The Under-Dawgs

Football fans and lovers of the under-Dawgs everywhere and in every situation.  HERE is a link to a neat little article that appeared in this morning’s Washington Post.  The author, Neely Tucker,  is a third-generation Mississippi State Bulldawg (not to be confused with the much more prosperous and well-regarded Georgia Bulldawgs), and claims he has the liver to prove it. Today, Mississippi State is playing Alabama, and guess which team is No. 1.  Amazingly it is Mississippi State.  Although, that should not be confused with being the favorites in today’s game.  No, Alabama’s Crimson Tide is favored.  This all makes for an exciting matchup which became all the more significant to me after reading the article.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I’m conficent Mr. Tucker enjoyed writing it.  RMF

Mississippi State is playing Alabama, and guess which team is No. 1

Neely Tucker

Neely Tucker

By Neely Tucker November 14, 2014

Heellllloooooo down there, small and tiny people of college football land!

You appear far and wee. Clouds billow by us and we, the Lords of College Football, your very own Mississippi State Bulldogs, sit atop Mt. Footbaw and regard y’all with a clanga-clanga of the cowbell.

No, we don’t know what we’re doing up here, either.

We awoke from a bourbon dream on the back porch after the Auburn game and . . . WHOA, lookit Sportscenter! The top teams in the championship playoff! Hi ’Bama, you’re No. 5! Oregon, you’re No. 2. Defending national champs Florida State? You’re No. 3.  

And. We. Are. Number. One.

AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Us! The worst team in SEC history! The poorest program in the league! The team other SEC fans sometimes call to be kicked out of the conference as a disgrace! From Starkville, mockingly known as Starkvegas! Dear old Moo U, Missy State, the Udder School, the Leg Humpers!

Mississippi State Cowbells

Mississippi State Cowbells

In all our maroon-and-white, town overalls and cowbell-ringing glory. Las Vegas rated us at 95-1 to win the national title when the season started. Now it’s 7.5-1.

And today, America, Starkvegas offers you the chance to jump on the cow-college bandwagon!

We play the Dark Lords of Mordor, also known as the Alabama Crimson Tide, in their pit of hellfire and brimstone, Tuscaloosa. We’re nearly 10-point underdogs, but that’s a joke.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 9.17.26 AM

“…break their hearts and show no mercy.”

Charles Dickens in Great Expectations

’Bama, one of college football’s geunine aristocrats, spends more than three times on football than we do. They have beaten us six times in a row by a combined score of 175-46. In 98 previous meetings, we’ve won just 18. They’ve won 4,358 national titles (or something). We ain’t won any.

The last year any team won at LSU and at ’Bama in the same season was 1957. We beat LSU in Death Valley a few weeks ago.

Can you spell “doom”?

But would you like to hear the beat-all Cinderella story? Would you like to throw reason, logic and a century of football history to the wind and root for the underpuppy of underpuppies?

You would?

Never tell us the odds
Remember in “Braveheart,” when Mel Gibson is riding a horse in a kilt with no underwear on and he’s painted his face blue, screaming incoherently about fighting impossible odds for the chance to win this one day?

That is, spiritually speaking, Mississippi State football.

We first played the game in 1895 and went 0-2, getting outscored 37-0. The first three times we played ’Bama, we got beat by a combined 92-0. Maybe we should have known that being the ag school in the poorest state in America was not going to go so well.

But we were crazy about the pigskin and joined the SEC as a founding member in 1933, signing up to play larger, better-funded schools year in and year out.

Since then, we are nearly 200 games below .500 in the league. We could go undefeated in SEC West play for the next 20 years and still have a losing record against the division.

Sometimes it has seemed the gods conspire against us.

In 1983, we were kicking a chip-shot field goal to beat Ole Miss, our hated rival. When the ball was two yards short of the goal post, a gust of wind sent it straight up in the air like it was going up a chimney chute . . . and then blew it backward. It is known as “The Immaculate Deflection.”

We have won the SEC exactly one time, and that was when the Japanese were getting ready to bomb Pearl Harbor.

And you know what? We just don’t care.

We sell out games when we have losing seasons. Most of our players are from tiny towns in Mississippi. We have the second-highest ratio of in-state players in the land. They’re mostly overlooked and undervalued guys lining up against future NFL prospects, and we love them even if we know they’re outgunned.

Me? My people have lived in Mississippi for more than 170 years. My parents have had season tickets — 48-yard-line, halfway up, East side — for four decades. In 2005, I was back home when ’Bama beat us, 17-0, but did so without scoring an offensive touchdown. Near the end of the game, when the defense stopped ’Bama for the final time, the faithful arose in a standing ovation — for a team that was shut out and beaten by three scores.

The late and much-loved Jack Cristil was State’s radio broadcaster for 58 years. I once asked him about seeing so much gridiron carnage. He said, “Most of the time you come to the stadium, you know you’re going to lose. But sometimes you win. You live for the ‘sometimes.’ ”

Welcome aboard
This fall has featured more “sometimes” than ever. So this is your day, America, to cheer for the littlest and the least. This may be the last day in life you get to say “Mississippi State is No. 1” and not be institutionalized.

Could we actually win?

In 1980, we played Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide. They had won the national title two years in a row and were riding a 28-game winning streak. State clung to a 6-3 lead late, but ’Bama drove to a first and goal on the State four with 25 seconds remaining. The quarterback came right on the option, got smacked and fumbled. We recovered. Bedlam.

I was working in a grocery store in Starkvegas that day. People sat in their cars in the parking lot during the fourth quarter, doors open, listening to Cristil, waiting to see if we might actually beat the Bear. It was like time stopped.

So, Alabama, today the smart money says y’all will win. But since we’ve never been long on either, we are driving 82 miles east on Highway 82 to, as my friend Bob likes to say, drink your whiskey, kiss your women and BEAT YOUR DAMN FOOTBALL TEAM.

Because you do remember the last team to win at both LSU and ’Bama in the same season, don’t you?

Clanga-clanga, baby.

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About ronfurg

Former naval officer, federal investigator, forensic scientist, senior executive service member and pastor. In retirement serves as volunteer and life group leader at New Life Christian Church (www.newlife4me.com). Devoted to beautiful wife, kids and grandkids. Looking forward to the time when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
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