Super Saturday shines bright light on state

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This Saturday marks the biggest day in Mississippi history since the invention of the honey bun.

In just four short afternoons, the eye of college football will be pegged squarely on the Hospitality State as Ole Miss and Mississippi State attempt to end years of wandering in the wilderness with a chance to burst out of the woods on a national stage.

The prayers of so many seersucker suits have been answered, as The Grove will play host to Corso, Herbstreit and the rest of the gang with “College GameDay” visiting for the first time in school history. It’s a reward for the Rebels’ fast 4-0 start, the first time Ole Miss has been undefeated through four games since Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was the No. 1 song in America. Hugh Freeze’s squad will take on No. 3 Alabama, the annual litmus test for SEC West contenders and machine-like executioner of “The Process” that embarrassed Freeze’s vaunted offense a year ago.

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Just 100 miles south down U.S. 45, No. 12 Mississippi State sits at an equal 4-0. “SEC Nation,” the SEC Network’s feeble answer to GameDay, will slide down to Starkville with Paul Finebaum and Tim Tebow setting up shop to discuss the Bulldogs’ chances at beating Texas A&M. The game is an early 11 a.m. start, but you can bet your overalls there will be more Budweiser tops being popped that morning than breakfast on a Kid Rock cruise.

Mississippi’s SEC schools haven’t been ranked in the Top 15 together since 1958. We were still 11 years away from landing on the moon the last time these two were this good. They’ve never, since this country has been throwing around a weird brown ball for fun, both been 4-0 at the same time. Then again, Ole Miss and Mississippi State have only been playing football at the same time for 119 years.

People from Gulfport to Iuka will be cramming their cars full of whiskey and hot dogs and ibuprofen to make the trek to their respective campus destinations — half to sip bourbon under a chandelier in a Sunday dress, half to drink mimosas under a maroon tent in blue jeans and a Bulldog polo.

The state of Mississippi will be rocking like grandpa’s front porch chair Saturday with these two matchups and the pomp and circumstance that will follow them. The Mississippi schools that have combined for exactly one SEC Championship Game appearance are now both firmly entrenched in the hunt for one with the entire college football world watching. The party is going to be one for the history books.

No matter what side of the aisle you sit on when things unfold Saturday won’t matter. Just as long as you’re taking communion at the Church of Mississippi Football.

Cory Gunkel is a reporter. He can be reached at 601-636-4545, Ext. 178, or by email at