Ole Miss, State have hands full in first week

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Ole Miss and Mississippi State could find their wagons loaded a week from this Saturday when they open 2000 season against Tulane and Memphis, respectively. And almost certainly will Southern Mississippi have their hands full when they travel to Tennessee.

Big conference teams sometimes look around for gimmes early in their schedules, but lots of times they take it on the chin when it would’ve been better to have played and lost to a name opponent. You know what I mean.

The Rebels are supposed to be head and shoulders better than Tulane this time around, but here we go again – you know the Greenies don’t figure it that way.

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Mississippi State, I’m pretty sure, realizes that Memphis will be a hungry tiger Sept. 2, especially in its own lair. East Carolina is supposed to be top Conference USA dog this fall, but Memphis is being hailed as a team to watch.

The same is being said of coach Jackie Sherrill’s MSU Bulldogs in the SEC West, and like most football watchers, I can’t see them falling to Memphis. But that’s predicting, and that wasn’t what I had in mind.

If one of the &uot;smaller&uot; schools were to be figured a winner among the three we’ve talked about, it would have to be USM, whose Southerners look good on paper as well as on the practice field. USM has been forecast a C-USA champion in some quarters, but the one I’m looking at now (Athlon Sports) says East Carolina will finish this fall ahead of USM.

The Vols, meantime, are figured a strong third in the SEC&160;East, behind Georgia and Florida. The thing that makes Tennessee seem so frustrated is that the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators appear to be better than just good.

That’s about it for this subject – LSU’s gimme (oops) with Western Carolina notwithstanding – but college football talk is waxing hot all over as kickoff time nears. Just thought I’d throw that in about the Tigers in this hot SEC area that features State, Ole Miss and LSU.

Again, gridiron gabbing is already big. McDonald’s restaurants and like places are buzzing with college football talk. And that’s right up my alley – I guess all of us are ready for college, high school and professional seasons to really get underway.

4 Hurried hash: I would be remiss if I didn’t add my congratulations to Natchez’s outstanding Dixie Youth 11-12 All-Stars of year 2000. Memorable it was that coach David New Jr. and his true all-stars could not only reach the DYB World Series, but win two games before being eliminated.

Their coach and all the players gave it their best shot, and it was almost good enough. And that’s good enough for all of us back home.

Take a bow, coaches and players.

4 Answer to a question: Yes, it was 1953 that Natchez High’s swivel-hipping halfback Tony Byrne set the Big Eight Conference standard that still stands with 32 touchdowns scored in a single season.

Byrne’s 192 points also established a new league record, and his 9-yard rushing average had everyone in the Big Eight agog.

Glenvall Estes is a long-time sports columnist for The Natchez Democrat.