Thursday, September 3, 2009
Behind The Scoreboard
Last week the collegiate pre-season polls came out and the Ole Miss Rebels were ensconced well within the Top 10. Actually, they were number 8 in some venues. Please hold your applause, folks. Don’t get nervous all of you non Rebels fans. Before you accuse moi of undue loyalty to the ole alma mater, this article is not about coach Houston Nutt and the University of Mississippi program. However, it is something to crow about since the school’s football team has not been ranked this high in almost four decades in a pre-season poll.
Surprise, surprise, surprise. This offering is all about the Bullies and the Tigers – the Bulldogs of Mississippi State University and the Jackson State University Tigers. The two are scheduled to meet head-on in a history-making game Saturday at Wade Stadium in Starkville. The schools play in two different conferences in the Mid-South. The former, in the best conference in the nation, the SEC, and the latter in the SWAC.
Head coach Rick Comegy and his Tigers are starting the season with a most daunting task – four tough games right off the bat. Their starts for the last two seasons have been sort of rocky. In 2007 they went 0-2 and just last year they were 1-4. As mentioned already, the Bullies will be a concrete obstacle and they will follow that with another severe test a week later at Memphis against their perennial opponent, Tennessee State Tigers, in the 20th staging of the Southern Heritage Classic. The Tigers of Tennessee have beaten the JSU Cats six consecutive years, including the 41-18 drubbing last season on September 14. JSU had jumped out to a 10-0 lead before the other Tigers bared the claws and fangs.
In a press conference early in August, Coach Comegy alluded to the formidable task but stated that it was just another challenge which the team had to face. Challenge could be a soft word since JSU’s third opponent will be Grambling State. Those Tigers whipped the JSU Tigers for the SWAC Championship 41-9 last December 13.
The Bulldogs haven’t fared all that well the last few years either. They have had some lean seasons with the one bright spot a Liberty Bowl victory over Central Florida of C-USA in 2007 under former coach Sylvester Croom. The Bullies have a new top ’Dog in Dan Mullen, first appearance as a head coach in the SEC. Mullen has had some difficulty in getting his crew to run his preferred spread option offense.
This game will dredge up memories of the history-making game some years ago when the Tigers traveled south to meet the Golden Eagles of Southern University in Hattiesburg. That game was the largest grossing game of a collegiate contest in Mississippi between two state teams.
Indications are that this one will completely fill the 55,000-plus seating capacity at Davis Wade.
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