Counting down to Mississippi State 2024 Kickoff: 59 Days

59, as in… the total offensive plays snapped off officially by a Bulldog offense in a pair of bowl games, tied for second-fewest post-season hikes in Mississippi State annals? Hmmm, not particularly interesting? OK, check this.

State won both of those bowl contests despite so few formal snaps. Now we’re talking.

And if asked to guess which Bulldog bowl wins came in such fast fashion, it’s safe to bet none of y’all would get both. Maybe, either? Because despite so few offensive plays the 2000 Independence (nee Snow) Bowl still saw State put 43 points on the frozen Shreveport scoreboard.

Part of that frantic evening’s eternal fun for us on the snowy scene was how many big plays each offense made dashing literally through the slush. The total yardage was modest only because it took so long for everyone to get lined up, after the officiating crew figured out where the line was in the first place.

Jackie Sherrill let Sparky Woods keep the offense on the ground mostly with 246 rushing yards and over half that from Dontae Walker with three touchdowns. Wayne Madkin ran for one, but it was in overtime and the game winner thanks to a non-offensive snap. Well, it was Texas A&M’s snap of an OT point-after blocked by Willie Blade and tag-team returned by Eugene Clinton and Julius Griffith.

Ground-pounding was also key to the short-snapping success in the 2011 Music City Bowl. In their final Mississippi State games Chris Relf took the hike, handed it to Vick Ballard, and off the back went for 180 yards on just 14 rushes. The largest portion of his rushing came on just two totes, for a 60-yard touchdown to tie it up 7-7 in the first quarter and 72 yards in the fourth for the margin of 23-17 victory over Wake Forest. It was the longest Bulldog run ever in a bowl at the time.

Ballard was Most Valuable Player of course. His big breakaways were how State could have the ball just the 59 snaps, 40 rushes, and 24:10 total minutes and still essentially dominate the evening in Nashville. As we found out soon this win and season also marked the end of Dan Mullen’s debut phase with State.

Oh, I almost forgot. The record for fewest bowl game snaps by Mississippi State? That would be in the far colder and much more frozen 1963 Liberty Bowl, the Philadelphia PA edition of the old classic. With temperatures miserable in the press box and positively threatening on the field, according to them who were there that December day, the Bulldogs got off just 56 hikes of the jolly old football. It was enough to come away with a win over North Carolina State, too.

Hmmm. Is there a trend to take from this about bowl game offensive gameplans? Naaaaah….

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