Starkville Provides Contrast

Sights and sounds from a sunny Saturday in Starkville, Miss., where the grass is a little greener, the leaves have a little more color, the Mississippi State football team often loses and the Bulldogs basketball team is smarting from a 74-63 loss to Winthrop.

First, there was the yowl of a leather-lunged Arkansas fan, who reminded the locals in ear-splitting fashion every few steps of his way to the top of Davis Wade Stadium, "We're Hawgs! You're 'Dawgs!" One Bulldogs fan finally had enough and returned a two-word epithet in the UA man's direction. The MSU man's wife chastised her husband for his language. The UA fan, already feeling no pain before 1 p.m., began shouting attributes that his team had and Mississippi State did not have. A demure woman wearing a small Bulldogs pin said softly to herself, "At least we have class." That point had been up for debate earlier inside a van full of visiting reporters, who had been transferred from a previous van because that rental vehicle's keys had been misplaced. "Hey, it's Starkville," came the matter-of-fact response from one who had visited many times before. The line got repeated when we were shunted less than cordially from a previous media parking area before we found this year's, which was the same as four years ago before they changed it two years ago. At least the stadium's elevator operator was nice. He'd been married for 44 years to the same woman and said so, proudly. "Man, we'd take just one of Arkansas' running backs and then maybe it would be a closer game," the man said. As it turned out, Arkansas needed all of its backs just to rush for 128 yards, compared to Mississippi State's 154 rushing yards. This thing would be a 'Dawgfight, as it always is in what many refer to as "Starksville." Keith Jackson Sr., the Arkansas radio analyst, sensed before kickoff, "This is gonna be tough. You gotta just win games like this and get out of town." It's already been a long season. The over-achieving Razorbacks have played seven straight weeks, and now have a shorter time to get ready for an LSU team that boasts 50 wins in the last five seasons. "I'm pretty sore," admitted Hogs quarterback Casey Dick after Arkansas' 28-14 win on Saturday. "But we've got (Sunday) to get better." Grant Hall is a Morning News Sports Writer. His column appears each Monday and Thursday. E-Mail: Ghall@nwaonline.net

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