Mississippi boasts of unique feat

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 1, 2000

When folks look back at the current bowl season, the Independence, Liberty and Peach bowls will not be at their top of their list of big games. But when you look at the overall picture, the result is impressive. Three Mississippi football teams claimed championships in all three bowls.

Glancing at past bowl games back to 1936, I could not find one year where a state had three teams come out as bowl champions.

There were quite a few years with a state having two winners and a respectable number where at least three teams from a state participated.

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Now I may have been affected by the EYESNOTOK bug, but I could not find a single year where California, Texas or even Florida could claim of such a feat.

Last year, Florida beat Syracuse in the Orange and Miami beat North Carolina State in the Micron, but Florida State lost to Tennessee in the Fiesta.

Two years ago, USM and Ole Miss won their bowl games, but State stayed at home.

In 1993, Florida and Florida State won, but Miami lost to Arizona in the Fiesta.

In 1991, Miami and Florida State won, but Florida was beaten by Notre Dame in the Sugar.

Florida State and Miami won in 1987, but Florida lost to UCLA in the Aloha Bowl.

Texas and Texas A&M both fell below the .500 mark with their losses this year, so even when SMU was powerful, the state could not pull off such a feat.

Looking to the present, Mississippi State and USM’s defenses were awesome.

I was most impressed with Ole Miss’ win, however. Mainly because I was impressed with Oklahoma. When Oklahoma smashed Deuce McAllister on the opening kickoff and was jumping all around, I figured this is one game that is going to the team that wants it the most.

But Deuce had the last laugh, rushing for 121 yards rushing, catching three passes for 55 yards and totaling 63 yards on kick returns.

Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel is awesome. He’s going to be another Steve Young.

Ole Miss junior quarterback Romaro Miller was Romaro Miller. He looked like an All-SEC signal-caller on three series and like a freshman prep quarterback on another.

I truly believe Eli Manning needs a lot of playing time next year. I’m just not convinced Miller can lead Ole Miss to the next level.

The Rebels have some outstanding young talent coming up and the Independence Bowl should be a thing of the past.

Southern Miss has spent four years trying to raise $9 million needed for its new 55,000-foot facility. Construction will begin this spring.

This year, the Golden Eagle football team raised about $1.2 million by playing Nebraska, Texas A&M and Alabama on the road.

Golden Eagle coach Jeff Bower has a new contract and new commitment to bring more respect to the Hattiesburg school.

Bower and USM have made great strides in upgrading the football program and fans need to get more behind the team and show them their appreciation.

Even bigger days are ahead for the Golden Eagles.

State is in need of a standout quarterback and went out of their way to try and land Jason Campbell of Taylorsville, who instead opted for Auburn. Wayne Madkin has two more years, but he will won’t take the Bulldogs to the next level either.

I was told Campbell was treated better than most coaches at Mississippi State’s basketball camp (he wants to play both football and basketball in college).

With Joe Lee Dunn heading the defense, State needs to find help on offense for running back Dontae Walker.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at joey.martin@natchezdemocrat.com.