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By Andy Baeuerle

 

Reeling from the death of head coach Mike Leach in December, the Mississippi State Bulldogs were still rolling at full force to the ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa, Florida. Facing the Illinois Fighting Illini for the third time in history, the series between these two teams was tied 1-1, and Mississippi State was looking to make it 2-1. As Mike Leach was known as “the Pirate,” it seemed fitting that the ReliaQuest Bowl was played in Raymond James Stadium, where a giant life-sized pirate ship is displayed. The game started very slow, with no points being scored by either team until late in the second quarter. Illinois led at the half 7-3. In the third quarter, Illinois kicked a 52-yard field goal to increase their lead to 10-3. This wouldn’t last long, however, when, 6 seconds into the fourth quarter, Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers threw his 35th touchdown of the year and 82nd of his career. Bulldog kicker kicked a 27-yard field goal in the last 4 seconds of the game to increase the MS State lead to 13-10. In the last 3 seconds of the game, Illinois ran a play that could’ve got them a score. However, while throwing the ball from player to player, one Illini dropped the ball into the hands of Bulldog cornerback Marcus Bank, who ran the ball back 60 yards for a touchdown, a Mississippi State 19-10 win, and an appropriate send-off for Coach Leach.

Following a surprising regular season under first-year head coach Brian Kelly, the LSU Tigers have had an amazing season, heading to their first SEC Championship since 2019. In a rematch from the 2019 SEC Championship, Georgia topped LSU this year 50-30. The Purdue Boilermakers attended their first-ever Big 10 Conference Football Championship, where they fell to Michigan 22-43. With Purdue and LSU being runner-ups in their respective conference championships, they were selected to face each other in the Citrus Bowl on January 2, 2023. What was expected to be a close game turned out to be a landslide, as LSU came out on top of the Boilermakers 63-7, with 63 being the most points scored by any team in the 76-year history of the Citrus Bowl. This was also the second time in history LSU had scored 9 touchdowns in a bowl game. (The first time was against Oklahoma in the 2019 Peach Bowl.)

Coming into their first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship, TCU had a lot to prove in this appearance. Despite losing the Big 12 Championship to Kansas State, TCU was placed as the #3 seed in the playoff, where they faced and defeated #2 Michigan. On the other hand, Georgia has proven that they are a football powerhouse, ruling the SEC for years and winning the National Championship last year. Getting into the game, these teams were able to hold each other back for about 4 minutes when Georgia quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Stetson Bennett IV ran for a 21-yard touchdown. Bennett IV is also a walk-on player from Jones County Junior College in Ellisville. Following a Georgia field goal, TCU quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Max Duggan made a 2-yard run to put the Horned Frogs on the board with the score being Georgia 10-7. However, these would be the only points TCU would score, as the Bulldogs then took off in high gear. The Bulldog offense worked all game, acquiring 32 first downs, while the defense took 3 turnovers from the Horned Frogs. Following their ninth touchdown of the game and a missed field goal, Georgia and head coach Kirby Smart would walk out of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA, with their second National Championship in a row. TCU would go back to Fort Worth with a loss on their shoulders. This 65-7 win for Georgia is now the largest point difference in the history of college football championships. Georgia has proven they are as dominant or even more so than Alabama, and we may be seeing a new face in the playoffs each year with Georgia and TCU.

 

Let’s check out the other bowl games from the last couple of Weeks:

 

  1. Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Tulane 46, USC 45
  2. Rose Bowl Game Presented by Prudential: Penn State 35, Utah 21

 

The final AP Top 25 was released last night. Here is the updated version:

 

  1. Georgia (15-0) –
  2. TCU (13-2) Up 1
  3. Michigan (13-1) Down 1
  4. Ohio State (11-2) –
  5. Alabama (11-2) –
  6. Tennessee (11-2) –
  7. Penn State (11-2) Up 2
  8. Washington (11-2) Up 4
  9. Tulane (12-2) Up 5
  10. Utah (10-4) Down 3
  11. Florida State (10-3) Up 2
  12. USC (11-3) Down 4
  13. Clemson (11-3) Down 3
  14. Kansas State (10-4) Down 3
  15. Oregon (10-3) –
  16. LSU (10-4)       –
  17. Oregon State (10-3) –
  18. Notre Dame (9-4) Up 1
  19. Troy (12-2) Up 4
  20. MS State (9-4) Up 4
  21. UCLA (9-4) Down 3
  22. Pittsburgh (9-4) Not Ranked
  23. South Carolina (8-5) Down 3
  24. Fresno State (10-4) Not Ranked
  25. Texas (8-5) Down 4

Dropped from Top 25: UTSA 22, NC State 25

 

MageeNews.com is a news source covering Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi

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