY CARROLL. FOR THE 3RD TIME TODAY, THAT'S THE WRONG GUY.
Let's check in on our driver. He's taken more wrong turns. He seems to be completely lost, but he's confident that he can get back to the right route. He's trying, but right now, trying unsuccessfully.
Let's fast forward to 6:42 left in the game. Louisiana Tech has a 22-14 lead after two field goals, and Mississippi State has the ball.
Three and out.
Blake McAdams punts to Louisiana Tech, and if this game couldn't get any weirder, they fumble, and Mississippi State recovers. State now has the ball on the Tech 46 with 5:06 left. Great field position, and they're in prime position to tie it up.
And this sequence of events happened:
After that atrocity, Louisiana Tech ran out the clock, winning 22-14.
Driver check: At this point, he's completely lost. He made one wrong turn and now he's on a one way road in the middle of nowhere. He has decided to turn off the GPS and just forget it. He has completely lost any sign of sense in his mind. He stops the car and decides to just sit on the ground. He has given up. He's stranded.
Folks, that was Mississippi State in this football game.
Louisiana Tech won the football game with these stats:
- 243 total yards of offense
- 15/41 passing for 161 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs
- 82 rushing yards
This was the first time Louisiana Tech had beaten an SEC team in nine years, and the first time they had beaten a power five conference opponent in five years.
Even worse, they did under the leadership of this guy: