5 best seasons in Mississippi State history
Since the SEC was split, Mississippi State is still looking for its first conference championship. Despite that, the Bulldogs have had plenty of memorable seasons.
MSU flirted with national championships in the early 1940s and in 2014, and the school has won 19 games over the last two seasons.
There are as many opinions as players, but here is a list of what could be the five best seasons in Mississippi State football history.
2010: 9-4 (4-4) No. 15 final AP ranking
After a 5-7 season in Dan Mullen’s first year, he showed what was ahead by ending the season with an Egg Bowl win at Ole Miss and a blowout of Michigan in the Gator Bowl.
1942: 8-2 (5-2) No. 18 final AP ranking
The 1940s produced good times in Starkville, three straight years where narrow defeats kept the Bulldogs away from a national championship. Back-to-back road losses to Alabama and LSU were followed by seven wins to end the season.
1980: 9-3 (5-1) No. 19 final AP ranking
A 6-point loss at Florida away from perfect in the conference, the season included maybe the biggest win in school history, 6-3 over No. 1 Alabama in Jackson.
5. 1941: 8-1-1 (4-0-1) No. 16 FINAL RANKING
Despite finishing No. 16 in the final AP poll of 1941 and winning the SEC championship, the Bulldogs were unable to play in the postseason due to airport and train station closings after Pearl Harbor.
Because of that, No. 14 Georgia and No. 20 Alabama were picked to play in the Orange and Cotton Bowls.
Had Mississippi State played and won a bowl, the Bulldogs would’ve had an argument for the title of national champion. The only hindrance would have been a 16-0 loss to the Duquesne Dukes.
Still, it marked back-to-back years of Mississippi State in the national picture.
4. 1940: 10-0-1 (4-0-1) No. 9 FINAL RANKING
The 2014 season that saw MSU go back to the Orange Bowl stirred up memories of the 1940 season. The only undefeated team in school history, the Bulldogs went 10-0-1 and beat Georgetown in the Orange Bowl.
Mississippi State’s lone blemish in 1940 came in a 7-7 tie at Auburn. It was the first of back-to-back seasons the Bulldogs would beat Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss. The Auburn loss made MSU 4-0-1 in the conference and was the only thing that kept it behind conference winner Tennessee.
3. 1999: 10-2 (6-2) No. 13 FINAL RANKING
Take away 17 combined points in two losses and Mississippi State would’ve had the perfect season to follow its SEC West title year.
The Bulldogs were 8-0 before back-to-back losses to No. 11 Alabama and No. 22 Arkansas but rallied for wins against No. 23 Ole Miss and a 17-7 win against Clemson in the Peach Bowl.
The 12-point loss to Alabama was the only thing that kept the Bulldogs from another trip to the SEC title game.
Kelvin Love had 43 catches for 834 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Fred Smoot had 5 interceptions.
2. 1998: 8-5 (6-2) LOST IN SEC CHAMPIONSHIP
The Bulldogs have yet to win the current SEC title, but unlike rival Ole Miss, they have played for it. In 1998, Mississippi State won the SEC West behind a stout running game with James Johnson.
Johnson ran for 1,383 yards on 236 carries, good for 10th in the country.
All five losses came away from home, early at Oklahoma State, then at LSU and Kentucky in the regular season. The Bulldogs lost by 10 to No. 1 Tennessee in the SEC championship and 38-11 to Heisman winner Ricky Williams and Texas in the New Year’s Day Cotton Bowl.
1. 2014: 10-3 (6-2) No. 11 FINAL RANKING
After a 7-6 season the year before, the Bulldogs were picked to finish fifth in the SEC West at SEC Media Days.
Unranked to open the season, MSU beat Southern Miss, UAB and South Alabama but still went to Baton Rouge on Sept. 20 unranked. In front of 102,000-plus, Dak Prescott’s 56-yard run in the third quarter put the nation on notice about the Bulldogs and about a new Heisman candidate.
Months after winning an obscure Liberty Bowl to end 2013, Mississippi State followed the night win at LSU (that propelled it to No. 12) with home wins over No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 2 Auburn, the latter which vaulted it to No. 1 in the AP and Coaches Poll for the first time ever.
The Bulldogs lost three of their last four games, including at Alabama and Ole Miss in the regular season. The final loss came to Georgia Tech, but it came in the Orange Bowl, where Mississippi State hadn’t been since 1940.
The Bulldogs won 10 games for just the second time in more than 70 years. The 1940s teams were good, but with the spotlight brighter on college football these days, the Bulldogs leading Mississippi Madness was the most exciting time in the school’s football past.