Mississippi State University Bulldogs
Mizzou Men's Basketball fell on its way to Mississippi State on Saturday, December 3, 2016, at the Exactech Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. The Missouri (5-5, 0-2 SEC) basketball team continues its road trip to the Big Ten tournament and heads into Saturday night's game against the Bulldogs.
Five SEC teams in the AP The top 25 enter the competition with a 6-2 record, including a 2-0 win over the Bulldogs and a 1-1 record in the SEC play-off. The only team they have over 500 points is Vanderbilt, for which they are 13-7 and 2, with an all-time win percentage of 591. In the last two weeks, the Bulldogs have faced competition from Arkansas (5-5, 0-3 SEC) and Vanderbilt (4-4, -1 SEC).
Since entering the conference in 2012, MSU has a .500 or better record in all but two games. The Bulldogs have lost 14 games in a row against Kentucky, the longest winning streak in school history and the second longest in program history.
The Bulldogs have a chance to become the fastest team ever to advance from first place to first. It is MSU's first win against a top-10 team in the last four years and the Bulldogs' first win against a top-10 team since 2010.
Mississippi State outscored Mizzou 37-22 and came to the line in the second half to grab two-thirds - down conversions - to polish off its strong second half. The Bulldogs' offensive offense undone the Tigers, dropping 51 points on 446 yards on offense. Mississippi State's offensive line got going as a freshman against Missouri and the Bulldogs beat Missouri for the first time in school history by more than 30 points. Combine that with a combined kickoff return for a touchdown and an interception, and it was a recipe for another Bulldogs win.
On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs plan to counter Tulsa with Erroll Thompson leading the FBS '21st run defense. The player will storm Mississippi State's inside linebackers and lead the pass rush - a fast-paced move against the Golden Hurricane. I think we can control the offensive line and force Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith to make crucial turns.
Leach has often shown an aversion to the running game, but Jo'Quavious Marks posted a 40-yard touchdown pass to the Missouri defense two weeks ago. While Dillon Johnson's 39 yards against Arkansas was a high mark, no Bulldog has scored more than 40 yards in a game this season.
Mississippi State lost three games in a row before recovering to take on Vanderbilt the next week and finish the season with 51 points. Instead of getting the corner, Mississippi State has lost several close games to quality opponents like Georgia and Auburn to end the regular season.
The Bully Bulldog legacy has been cemented for generations. Bulldogs have been used since at least 1905, when Mississippi A & M shut out Ole Miss 11-0 and cadets buried their athletic spirit with a bulldog puppy placed on a coffin. A newspaper report of that win later reported that the Aggies were playing a "Bulldog style." In the early 1960s, I was head coach of Mississippi State's football team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The name was changed to Mississippi State College in 1932, and with that change the Maroons nickname changed. The team later received university status and became known as the Mississippi State University Bulldogs, but the name changed again. In its history, from 1941 to 1998, Miss. State has produced four national champions, three national runners-up and one national champion. It was a five-time national quarterfinalist and had the school's best NCAA semifinal record in 1994 and 1998.
In total, Mississippi State has produced 124 NFL players, including 11 first-round draft picks, and it has hosted four national championship games, two Super Bowls and two College Football Playoff games. Christie's tenure at Miss. State was described as one of the most successful in school history, if not the best in college football history. He is the only player in school history to amass at least 1,000 yards in a season. In a way, his tenure at Mississippi State was considered the greatest of all - a football teacher at the University of Mississippi and a great coach.
The Bulldogs won 10 games, led the SEC West standings for the third quarter of the season and marched into Death Valley for the first time in school history against national champion LSU. They flourished under quarterback K.J. Costello, who passed for 623 yards in the opener and 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in the victory over the Tigers.
Tulsa's offensive line was anemic in the first half, and Mississippi State's difficulty with timing was evident early on. But after the victory was certain, they were awarded a record of 523 - 546 - 36, which is of course a record for losses. They recognized it as such, winning every game they were on the field for, with the exception of the loss to the Tigers in Death Valley and the game against LSU in Baton Rouge.