Shreveport, Houston likely bowl homes for Dogs, Rebs

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 24, 2000

OXFORD Mississippi State lost the Egg Bowl, but they were all but guaranteed Thursday night a chance at winning another bowl.

Representatives from the Independence Bowl were on hand to scout the game and said either State (7-4, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) or LSU (7-3, 5-2) would be their selection from the Southeastern Conference.

“We like (State). We like their fans, we like their team, we like their coach, we like the whole school,” said Jerry Anderson, a member of the Independence Bowl selection committee.

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The State players greeted the news with mixed emotions. The Bulldogs had a chance to win the SEC West and possibly play in a New Year’s Day bowl, but late collapses against Arkansas and Ole Miss in their last two games ended those thoughts.

“It’s a big swing, to go from a huge bowl, maybe a New Year’s bowl or after that, and then go to the Independence Bowl,” said State free safety Josh Morgan, a former Warren Central star. “But wherever we go, we’re going to be proud and represent Mississippi State the best we can.”

Ole Miss is the leading candidate for the bowl on Dec. 27 in Houston.

Official bowl invitations won’t be extended until after the SEC championship game on Dec. 2, but the Cotton Bowl has reportedly expressed a great deal of interest in LSU. The Tigers were slated to play Arkansas today.

The winner of the SEC title game between Florida and Auburn earns a berth in the Sugar Bowl, while the loser will most likely play in the Citrus Bowl.

The rest of the SEC bowl picture is muddled as five other teams, including Ole Miss, have at least seven wins. The SEC has eight bowl-eligible teams and seven tie-ins, but an eighth SEC team could play in one of several bowls with at-large bids.

One place Ole Miss won’t be playing, however, is in Shreveport. The Rebels have played in the Independence Bowl each of the last two years, and Anderson said the bowl was looking for a new team.

“We would rather have a team that hasn’t been there, and Mississippi State has never been to our bowl,” Anderson said.