Mississippi State nationally ranked after long absence

Mississippi State is ranked for the first time in nine years.

The Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2 SEC) are No. 24 in the country according to both the Associated Press voters and the coaches. The last time they were in the top 25 was the third week of the 2001 season, but that didn’t last long: After being voted the 17th-best team in the nation, MSU lost five in a row and finished the season 3-8.

MSU has won four in a row, most recently edging then-No. 22 Florida on Saturday, 10-7, in Gainesville. The Gators (4-3) have dropped out of the rankings.

When Mississippi State arrived back on campus a little after 1 a.m. Sunday morning, a throng of fans awaited to celebrate with the Bulldogs.

Coach Dan Mullen said the “wild scene” was a great experience and a first during his time with the Bulldogs.

“We’re going to enjoy this win, but we need to be a much better football team,” Mullen said. “There’s no secret about it. We didn’t cross the finish line with a win over Florida. But maybe this was the second jolt of energy to keep us going.”

Mullen’s charge is to make sure his team keeps a level head, but he’s also quick to say the Bulldogs’ victory over Florida was no fluke. The Bulldogs won in The Swamp for the first time since 1965, breaking a 16-game losing streak.

“It shouldn’t have been as close as it was,” Mullen said. “We made mistakes early and we made mistakes late. We shouldn’t have had to make that stop on the final drive.”

MSU’s two losses have come to Auburn (17-14) and LSU (29-7), who are ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, this week and are both 7-0. Those occurred back-to-back, and MSU has won four in a row since. It’s State’s first four-game winning streak since 1999, when it started 8-0 and was ranked as high as No. 8.

Click here for more Mississippi State football at Brad Locke’s blog.

Click here to create your own Associated Press football poll.

Read more about MSU football in Monday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal