NOTEBOOK: Last year’s loss provides huge motivation for Miss. State

STARKVILLE – It was a humbling experience last year for Mississippi State when it was thumped 45-0 by Ole Miss.
Well, forget about humility. The Bulldogs were brimming with confidence and bravado on Saturday, and they had good reason to following their 41-27 Egg Bowl upset of the Rebels at Davis Wade Stadium.
Middle linebacker Jamar Chaney, a senior who watched from the sidelines last year because of an injury, was as emotional as he’s ever been in giving an on-field pregame pep talk, and his jaw never stopped moving.
He gave the Rebels an earful.
“I was talking to them the whole game. I probably can’t say none of the stuff I was saying, but we were going back and forth,” said Chaney, who made two tackles to finish as the team leader with 90, a single-season personal best.
While coach Dan Mullen did the honorable thing and had his team take a knee at game’s end when he could’ve tacked on another touchdown, the players wanted more.
“I’d rather beat them worse, to be honest with you,” kicker Derek DePasquale said. “I wish we’d scored the last minute.”
And that, Chaney believes, is what a rivalry is all about.
“I wanted to score about 60 on them,” he said. “No remorse.”

Dixon for Conerly
– If he had a ballot, Anthony Dixon knows who he’d vote for in the Conerly Trophy race – himself.
MSU’s senior tailback, who capped his illustrious career with 133 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries, will likely be battling Ole Miss tailback/receiver Dexter McCluster for the award that goes to the state’s top college player.
The Conerly will be awarded Monday night in Jackson.
“I would like to have it,” Dixon said. “I lost it one time, and I was very upset by that.”
Dixon was a finalist in 2007, when Southern Miss running back Damion Fletcher won it.
Dixon finished this season with 1,391 rushing yards, a single-season school record. McCluster has 985 yards rushing and 475 receiving.
“I know everybody talks about Heisman trophies, he’s leading the SEC on a team that played the toughest schedule in the country, and he leads the league in rushing,” Mullen said of Dixon. “I haven’t heard many people even mention his name for a lot of awards.”

Key drive
– After forcing a three-and-out early in the third quarter, MSU marched 70 yards in 13 plays and pulled ahead for good, at 20-13, on Chris Relf’s 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marcus Green with 4:07 left in the quarter.

Key number
9 – Number of times MSU converted its 13 third-down attempts.

– “I caught a lot of stuff when I went home (last) year. But this year, I can say, ‘What’s up, man? What happened?’” – MSU running back Anthony Dixon, on his Ole Miss friends in Jackson

Bulldog bites
– In its seven home games, MSU drew 376,544 fans, shattering the old single-season mark of 306,545. The average attendance of 53,792 is also a record. … Charles Mitchell’s two interceptions marked the fourth time this year a Bulldog has recorded a two-interception game. … With Dixon rushing for 133 yards and quarterback Relf gaining 131, it was the first time MSU had a pair of 100-yard rusher since 2004, when Jerious Norwood (165) and Fred Reid (109) did it against Kentucky.

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

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