Closing Time

The 2006 football season saw the Mississippi State Bulldogs take some stride towards competing in the SEC once again. The 3-9 Bulldogs were 1-4 in contests decided by a touchdown or less. In 2007 the Bulldogs recorded eight wins thanks in large part to a perfect 4-0 record in games decided by a single score.

After narrow road conference losses to Georgia, Kentucky and Ole Miss in 2006, Bulldog fans were pointing at one or two plays that effected the outcome of those hard fought games.

In 2007 the Bulldogs started executing on those crucial downs and as a result more notches were listed under the win column than losses for the first time since the 2000 season.

The Bulldogs outscored the opposition 80-47 in the final stanza during the turn around season. Outbursts of 21-0 and 17-0 against UAB and Ole Miss respectively were season highs in two Bulldog wins.

When scores were needed to retake or expand a lead, the Bulldog offense responded. Late scores at Auburn and Kentucky gave the Bulldog defense all it needed to salt away a win.

Only three opponents managed to score a 4th quarter touchdown on the Bulldog defense. LSU scored two, South Carolina one and Arkansas one. The MSU defense was able to hold seven of thirteen opponents off of the scoreboard in the game's final 15 minutes.

Perhaps the season's best fourth quarter came against the UAB Blazers. MSU scored on all three fourth quarter offensive possessions, while the Blazers ran just eight fourth quarter plays for a total loss of 13 yards.

In the regular season finale the Bulldog offense tallied 17 come from behind winning points, while Ole Miss was only able to manage 24 yards on 19 plays despite having six fourth quarter possessions.

Kentucky also sent their offense onto the field six times in the fourth quarter and each series ended in a turnover. The stingy Bulldog defense intercepted three Andre Woodson passes, recovered a fumble and snuffed out two fourth down conversion attempts.

The Liberty Bowl produced a similar result for Central Florida. The Knights' three fourth quarter efforts resulted in an interception, a fumble and a turnover on downs.

Perhaps the most celebrated of the defensive efforts was the late red zone stand at Auburn. The Tigers entered the final possession with a collective fourth quarter total of -1 yards on five plays. The Bullies were able to successfully defend their own goal line against four Auburn offensive plays that ended with a Brandon Cox pass falling harmlessly to the Jordan-Hare stadium turf.

In football the margin of victory often boils down to a handful of plays. In 2006, MSU grew to a point that they could recognize those plays that were the difference in winning and losing. In 2007, the Bulldogs made those plays.

Gene's Page Top Stories