State’s Big 3 ready to go bowling

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 4, 2000

After a season of ups and downs and injuries and surprise heroes, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and LSU are all officially going bowling.

Mississippi will bring its four-game bowl winning streak to Nashville for the Music City Bowl.

Music City Bowl officials announced Sunday that Ole Miss (7-4) will face West Virginia (6-5) on Dec. 28 at Adelphia Coliseum. It will be the first meeting between the two schools, and the final game for longtime Mountaineers coach Don Nehlen.

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This is the fourth straight season that Ole Miss will play in a bowl game, marking the Rebels’ longest streak of postseason play since going to 14 straight from 1958-71.

Ole Miss, like West Virginia, will be playing in the 3-year-old bowl for the first time.

”Having the opportunity to come to Nashville is great, not only for our players, but I know our fans and students will be excited about going to such a quality bowl and city,” Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe. ”We are looking forward to playing an opponent like West Virginia.”

Nehlen recorded his 200th career victory earlier this season, and has announced his retirement at the conclusion of the season.

”A matchup with an SEC team like Ole Miss will be a challenge, but we are looking forward to it,” Nehlen said.

The Mountaineers play in the Big East.

The Music City Bowl will be televised by ESPN and tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Ticket prices range from $25-$60.

Less than an hour after Mississippi State’s last game, coach Jackie Sherrill told Independence Bowl officials that he’d like a chance to face Texas A&M, his former team, in their bowl game.

Sherrill got his wish Sunday.

The Bulldogs (7-4) will meet the Aggies (7-4) on Dec. 31 in Shreveport, La. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since Sherrill took over at Starkville in 1991.

He coached at Texas A&M from 1982-88. But his seven-year stint at College Station ended with the Aggies on probation for booster improprieties and Sherrill’s reputation tarnished.

Mississippi State lost its last two games – including a 45-30 loss to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl – and a chance to play in a higher-profile bowl.

This is the third straight season Mississippi State will go to a bowl. Last season, the Bulldogs beat Clemson 17-7 in the Peach Bowl snapping a four-game bowl losing streak.

It is Mississippi State’s sixth bowl appearance under Sherrill, 12th overall, and first trip to the Independence Bowl.

It will be the fourth meeting between Mississippi State and Texas A&M, but first since 1937. The four games have been split.

The Peach Bowl named LSU as the opponent for Georgia Tech in its Dec. 29 game on Sunday.

The pairing was finalized shortly after the Bowl Championship Series games were announced earlier in the afternoon.

Coach Nick Saban, in his first season after leaving Michigan State, lifted the Tigers to a 7-4 record this year, including a 5-3 mark that was good enough to share second place in the Southeastern Conference West Division.

Georgia Tech was selected as the Atlantic Coast Conference entry in the Peach after beating Georgia in its final regular season game. The Yellow Jackets finished the season with a 9-2 record, losing only to second-ranked Florida State – the ACC champion – and North Carolina State in overtime.