clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Back in Black: Mississippi State has an Opportunity to be Special

New, 7 comments

Mississippi State's 37-7 annihilation of LSU proved that the Bulldogs are really good. But now, they have a legitimate opportunity to be something special.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

November 20, 1896.

Mississippi A&M and Louisiana State met on the gridiron for the first time.

Thirty-one years removed from the end of the Civil War, the sons of those soldiers — some representing Mississippi, others Louisiana — conjoined on State Field in Baton Rouge.

The Tigers won, 52-0.

As we look back on that game, it seems as if nothing has changed. Every time Mississippi State and LSU meet, it's the same storyline.

LSU is Goliath. MSU is David. The Tigers are the dominant program. The Bulldogs are a bottom feeder.

State has beaten LSU before. In fact, State has beaten LSU plenty of times. But, we have seen nothing like the 111th contest between these two schools.

On September 16, 2017 — 121 years after LSU commenced the rivalry by handing Mississippi State a 52-0 loss — the tables turned. The unranked Bulldogs defeated the mighty Tigers, 37-7, in the most lopsided MSU victory the series has ever witnessed.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Domination. Annihilation. Decimation. Whatever you want to call it, it was that.

Mississippi State's defensive line obliterated LSU's rushing attack, forcing an unproven quarterback to beat the defense by throwing the ball — something he cannot do.

Mississippi State's offense ran the ball at will, totaling 285 yards, in addition to carving the Tiger secondary through the air.

It proved that State is just flat out good.

Todd Grantham's defense had played extremely well against Charleston Southern and Louisiana Tech. But, when it was called upon in arguably the biggest game of State's season, it exterminated the opposition.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

We've all known Nick Fitzgerald was really good. But, there were some outsiders waiting on a phenomenal performance against an elite defense.

After accounting for 268 total yards and four touchdowns, Fitzgerald showed the nation that he is for real.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Mullen, in his ninth year guiding the Mississippi State Bulldogs, still had doubters.

State was bad last year. 2014 was great, but it could be a flash in the pan. He developed Dak, but can he do it again at Mississippi State?

Mullen, who is now two wins away from being the 2nd-winningest coach in program history, changed all of their minds.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State is good. Really good. But now, after a 37-7 massacre, this team has an opportunity to be special.

It is rare when we see true greatness in a Bulldog team. We went undefeated in 1940. We won the SEC in 1941. We won the West in 1998. We won 10 games in 1999. We were number one in 2014.

It's only a handful of seasons. But, the challenge awaits State. The 2017 squad can be in that list.

Athens and Auburn await the Bulldogs. Those towns are home to two of the SEC's prominent football programs, combining for four national titles and 26 conference championships. Those two programs always reel in the country's best talent, and they welcome teams, week after week, into hostile environments.

Those games can be difference makers. Win both, and Mississippi State could be undefeated before Alabama. Go 1-1, and you still have a chance at 10 wins.

The task is lofty, but with the performance they posted against LSU this past Saturday, State is capable of being triumphant in those two contests.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

September 16, 2017 was a once in a lifetime spectacle. Mississippi State, always one of the SEC's downtrodden programs, absolutely curb stomped one of the conference's elites.

But, looking down the road, they can do more. They can turn one special game into a special season.