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SMITH COLUMN: Former Bulldogs make Super Bowl interesting

February 3, 2013

Smith

You can chose to focus on the Jim and John Harbaugh, the first two brothers to coach against each other in a Super Bowl.

You can look at Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, who plays his last game in the National Football League today after announcing his retirement plans prior to the playoffs.

First-time Super Bowl quarterbacks in Joe Flacco of the Ravens and Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers have gotten some attention this week.

There's plenty of story lines available when it comes to the hype that surrounds any Super Bowl.

For those who follow Mississippi State football closely, there's a particular reason to tune into tonight's big game on WCBI.

A former Bulldog can be found on each roster of the two participating teams.

Anthony Dixon, MSU's all-time leading rusher, plays for San Francisco. There is a profile of Dixon and his anticipation of the Super Bowl by Starkville Daily News State beat writer Ben Wait on this page.

Also, there's Baltimore defensive end Pernell McPhee, who played for the Bulldogs in 2009-10. A story about McPhee's journey from Pahokee High School in Florida to Itawamba Community College to Mississippi State, then to the Ravens could be found within the pages of the SDN sports section last week.

Dixon has had limited opportunities on offense for the 49ers. He mainly plays on special teams. McPhee has played a little bit more for Baltimore, but a thigh injury has kept him off the field at times.

If one or both can get onto the field inside the Louisiana Superdome tonight and contribute to their team in some way, it's sure to be a thrill for them and will cause some conversation around here for sure.

Even former Bulldogs have taken the opportunity to talk some smack back and forth this week.

When asked about playing against Dixon, McPhee said, "We're enemies right now. If I get the opportunity on the field, I'm going to try and bust him up. I know he's going to try and bust me up."

Dixon called McPhee "his little brother," which seems interesting because McPhee is a pretty big guy and the two were roommates for one year at MSU.

That still didn't prevent Dixon from taking his own shot at McPhee.

"One thing I'm going to tell him when I see him on the sideline, is 'I'm going to kick his butt,'" Dixon said. "We aren't going to be with friends when we get out there."

That's how much winning a Super Bowl means to those who are fortunate enough to make it to the big game. Those opportunities don't come around very often and taking advantage of it is of the utmost priority.

There's another Mississippi State connection to the Super Bowl that some may or may not know about.

Steve Freeman, who played for the Bulldogs from 1972-74, will be an alternate official for today's game.

Freeman will get his chance to step on the field for duty if one of the other officials get an injury or some other situation happens that would prevent someone from continuing in the game.

This has a chance to be another close and competitive Super Bowl. That seems to be the way people like it and CBS wants that for the sake of the television ratings.

As for as a winner, it's really a difficult decision. On paper, the 49ers seem to be the most talented team, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the Ravens come out on top.

San Francisco has had its problems in the kicking game this season, but that's not enough to prevent me from giving it the edge over Baltimore 31-28.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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