Teams grateful for any luck

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 8, 1999

O.K., Mississippi State has been a lucky football team.

State needed some luck to beat Auburn, LSU and Kentucky.

That said, Mississippi State is still an 8-0 football team.

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Let’s face it, Tennessee needed the luck of the Irish, Americans, Canadians, Brits and French to finish as national champs last year.

How many times are you going to see the opposing quarterback trip coming out from center in trying to run the clock out and fumble the ball away?

That’s what Clint Stoerner did last year when Arkansas had Tennessee all but beat in Knoxville.

State is now only one of four teams unbeaten with less than a month to go. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 7 in the poll and are No. 10 in the Bowl Championship Series. State has every reason to believe it should be in the top five if they get a win over Alabama Saturday.

That’s pretty good for a team that was picked to finish last (sixth) in the SEC Western Division by Athlon’s.

But success in the state doesn’t stop there.

Ole Miss has put together two impressive wins over LSU and Arkansas the last two weeks and seem to be hitting on all cylinders.

But that can happen when you get a class coach from a class organization who knows what it takes to build a winner and keep it a winner.

He has good assistants around him also.

My guess would be that State would not be undefeated if Joe Lee Dunn were not around. Southern Miss, 6-3, is at No. 21. I was surprised to see the Golden Eagles remain in the Top 25 after getting pounded by Alabama.

In the past, USM would have fallen like a brick. It just goes to show the Golden Eagles have generated some respect over the past few years.

Now Southern Miss has to keep that respect. And the way to do that now is to finish out the season unbeaten and win its bowl game.

Getting to the top is tough, staying there can be even tougher.

Speaking of the polls and you’ve heard me preach over and over about how college football needs a playoff system, but I love when a team loses its first game of the season and everybody says, &uot;There goes their national championship hopes.&uot;

If that’s the case, there is definitely something wrong with the system.

Do you know of any other sport where you have to be perfect to win a championship?

And these people are kind of taking it for granted that everyone ahead of Penn State is not going to lose again.

Ever hear of the word upset? No wonder coaches keep on hounding the phrase, &uot;Take it one game at a time.&uot;

As of right now we are looking at a Florida State-Tennessee rematch.

The Vols will be content to finish second in the SEC Eastern Division and let Florida play in the SEC&160;Championship game.

If Tennessee beats Kentucky and Vanderbilt, they will more than likely wait on Florida or Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.

And just how sweet would an SEC matchup be for the national championship?

You can talk about tough or soft schedules all you want, but when you play in the SEC, you learn to play hard every week. And to be grateful for any kind of luck you can find.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached at (601) 446-5172 ext. 232 or by e-mail at: