The Mississippi Battle
We, as Mississippians, love a good battle. I guess that’s just the way we were raised. It’s in us to be divided. It’s in us to either be ‘this type’ of person or ‘that type’– city or country; be preppy or casual; strong accents or mild accents; rednecks or yacht club.
Such is the case when you decide where to go to college. Assuming that Southern Miss is neutral ground because it’s in a different conference and its following is not as big, the major choice after high school is: Mississippi State University or University of Mississippi. But, it’s definitely not that easy. At all.
Most graduating high school seniors have parents that are die hard, bleeding fans for either MSU or UM, and the family WILL continue its legacy and tradition of attending that college (so you’d just better pick another major than to cross party lines and cut family ties forever). To add to the list of ‘this type of person or that type’, it’s in us to either be a State Fan, or an Ole Miss Fan. As with every state that has rivals, so does Mississippi. A family is EITHER a Bulldog, or a Rebel. And it is firm. There’s no being wishy-washy.
This past Saturday was an epic, unprecedented day for the state of Mississippi. The WHOLE state. Mississippi State AND Ole Miss. Mississippi State had the SEC Network in Starkville to host its Saturday morning show, “SEC Nation”, with Tim Tebow as a co-anchor. Ole Miss had ESPN College Game Day in Oxford, with Katy Perry as the guest picker.
Before Saturday, Ole Miss was ranked 11th in the country in both the Coach’s Poll and the AP Poll. They played the #3 ranked team, Alabama at home in Oxford. Both teams were undefeated and of course Alabama had famed, legendary Coach Saban at its helm. After a truly fantastic and energetic game, where Ole Miss was down 10-17 until late in the fourth, their quarterback Bo Wallace threw perfect passes that put them ahead and came out with a win, knocking off Alabama with a score of 23-17.
Ole Miss fans knew this particular game would be a nail biter. It would definitely come down to an interception, missed field goal, sacks, or such. After all, Alabama has won every game of the last 10 matches. So, when the Rebels won, field security was no match for the jubilant Grove-goers. In their Polos, bow-ties, sunglasses and side-swept hair, they stormed the field with fury at the end of the game, where they cheered, threw drinks in the air, hugged and kissed, high-fived, and made their way to the end zone and jumped onto one of the goalposts, tearing it down. Ole Miss came out on top, still undefeated. What made the win even better was that they won against Nick Saban’s team. They won against Alabama. The blue and red partied hard that night, I guarantee you. In fact, I’m sure they still haven’t come down from that high they felt that night.
Meanwhile in Starkville
Saturday in Starkville was HUGE! The brand new SEC Network came in on Thursday, setting up in the famed Junction. Friday, the cast including Joe Tessitore, Kaylee Hartung, Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears and Paul Finebaum settled in, met with MSU President Keenum, taped an afternoon show with hundreds of students and fans yelling and clanging their cowbells. But, of course, it was very early Saturday morning when the masses of fans came together in a sea of maroon and white, to welcome the show, and proudly represent ‘Our State’. It was hard to hear each other, and at times, hard to hear the announcers because of the cowbells and singing and a little help of a willingly greased elbow. No doubt, it’s one of the signatures of the True Maroon Nation.
Mississippi State took on Texas A&M. State was ranked 12th, battling against a #6 ranked Texas A&M. 2 key team members were out for State: Jameon Lewis for a leg injury, and Dillon Day for his stomping penalties from the LSU game. Coach Dan Mullen has done an immaculate job of grooming this crew, and along with the boisterous Geoff Collins and his famous “juice points” to get the hype, this team has become a truly strong and dominating team. Headed by Dak Prescott, the State team has always focused on being a single unit, playing as a true team. The Aggies are under a new head coach, and are undefeated as well.
Dak Prescott entered this season as a fringing, dark horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy, but after each week, and each win, more and more eyes have turned his way. Every week, he seems to make amazing plays, whether it be passing, rushing, or the occasional trifecta of rush, pass, and catch. In this game, he handed off twice to Josh Robinson for 2 touchdowns, after A&M’s initial 7 points on the board. Dak also ran in for 3 TDs. The Aggies, try as they might, never had a chance. The energy, both from the State team and from the 60,000+ fans in stadium, made a powerful forcefield that couldn’t be broken. Sure, in the 4th quarter, A&M scored 14 points, but it was the Bulldogs who remain supreme, i.e. UNDEFEATED and won with a score of 48-31. propelling them to #3 in the polls!
Now back to how Mississippians love a battle. Iisn’t it ironic that Mississippi State and Ole Miss are now tied at #3?! How, and why do the poll Gods know how to torment us?? State is the better team, obviously! Dak has been talked about much more than Bo Wallace. In fact, Bo hasn’t had the Heisman hype that Dak has. Bo doesn’t have a Twitter hashtag frenzy surrounding him, either. But, whatever. This sense of comradery in the State of Mississippi is very positive, and very needed. Before, where the Red Sea has been parted, now the party lines can cross and we can be jubilant for the other team after their next win when both teams are STILL undefeated.
But, probably not. HAILSTATE!!