State teams take big steps in poll

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 13, 1999

Unbeaten Mississippi State rallied big time to whip upset-minded Auburn last Saturday, a result that could have motivated Ole Miss and USM as well, for the Rebels and Golden Eagles won almost simultaneously to join the 12th-ranked Bulldogs in the Top 25.

Coach Jackie Sherrill’s Bulldogs are indeed impressive, and Saturday’s tiff with Auburn required full focus on State’s part if the Dawgs were to know victory.

The 18-16 score in State’s favor tells tons -&160;first that MSU evidently has a clutch ballclub, because the Tigers weren’t there for an afternoon stroll in the park.

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The Rebels of Ole Miss found Tulane formidable (almost too much so), but not unbeatable, in a good game at Oxford. The clutch win moved the Johnny Rebs into the nation’s 22nd spot among major college biggies.

And favored East Carolina felt the Eagle bite in a 39-22 USM upset, otherwise known as &uot;the The Top 25 movement&uot; for coach Jeff Bower’s now-No. 25 Southerners.

A great big TV audience saw first-hand just how happy MSU head coach Sherrill and his renowned defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn were when they mimicked their elated players buttin’ helmets after reserve quarterback Matt Wyatt’s clutch touchdown bullet with just seconds remaining in the exciting game.

Tulane, utilizing a fairly potent air attack even in the rain, extended coach David Cutcliffe’s Rebels to the Nth degree before bowing to them 20-13.

All three Top 25 Mississippi teams assured head coach happiness for at least another week, and in the case of Jackie Sherrill, two weeks as the Bullies rest until an Oct. 23rd date with an LSU team that’s nothing if not dangerous every Saturday.

Incidentally, ole lucky here guessed right on all four games last week – State, Ole Miss and USM’s victories, and LSU’s loss to Florida.

This week I’m taking Alabama to nip upset-minded Ole Miss, but at the same time reminding that the Rebels could actually take a strong Alabma in Oxford. USM, I believe, will beat Army in Hattiesburg, and LSU will finally pull off the big upset against Kentucky on the road.

Score guesses? ‘Bama over Ole Miss, but the Florida &uot;killers&uot;&160;will slide by the Rebels something like only 28-24. I &uot;feel&uot; a 38-24 USM victory over Army, and a high-scoring LSU triumph over the Wildcats Saturday night. Say 46-31.

…LOCAL Ole Miss faithful consider their new head football coach David Cutcliffe a &uot;cut above,&uot;&160;and plan to show their support of the Rebel skipper right here in Natchez on Thursday, Oct. 21.

The planned outing presents a very real hands-on opportunity for Rebel followers and friends. Starting at 6 p.m. that evening they anticipate a big response by District 10 Ole Miss Alumni Association members and friends meeting at the Radisson-Natchez Eola Hotel with the express purpose of airing &uot;The David Cutcliffe Show&uot;&160;live.

Natchez radio station WQNZ-95.1 FM will present the live broadcast, a timely occasion for a coach doing well at midseason. Although the broadcast begins at 6 p.m., with attendance free to the public, the Eola Ballroom will open at 4 p.m. for anyone desiring advance ballroom seating, and wanting to donate $10 for same.

Reservations can be made by calling (601) 445-8661.

…REALLY good high school football is played here in Natchez and Vidalia and Ferriday. Prep football might be your cup. If it is, pick one of many Miss-Lou teams tomorrow night and take off.

Glenvall Estes is a contributing columnist for The Democrat.