Running Over Rebs Lets Dixon Carry The Egg

Sometime Monday afternoon while flying to Jackson, expect Anthony Dixon to suggest his coach provide the Bulldogs with some sort of memento from their 41-27 whipping of Ole Miss. After all, "It was definitely a bowl game," Dixon said. "It was the biggest game, I think it would have been bigger than a bowl game!"

That's a fact. Even if the 2009 season ended with the regular schedule, the Bulldogs concluded it with as enjoyable a triumph as anything the post-season could have offered in Coach Dan Mullen's first year at Mississippi State. And for Dixon himself the victory capped his remarkable MSU career in as fine a style as anyone might have scripted.

The senior running back made his final appearance at Scott Field something to savor in almost every sort of way. Obviously there was his two-yard dash to the corner in the second quarter for Mississippi State's first touchdown—and Dixon's 42 such score, extending his program record. Then there was his 133-yard rushing total on 29 carries, which pushed him past James Johnson's 1998 school season record of 1,383 yards in 13 games. Dixon ended '09 with 1,391 and did it in 11 games, in the process also moving into first place in SEC average rushing this year.

On top of that Dixon pushed his career-rushing record out beyond foreseeable reach at 3,994 remarkable seasons, and if not for a couple of sweep plays that pinned him back of the line he would have become the first Bulldog ever with 4,000 rushing yards. Then there is the matter of Monday's trip to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame where State's Dixon and Ole Miss back/receiver Dexter McCluster are conceded as finalists for the 2009 Conerly Award given to the state's top college player. McCluster had a fine Egg Bowl of his own, with 82 yards rushing and 63 receiving and a touchdown.

But the Rebel senior went to the locker room with the losing team, while Dixon stayed out on Scott Field with teammates and staff to parade the Golden Egg in front of most of the 55,365 who hung around to share in the celebration. And that mattered more to Dixon than any stats and awards…because this really was the best sort of bowl game to conclude his record-rewriting Bulldog career.

Which, Dixon said, ought to be worth at least a t-shirt or something. The Bulldogs' beloved Boobie had a lot more to say as well, which follows:

Q: Last week Coach said the team had a ‘bowl game' to play. Did you treat it like that? "Oh yeah, it was definitely a bowl game. It was the biggest game, you know. I think it would have been bigger than a bowl game, regardless of where we would have been. Because it was them guys from up north, you know? It was intense all week, Coach definitely kept it on our mind and we just went out there and played hard."

Q: Was that fun today? "I had a lot of fun. We beat our rival, I knew a bunch of them dudes over there on the other side, we were talking back and forth all game. It was a lot of fun competing like that, especially with friends. I'm just glad we got the W."

Q: What adjustments were made to the offense at halftime? "The coaches went upstairs and figured out what was going to work. And that was all she wrote, they just started trusting me and giving me the ball. And I got the job done."

Q: On your touchdown did you know you had the pylon? "Yeah, I told them I tipped it! I did felt I got a little tip on it, I don't even think I knocked it down but I think I tipped it. I thought I was good!"

Q: Did you expect Chris to have as much success as he did? "I can't say I expected it, but I'm not surprised. I'm definitely not surprised because we know Chris can do that, we just want Chris to believe he can do that every week and believe he can be that dominant quarterback and go out and do stuff like that. So I'm not surprised."

Q: What made the difference in the third quarter and being able to ram the ball down the field? "I don't know, I think they did lose a little bit of their juice. They came out the first and second quarter with that early-game juice and they were tough to get past, they had two and three people out there. As the game went on they started wearing off and it started being one and two dudes I had to beat, and the running game started getting right."

Q: Were you aware you broke the single-season rushing record? "Oh yeah, they were telling me that after the game. I guess it's just another dream come true. When I saw the record I did want to get it, so me and my O-line worked hard; the whole team, all of them, my scout defense in practice helped me get right during the week and helped the O-line get right during the week. We came out and just did it."

Q: What was best about the game, running over them and feeling you got revenge for last year? "Yeah, just the whole game, the whole feeling from start-to-finish. It was just the crowd excitement, players from out team, their team just pumping me up. It was like a big family game, you know how you get in the back yard and play with your family? That's what it felt like at times. But it was exciting, the crowd was pumped and had us pumped-up, it was one of the loudest games I've ever played in. So I just had fun with it."

Q: How important was it for all these seniors who bought into the new regime to lead the younger guys? "I think it was very important. Like I was telling a bunch of them, we still had room to improve. Last year we had four wins and if we end this year with five it would be an improvement, it would be taking a step, so let's still go out and fight. And everybody bought into it and went out there and fought and made the improvement. So I'm happy, I feel we're improved and I can move on seeing that one year to the next we improved."

Q: Do you think you might rub it in a little with McCluster Monday night? "I don't think I'm going to rub it in on him too much, I don't really know him like that. But if we talk about it we do, if we don't that's fine with me too. I know he had a good game himself and I was definitely watching when he got the ball and he impressed me, he's got good movement with the ball."

Q: Do you think you deserve the award? "Yeah, I do. I would like to have it, because I lost it one time and I was very upset by that. But it'll be alright, it won't make or break my career or where I'm trying to get to. I think I do have bigger goals than the Conerly still set for myself. So if I don't get it I'll just wipe it off and move on, because where I'm at right now I'm still unsatisfied. I want to go to the next level and do the same thing, if not better. I still want to become a better football player and person, so I've still got improvement to go, I'm still going to work. Probably starting Monday next week!"

Q: Is it just as satisfying to walk off with the Golden Egg? "Yeah, that's satisfying to a certain point to have that. But then to go back to Jackson and see my Ole Miss buddies, and it be like ‘what's up this time?!' Last time they talked to me bad, we lost 45 to zip and I caught a lot of stuff when I went home. But this year I can be like ‘what's up man, what's happening?!' That's just going to be fun!"

Q: So will you demand bowl watches? "Yeah, I might start thinking of a couple of little slick things to throw at him! At least a t-shirt, maybe some chains!"

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