October 11, 2014,
will go down as one of the most significant dates in the history of Mississippi State University football…and I was there! On that cool fall night the #3 Bulldogs defeated the #2 Auburn Tigers in Starkville, Mississippi. The final score was 38-23 and it propelled the Bulldogs to a #1 national ranking for the first time in school history. This night also marked the 3rd time in 3 weeks that State defeated a top 10 team. On September 20, I watched State defeat #8 LSU 34-29 in Baton Rouge and the following week they defeated #6 Texas A&M 48-31 at home before hosting Auburn. It was an unbelievably tough stretch for the Bulldogs, but they came out unscathed and improved to 6-o on the year.
In addition to that, another milestone occurred that Saturday when ESPN’s College GameDay visited Starkville for the first time. As a college football fan it would have been my dream for this to happen when I was in college, but I enjoyed the experience just the same as an adult. It was amazing to see all of the attention on my team and my community for once and neither disappointed. Everyone stepped up and made that weekend one of the most incredible experiences for the community and the university. And like I said…I was there!
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to document the monumental weekend for a local organization here in Starkville. I tried to document everything including the setup and excitement on Friday, the GameDay experience, and of course the football game. It was an incredible day that Bulldog fans will not soon forget.
Enjoy a slideshow of my favorite photos from the weekend. You can view a small preview of the slideshow below, but I suggest going here to see the full-screen version. For some reason the Exposure slideshow is not functioning very well on mobile devices (works great on a computer!) so I have added photos to the bottom of this post!
THURSDAY: THEY’RE HERE!
The excitement began Thursday afternoon when the GameDay’s signature orange bus rolled into town. A huge crowd of State fans gathered in front of the Colvard Student Union to welcome the crew.
FRIDAY: THE JUNCTION
Fans began lining up to reserve their tailgate sites on Thursday night and the crowds grew until the official 4:00 p.m. start of setup on Friday. Fans filled the Junction as they were saving their tailgate spot, participated in the GameDay activities, or just walked through to be a part of the moment. It was an incredibly exciting day.
ESPN College GameDay producer Lee Fitting along with hosts Chris Fowler and David Pollack discuss the decision to bring the show to Starkville. They also discussed the momentum in Mississippi, cowbells, the atmosphere of Davis Wade Stadium, and other topics related to the Bulldog’s fast rise in the college football ranks.
SATURDAY: GET UP! IT’S GAMEDAY!
I got up super early and headed to the Junction at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday to experience the GameDay environment. I did not attempt to join the craziness of “The Pit,” but I was able to secure a front row seat right in the middle of the action. I was able to watch the main stage as well as the side stage interviews. It was awesome to see all of the work that is continually happening behind the scenes to make the production happen.
THE MAIN EVENT: #3 BULLDOGS vs #2 TIGERS
The football game was incredible and the Bulldogs dominated early. The defense made plays when needed and fought off the talented Tigers. The record crowd made Davis Wade Stadium one of the most intimidating environments in all of college football.
The defense, led by Benardrick McKinney, makes one last stand to hold off Nick Marshall and the Auburn Tigers.
Chris Jones deflects a pass that is intercepted by Justin Cox to seal the victory for the Bulldogs!
Dak Prescott leads the offense on the final drive to close out the game in the fourth quarter.
THE FINAL KNEE!
One of my absolute favorites…Dak takes the final knee to end the ballgame!
LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN!
The #3 Bulldogs defeated the #2 Tigers 38-23! There was not an empty seat in the stadium when the clock hit 0:00 that night. Every fan celebrated and every cowbell was ringing as the Bulldogs enjoyed the victory.