Mississippi State anxious for decision on bowl game|[11/26/07]

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 26, 2007

From Jeff Byrd

STARKVILLE — Mississippi State will be bowling this postseason, but where still remains a mystery.

It appears that the Bulldogs, who improved to 7-5 by beating Ole Miss on Friday, will either be headed to the Music City Bowl in Nashville, the Liberty Bowl in Memphis or the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. A decision will come by Sunday as to where and against whom the Bulldogs will play.

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The bowl standing improved after Adam Carlson capped a 17-point fourth quarter with a game-winning 49-yard field goal to beat the Rebels.

“That fourth quarter was not about football, but what is inside a young man’s heart. The only reason we won that game was because what is inside of those young men,” MSU coach Sylvester Croom said. “I have said from the very beginning, until we get character we are not going to win, now we have character and have added talent to it. Next year will be a continued quest to win our conference championship.”

For now, MSU is happy with its first bowl bid in seven years.

“Obviously, they would be our pick of the 7-5 teams in the SEC,” Liberty Bowl President Bill Ray said. “Of course, we can’t make a deal today, but Mississippi State certainly made a lot of friends with the Liberty Bowl.”

Croom said he will not follow legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant’s take on bowl games.

“I played in four bowl games when I played for Alabama and every one of them was miserable. I’m going to make sure this is going to be fun for these kids,” Croom said.

“We’ll get together next week and then have what we call our normal Tuesday practice. They have exams next week, so we’ll be off. Then we’ll start working for the bowl game. We’ll do all the main work here on campus. The game plan will be in before we get to the game site.”

The fact that State is going bowling in Croom’s fourth year is a surprise. The Bulldogs had won no more than three games in his previous three years.

“Actually, I think we’re a little ahead of schedule. I really thought we’d have a winning season next year. The reason I thought that way, is because I didn’t know we could do it with a freshman quarterback. That’s incredible. But now, not only do we have Wesley Carroll back but a lot of other good players coming back as well,” Croom said.

Carroll looked bad for three quarters, completing just 4 of 12 passes for 28 yards. He improved in the fourth quarter, hitting on 9 of 16 passes for 102 yards and a TD.

“We were able to get something going, and with the atmosphere in the stadium, it was great to be a part of this comeback,” Carroll said.

Conerly Trophy finalist Titus Brown, a senior defensive end, said the rally showed what the Bulldogs are made of.

“We kept our composure and made plays at the end,” Brown said.

He will join running back Anthony Dixon in Jackson on Tuesday as one of three finalists for the award which goes to the top college football player in Mississippi. Southern Miss running back Damion Fletcher is the other finalist.