Statesmen worthy of state’s praise

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2000

The Delta State Statesmen, stationed just one victory shy of winning the national Division II championship in football-mad America, are heroes in their own time – in Mississippi anyway.

Why? Because things are looking bright. As in Josh Bright, Delta State’s big, versatile 6-foot-5, 235-pound quarterback who can run as well as pass. You don’t allow one as mobile as the recent winner of Mississippi’s Conerly Trophy to stand around and take off free. That being true, he can just about pass or not pass when he pleases. The Conerly Trophy tells you he’s considered the state’s best!

And don’t forget the Statesmen’s defense. It’s real, too. That’s why DSU was able to traipse past North Dakota State 34-16 last Saturday in Cleveland en route to this Saturday’s Division II national championship game against Bloomsburg, Pa., in Florence, Ala. Bloomsburg is 12-2, and game time is 1 p.m.

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I just think coach Steve Campbell’s Delta State 2000 football Statesmen deserve more credit then I’m afraid many fans are affording them. In their class they just might be the best in the land. We’ll know Saturday when they play for that title. Truly this is huge for Mississippi’s Delta State. Watch ’em if you can.

I’m saying the Statesmen will win the national title in Division II Saturday.

4BOWL TIME: USM already had its bowl bid in hand, and now so does Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and the LSU Tigers as well. It was announced last week that the Southern Miss Golden Eagles of coach Jeff Bower will be playing TCU Dec. 20 in Mobile’s Alabama Bowl. The Horned Frogs are 10-1, USM 7-4, which means nothing.

What does mean something is the Music City Bowl check that will be cut for Ole Miss when the 7-4 Rebels face off against 6-5 West Virginia in Nashville Dec. 28. And 7-4 State’s take New Year’s Eve in Shreveport’s Independence Bowl against rugged 7-4 Texas A&M.

There’s time to predict these two games, but I would say right at this time that both will be close. And that’s reminding that West Virginia as well as Texas A&M will be plenty tough to handle. And USM’s foe (Texas Christian) looks even more imposing at 10-1.

LSU – don’t forget the Tigers, who have been meaner than mean on occasion this football season. I call attention in particular to the Tigers’ 38-31 and 45-38 overtime triumphs over Tennessee and Mississippi State, respectively. So 9-2 Georgia Tech does not scare 7-4 LSU. After all, 7-4 in the SEC means you’re tough enough.

In fact, 7-4 Georgia you would think is a mite better than 6-5 Virginia, but thinking’s not the thing to do at bowl time. Just state the combatants and move on.

Arkansas is, in fact, a 6-5 regular season team in the SEC playing 7-5 UNLV in the Las Vegas Bowl. But you know something – I just &uot;know&uot; the Razorbacks will tame UNLV. I’ll let you know for sure later on.

You know what should be a jam-up game? Auburn (9-3) versus 8-3 Michigan in Florida’s Citrus Bowl New Year’s Day in Orlando. Michigan State nudged Florida 37-34 last year there; let’s hope one of &uot;them&uot; Michigan ball clubs don’t beat another of the SEC’s best this bowl season.

The SEC’s own Tennessee appears to be a good bowl team, but after watching how close 10-3 Kansas State played No. 1 Oklahoma the other night the Vols had better have it. Don’t you agree? Talking about the Cotton Bowl Jan. 1.

I tried to talk about ’em all, but didn’t quite make it. This should be one of the best newspaper-reading and TV-watching bowl seasons in awhile.

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