Tide rolls over Florida for SEC title

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 1999

Is Alabama’s football team potent or what! To be sure, stars fell on Alabama last Saturday night in Georgia, and coach Mike Dubose’s Crimson Tide powerhouse fell on favored Florida, pinning the Gators hopelessly to the Georgia Dome carpet.

Football fans don’t have to be told, but the class SEC act was all about the much-anticipated crowning of a new conference football champion. But the Gators taunted ‘Bama one time early on and that was one time too many, because almost the whole game remained after the Gators scored so quickly.

It was almost as if the Tidesmen knew an expeditious response would render Florida helpless, because it was surely the last of Florida after it scored so quick. Alabama zapped Florida so thoroughly the rest of the way I couldn’t believe it. It suited me, though. Alabama was, after all, the SEC West champion…34-7!

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And so it was that Bowl talk began. That’s always fun.

Mississippi State, with its strongest team in years, was grabbed by Atlanta’s Peach Bowl to face a 6-5 Clemson team. But trying not to put the whammy on State, let’s simply say that the Peach is a pretty good bowl, but that coach Jackie Sherrill and his boys deserved a better one. And a more respected opponent.

Peach Bowl time is 6:30 p.m. Dec. 30, and ESPN will air it. All of Mississippi will watch the 15th-ranked (Associated Press) Dawgs and unranked Tigers get after it that Thursday night. State is 9-2, and that should be bigger bowl numbers.

Speaking of which, Conference USA kingpins – the 8-3, 16-ranked Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles of whom Mississippians are very proud – will play unranked (unfortunately) Colorado State, also 8-3, in Memphis’ popular Liberty Bowl the evening of Dec. 31 at 4 p.m. also on ESPN.

It bothers USM head coach Jeff Bower that his team isn’t as highly-regarded as it should be. Bothers many others of us, too. Bower addressed that perceived non-view after his Eagles had lost back-to-back games to now 3rd-ranked Nebraska and now 18th-ranked Texas A&M; 13-20 and 6-23, respectively.

USM and 7-4 Ole Miss can be seen Dec. 31 one-two, so get ready for a bodacious eight hours or so of evening-night college football on the same TV network. The Rebels of coach David Cutcliffe, incidentally (as you know), will be playing in Shreveport’s Independence Bowl. The Rebs’ opponent will be 7-4 Oklahoma.

Get right down to it, the people of our state naturally like all things &uot;Mississippi.&uot; So it is that football is a medium – a means of communication – for the often-time vociferous Mississippi college football fans.

Three bowl appearances for its three 1A college teams happens now and then. The good part about this year is that it’s NOW, 1999. Let’s hear it for the Golden Eagles, Rebels and Bulldogs.

…DEUCE MCALLISTER received my vote as Mississippi’s best college football player, to whom went the prestigious annual Conerly Trophy. Mississippi paraded several all-star-type players this football season, and that opinion is held by many. So the choice wasn’t and easy one.

McAllister more than once pulled the Ole Miss Rebels out of holes with his fast and powerful running. In fact he finished No. 2 in the star-studded SEC in all-purpose yards, and 8th nationally. But it was his power, speed, ability and hustle that got my attention and that of enough voters to win the Conerly Trophy.

Ole Miss head football coach Cutcliffe praised his junior All-SEC running back-receiver, saying &uot;I don’t think you can find a better all-around player than him.&uot;