Is Mississippi Now The Mecca Of College Football?

It was as if someone placed a stick of dynamite to last week’s Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll and scattered these elite undefeated teams to places far from where they sat before last week’s games.

Five of the top eight teams in the rankings suffered upset losses for the first time since the poll went to 25 spots back in 1989. And it was only the second time in the 78-year history of the AP Poll that four of the top six teams lost.

No. 2 Oregon started the disarray of last week’s poll by losing 31-24 to unranked Arizona Thursday night and fell 10 places to No. 12 in this week’s poll.

Third place Alabama had its hopes of another national championship momentarily dashed when No. 11 Ole Miss rallied in the fourth period and pulled off an impressive 23-17 win. The Rebels were rewarded for their performance by moving up to a tie for third place in this week’s AP Poll.

And the Rebels’ fiercest rival—the 12th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs—pummeled No. 6 Texas A&M 48-31 in Starkville Saturday afternoon and moved into a tie with Ole Miss at No. 3 while dropping the Aggies  eight slots to No. 14.

The No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners, who may have been looking ahead to their traditional meeting with the Texas Longhorns on Saturday, went nip-and-tuck with No. 25 TCU and ended up getting nipped 37-33 by the feisty Horned Frogs. TCU catapulted 16 places to No. 9 while the Sooners dropped to No. 11.

Eighth-ranked UCLA dropped 10 spots after losing at home to unranked Utah, 30-28. The 4-1 Utes moved onto this week’s poll at No. 24.

Three of this week’s top five teams escaped the Upset Bug last weekend as top-ranked Florida State steamrolled Wake Forest 43-3 to maintain its No. 1 position this week.   

Auburn whipped No. 15 LSU 41-7 and bumped up three places to No. 2 while the Bayou Bengals dropped out of the poll completely and No. 7 Baylor stymied the Texas Longhorns 28-7 and moved up two notches in this week’s poll to No. 5.

However, most of the headlines last weekend belonged to the two Southeastern Conference teams from the Magnolia State—Ole Miss and Mississippi State. They both skyrocketed from No. 11 and 12, respectively, to a tie for the No. 3 position this week as SEC football in the state of Mississippi has never been better.

It’s the first time they have been in the top five together and the best-ever ranking for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs previous best was No. 7 in 1981 and their only SEC championship came back in 1941. Ole Miss hasn’t been ranked this high since 1963 when they also were No. 3 and won their last SEC title.

But the celebration of their good fortune could be short-lived for both Mississippi schools as they both face ranked teams Saturday and are both early-week underdogs. Mississippi State is a three-point underdog at home against No. 2 Auburn, while Ole Miss travels to College Station to meet the No. 14 Texas Aggies, who are favored by 2½ points.

I don’t know what the odds are for both Ole Miss and Mississippi State remaining undefeated when the two rivals meet in the final game of the regular season the day after Thanksgiving on Nov. 29, but it certainly can’t be any more exciting for their fans than it is right now.

Perhaps Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said it best Sunday when he told the Associated Press, “The reward in the SEC of winning a huge game is you get another one next week.”

That’s especially true this week for both the Ole Miss Rebels and the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

KWICKIES…A quick look at this week’s AP Top 25 College Football Poll still has Florida State No. 1, No. 2 Auburn 3. tie Mississippi and Mississippi State 5. Baylor 6. Notre Dame 7. Alabama 8. Michigan State 9. TCU 10. Arizona was unranked last week along with No. 20 Arizona State, No. 22 Georgia Tech and No. 24 Utah.

I can’t believe that Houston Texans’ new head coach Bill O’Brien was livid about the mistakes his team made in Sunday’s 20-17 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys. I’m livid over the stupid decision he made in overtime when he called for a pass play on a third-and-two from the Dallas 48 yard line. Arian Foster was running wild around that juncture of the game and should have kept the drive alive with one of his patented runs. Instead the pass misfired, the Texans punted and Dallas got into field goal position for Dan Bailey, who won the game with a 49-yard field goal.

The two underdogs of the American League Divisional Series—Kansas City and Baltimore—will face each other for the right to play in the World Series after sweeping the Los Angeles Angels and the Detroit Tigers, respectively in three straight games in last week’s best-of-five series. The wild-card Royals haven’t been in the playoffs since 1985 and will face the Orioles Friday night in Baltimore. The NLDS at this writing was still trying to determine winners between San Francisco-Washington and LA Dodgers-St. Louis. The Giants won an 18-inning game Saturday night 2-1 on a home run by first baseman Brandon Belt, who went to Hudson High School in Lufkin and lead the series 2-0 going into Monday night’s game in San Francisco. The Dodgers and Cardinals series was tied 1-1 going into Monday night’s game in St. Louis.

Putting his swimming career on hold after his second DUI arrest, Olympic champion Michael Phelps began a six-week rehab program this week. Phelps was arrested last Tuesday and charged with drunken driving in his native Baltimore after failing a series of field sobriety tests with a blood-alcohol content of 0.14 per cent, well above the legal limit of 0.08.

Dallas Cowboys’ running back DeMarco Murray rushed for 136 yards on 31 carries Sunday against the Houston Texans which was his fifth consecutive 100-yard game. He joins Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson as the only players in NFL history to start a season with five 100-yard games in a row.

I got to play with the Kroger’s team in the Orange Christian Services four-person scramble Saturday morning at Sunset Grove Country Club in Orange. I felt like a B-B gun among three howitzers, but we finished second in the tournament with a nine-under-par 62. I was playing with Orange Kroger’s store manager Matt Hall, Tyler Smith from the Beaumont Kroger’s and his dad Clay Smith.

After watching Orange’s Earl Thomas lead his Seattle Seahawks’ team to a Monday Night Football victory, as a bonus we will get to watch him again Sunday afternoon at 3:25 p.m. on Fox when the Seahawks play the 4-1 Dallas Cowboys in Seattle.

JUST BETWEEN US…If you’ve ever been fishing and caught and undersized fish or one considered a “trash fish” and put it back in the water only to catch another just like it and swear it must be the same fish you just caught, take heed. I was fishing in a bayou off Lake Sabine last Wednesday and hooked a redfish that was peeling line off my reel like crazy. I finally started working it toward the boat where Bob Hood was waiting with the net. But the fish snapped my 15-pound test line about 10 feet from the boat. Not more than five minutes later the same thing happened to Bob who hooked a huge redfish and fought it more smartly than I did. When I netted the monster, lo and behold, there were two hooks in his mouth, Bob’s and the red-tipped one I had been using. After measuring the redfish at over 32 inches, (which was past the 20-28 inch slot limit) Bob nursed it back to health and watched it swim away.