Mississippi State football: Top 10 moments that defined the decade
Ten years. Ten bowls.
Only 5 SEC teams can say that this decade. Mississippi State is on the list.
The Bulldogs enjoyed a historic decade. Three times they finished in the Top 25 — matching their best for any decade in program history, and 2 of those seasons ended with a top 15 ranking.
They’ve already won 6 bowl games, with another opportunity looming. Before Dan Mullen, the Bulldogs won just 7 bowls in their history.
All of which is to say every season provided plenty of memorable moments. Here are 10 from the decade that stand out.
10. Dan Mullen stays in Starkville
Let’s start by giving Dan Mullen another round of applause.
None of the 2010s success happens without him. And there were plenty of times when it looked like the Bulldogs might have to find out.
Pick an offseason, any offseason, because after leading the Bulldogs to 4 consecutive bowl games to open the decade, Mullen became part of just about every coaching rumor for the next 5 seasons. He stayed true to State until …
9. Dan Mullen finally leaves Starkville
Who knows how serious any of the previous flirtations were. But after the 2017 season, when Florida struck out on other candidates, it turned to Mullen, its former offensive coordinator. Finally, Mullen found a job good enough to leave the program he built.
He left Mississippi State with 69 wins — just 5 behind career leader Jackie Sherrill. Mullen’s 5 bowl wins are the most in program history.
8. 2011 Egg Bowl
The Bulldogs’ 31-3 victory was memorable for at least 3 reasons:
- It was their 3rd consecutive Egg Bowl win, their longest winning streak since the 1940s.
- The 28-point victory margin was their largest since winning 33-0 in 1919.
- It clinched the Bulldogs’ 2nd consecutive bowl bid.
7. Dak Prescott throws for 508 yards vs. Arkansas
It’s almost unbelievable now, but in 2015, Arkansas had a prolific offense.
The Hogs led the Bulldogs 42-30 entering the 4th quarter before Prescott rallied State for an improbable 51-50 win.
Prescott threw 5 TD passes, including 2 in the 4th quarter. He added a pair of TD runs — meaning he accounted for all 7 TDs the Bulldogs scored. In the process, he became the 1st SEC player in history to amass 550 total yards and 7 TDs in a single game.
6. 2016 Egg Bowl
Mississippi State won the Egg Bowl 6 times this decade. It never had a better time in Oxford than it did over Thanksgiving weekend in 2016.
Nick Fitzgerald ran for a school-record 258 yards as State rolled to a 55-20 victory.
The 55 points were the most against Ole Miss since scoring 65 in 1915.
The 35-point victory margin remains their largest ever in Oxford.
5. Dan Mullen stands by Jeffery Simmons
Mullen and the Bulldogs welcomed 5-star defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons not long after a video leaked showing Simmons, then in high school, assaulting a woman.
The incident was ugly. The backlash was immediate and vociferous.
Mullen stood his ground. He told everybody willing to listen that Simmons was a good kid who made a mistake, not a repeat offender. Simmons was suspended briefly but became a role model at Mississippi State. He garnered All-American honors and became a 1st-round draft pick, but he rewarded Mullen’s faith mostly by becoming a 2-time All-SEC Academic selection.
4. Ole Miss pisses away 2019 Egg Bowl
There’s really no other way to say it.
Ole Miss had just scored in the final seconds and needed only an extra point to force OT. The Rebels’ goal of ending Mississippi State’s 9-year bowl streak was very much alive … right until Elijah Moore celebrated his TD by pretending to pee like a Bulldog.
First came the penalty, then came the missed extra point.
Just like that, Mississippi State’s bowl streak stretched to 10.
3. Dak Prescott finished 8th in 2014 Heisman voting
Prescott did it all in Starkville. By the time he left, he owned 38 school records.
His best year was his junior season in 2014, when he led MSU to the top of the polls and was considered a Heisman favorite for much of the season.
He finished 8th — the highest finish ever for a Mississippi State player.
2. Mississippi State rises to No. 1 in AP Poll in 2014
The Bulldogs were 6-0 and rose to No. 1 in the AP poll for the 1st time in program history. In consecutive games, they took out No. 8 LSU, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 2 Auburn. It only got better because 2 weeks later …
1. Mississippi State rises to No. 1 in inaugural Playoff poll
The Playoff format was new and nobody knew what to expect when the Selection Committee revealed its 1st set of rankings.
Would it mirror the AP poll? Would it reward reigning champion Florida State, which still hadn’t lost a game?
The Bulldogs debuted at No. 1 and stayed there for 2 more weeks to set up arguably the biggest game in the program’s modern history: No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 5 Alabama. The winner would be in position to win the West and possibly clinch a Playoff spot. Alabama held on and rose to No. 1. Mississippi State slipped to No. 4.