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SMITH COLUMN: Bulldogs not on bowl radar without a win

November 13, 2011

Sports Editor

Chick-fil-A Bowl representative Rod Hovater would like for Mississippi State to get on the board for consideration for the Atlanta event in late December.
In order for that to happen, the Bulldogs have to win at least one more game and more than likely two to have the chance to reach that type of bowl.
MSU didn't get one Saturday night as it lost a 24-7 decision to the Alabama Crimson Tide, but the Bulldogs sure showed Hovater, who was in attendance at the game, they could play good football at times.
Mississippi State put up a good fight against the fourth-ranked team in the nation, but just couldn't get enough going offensively to get the upset. Alabama's defense is really good.
With the loss, the Bulldogs saw their record drop to 5-5. Even if MSU won the next two, it would only be 7-5 and not good enough for the Chick-fil-A or any of the higher level postseason games.
Still, Hovater is fond of the Bulldogs from the Magnolia State.
MSU has made three appearances in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, most recently in 1999 when the Bulldogs defeated Clemson 17-7.
"We've had good experiences with Mississippi State," Hovater said. "The fans are great and the team always comes in strong. In fact, Mississippi State played in the first game we played in the (Georgia) Dome and that was a loud crowd. We like Mississippi State because of the fans and the athletes they bring through the program."
Hovater must have really liked what he saw on Saturday as the second-largest crowd in MSU history of 57,871 filled Davis Wade Stadium.
No matter how many people watch, the bottom line is how the Bulldogs play on the field.
Usually, the Chick-fil-A Bowl takes the loser of the Southeastern Conference Championship Game and MSU isn't anywhere close to that with a 1-5 conference mark.
The Bulldogs just need to figure out how to get one more win, either against Arkansas in Little Rock next week or against Ole Miss at home on Nov. 26 to make a bowl in back-to-back seasons.
With six or seven wins, the most likely destination for MSU will be the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 31.
The most disappointing aspect of the game for the Bulldogs against the Tide was the inability to run the football.
Again, Alabama is good defensively, but State can't be limited to 12 yards on the ground and expect to win.
If the Bulldogs don't show more life offensively, then it will be a struggle for them to win and get that much-needed sixth victory.

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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