31 Flavors of Football: MSU’s Bowl History

To help you and me get through the drudgery of August, I will present in this space a daily scoop of MSU football-ness, as inspired by a certain ice cream chain. August has 31 days, so I’ll let you work it out from there. Here is today’s flavor.

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Mississippi State has an interesting bowl history. I wouldn’t call it a rich bowl history, but the Bulldogs do have some bragging points. For one, they have a very respectable 9-6 record.

MSU is a on a roll right now, too – if you can really call it a roll because of the time span – having one five consecutive bowl games starting with the 1999 Peach Bowl (17-7 over Clemson). Coach Dan Mullen has is 2-0 in bowl games, winning the Gator and then the Music City the past two seasons. State has been to a bowl three of the last five years.

MSU’s last four postseason trips – including the 2000 Independence Bowl – have been to what are considered mid-level bowls. I’m not sure where I’d classify the Chick-fil-A (neé Peach) Bowl – maybe upper middle? Anyway, the Bulldogs haven’t been to a lot of high-level bowls. The last one was the 1999 Cotton Bowl against Texas.

The most prestigious bowl game MSU has been to was actually the first one it was invited to play in. The Bulldogs participated in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1937, losing 13-12 to Duquesne. That was coach Ralph Sasse‘s final season. (Notable: MSU played, and beat, Ole Miss on a Tuesday that season.) Allyn McKeen took MSU back to Miami four years later, this time earning a 14-7 win over Georgetown.

Then there was a 23-year span with no bowl trips. State finally got back in the postseason on Dec. 21, 1963, in the Liberty Bowl. It won that one over N.C. State in frigid Philadelphia, then visited much warmer climes in 1974 for the Sun Bowl (26-24 win over North Carolina).

So, MSU began 3-1 in bowl games, then split the next two before dropping four in a row between 1991 and 1999, all under Jackie Sherrill. He won his last two bowl appearances before his tenure went downhill.

MSU’s goal this year, of course, is to do better than a mid-level bowl. A BCS bowl is probably asking too much, but a Capitol One or Cotton bid? That would leave an indelible mark on both MSU’s bowl history and Mullen’s legacy.

MSU in bowls:

• Jan. 1,1937: Orange, lost 13-12 to Duquesne

• Jan. 4, 1941: Orange, won 14-7 over Georgetown

• Dec. 21, 1963: Liberty, won 16-12 over N.C State

• Dec. 28, 1974: Sun, won 26-24 over North Carolina

• Dec. 27, 1980: Sun, lost 31-17 to Nebraska

• Dec. 31, 1981: Hall of Fame, won 10-0 over Kansas

• Dec. 29, 1991: Liberty, lost 38-15 to Air Force

• Jan. 1, 1993: Peach, lost 21-17 to North Carolina

• Jan. 2, 1995: Peach, lost 28-24 to N.C. State

• Jan. 1, 1999: Cotton, lost 38-11 to Texas

• Dec. 30, 1999: Peach, won 17-7 over Clemson

• Dec. 31, 2000: Independence, won 43-41 (OT) over Texas A&M

• Dec. 29, 2007: Liberty, won 10-3 over UCF

• Jan. 1, 2011: Gator, won 52-14 over Michigan

• Dec. 30, 2011: Music City, won 23-17 over Wake Forest