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MSU sports on the upswing!

The MSU sports scene saw MSU football defeat Mississippi on Thanksgiving night. The men's basketball team also won 4 games during an eight day span, while the women's basketball team defeated the number 22nd ranked Maryland team at Ames, Iowa. All in all a great week for MSU sports.

MSU football

Before a Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field record crowd of 51,112, Mississippi State defeated the Rebels of Mississippi 36-28 behind the arm of sophomore sensation quarterback Kevin Fant.

Mississippi sophomore quarterback Eli Manning came into this game as the quarterback with all the hype but due to a swarming Mississippi State defense led by junior linebacker Mario Haggan and sophomore linebacker Kamau Jackson, Manning completed just 16 of 36 passes and threw 3 interceptions. Prior to the game, he had only thrown 3 interceptions the entire season. In the meantime, Mississippi State's own sophomore quarterback Kevin Fant completed 14 of 21 pass attempts for 263 yards and 1 touchdown to win the battle of the sophomore quarterbacks.

Did you know that Eli Manning led the nation in TD-TO-INT ratio coming into the game? Prior to the game, he had a ratio of 8.3 touchdowns to every one interception he threw. Second best is BYU's Brandon Doman, a player that Mississippi State's defense will face this coming Saturday. Brandon has a 5.2-1 ratio.

Did you also know that Mississippi's offensive line has had the same starter at every position for all their games but one? During the Georgia game, Bello started in place of Buckles. And you wonder why the Rebels' offense has been been so successful this season. What I wouldn't give to see how good our quarterbacks would have been with a line that was able to play together for the entire year.

While this game could have been called the battle of the sophomore quarterbacks, not to be overlooked was the fact that much-heralded Mississippi wide receiver Chris Collins was also one-upped by Mississippi State wide receiver Justin Jenkins. Justin, with 28 catches coming into the game, caught 7 passes for 116 yards with a long of 45 yards, while Chris, who had 45 receptions coming into the game, caught 6 passes for 110 yards with a long of 37 yards. Justin, after having a very tough first half of the season, has come on strong of late and now looks like the wide receiver that the MSU coaches felt he could be all along.

Since we are talking offense, Mississippi State's leading rusher for the game, Dicenzo Miller, out-gained Mississippi's leading rusher, Joe Gunn, 121 yards to 86 yards.

Give Mississippi State a three for three on the offensive side of the ball. Give a huge thank you to the Mississippi State offensive line of Derrick Thompson, Courtney Lee, Blake Jones, Tommy Watson and Kenric Fairchild. They, along with fullback Darnell Jones, dominated the Mississippi defensive line.

And to think, some of you continue to ask me if we will keep our commitments from signing with Mississippi. I believe a better question would be to ask are the Mississippi commitments going to stick with Mississippi over Mississippi State? Remember, Mississippi's top commitments Jay Kirkland and Chris Herring are still looking at Mississippi State.

What can you say about the Mississippi State defense? Give them tremendous credit for doing what no other team has been able to do this season and that is causing Eli Manning to make mistakes during the quarter he has been at his best, the fourth quarter. Prior to last Thursday's game, Eli had a passing efficiency rating of 176.53 in the fourth quarter, 22.56 points better than in any other quarter of play in regulation. He had completed 46-of-69 passes and thrown for 612 yards and 8 touchdowns to 1 interception in the fourth quarter. During the fourth quarter of the Mississippi State game, he was 4-of-15 with 48 yards and 3 interceptions. Hats off to the defensive players and coaches.

With both of our quarterbacks being sophomores, we have a lot to look forward to during the next two Egg Bowls.

MSU men's basketball

Mississippi State's men's basketball continues to impress. After winning their first three home games without three key players, Roy Goffer, Michael Ignerski and Timmy Bowers, Mississippi State went on the road and defeated a tough-to-beat-at-home team, UL-Lafayette, 79-71. One of the three missing players, Michael Ignerski, was able to play after having to sit out a NCAA mandated three-game foreign player ruling.

Like Roy Goffer, Ignerski played on a foreign club that was considered to be a pro team. Both players, like so many other foreign players throughout the country, had to sit out a certain number of games prior to being eligible to play this season. Goffer has 4 more games that he will have to sit out before he will be able to play.

Behind the excellent play of senior Marckell Patterson and sophomore Mario Austin, Mississippi State has started off the season 4-0 for the first time since the 1998-1999 season. That season they won their first 8 games. On the season, Patterson is averaging a team-leading 23.8 point per game, while Austin is averaging 17.5 points per game after averaging 7.9 points per game last season.

The Bulldogs play at home this week beginning with a 7 p.m. Wednesday game against Alabama A&M and finishing with a 2 p.m. Sunday game against South Alabama.

The Bulldogs first big test of the season will be a week from Wednesday when they play the Richmond Spiders at Richmond.

MSU women's basketball

Not to be overshadowed is the success of the women's basketball team. After winning their first three games of the year, the Lady Bulldogs gave the number 6th ranked Iowa Cyclones all they wanted until the last few minutes of the game, losing 87-74.

The Lady Bulldogs earned the right to play the Iowa team in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament by defeating the number 22nd ranked Maryland Terrapins 81-71.

While everybody knows about Mississippi State's pre-season All-American LaToya Thomas, freshman sensation Tan White is showing why she was a Parade All-American her senior year in high school. During the first four games she has averaged 19.3 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game, both second on the team. She leads the team in assists with 19 (4.8 per game) and steals.

The Lady Bulldogs next home game is this Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Memphis.

With the football team playing at home on Saturday and the men's basketball team playing at home on Wednesday and Sunday and the women's basketball team playing at home on Tuesday, this week is a great week to show your support for the Bulldogs. See you at the games!

Recruiting update

Mississippi State football had three official visitors in this past weekend, Pasadena City College pre-season All-American quarterback Nathan Chandler and City College of San Francisco quarterback Orlando Evans and center Travis McGee. I talked to two of the three on the phone Sunday. Chandler said he really enjoyed his visit and has Mississippi State at the top of his list, while McGee said his visit was ok. He didn't seem very enthusiastic about his visit. Both players plan on taking at least one more visit, with Chandler visiting Iowa the weekend of December 7-9 and McGee visiting Cincinnati the same weekend. Chandler said that would probably be his last visit, although UCLA is still talking to him. Chandler said he has been offered a scholarship by the Bulldog staff, while it appears that McGee has not been offered as of yet. I was not able to get in touch with Evans.

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Well, that wraps up this week's edition of the Monday Morning Bulldog Coffee Break.

Have a great Bulldog week.

Gene Swindoll

Archived Monday Morning Coffee Break Articles:
Nov. 19, 2001
Nov. 12, 2001
Nov. 7, 2001

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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