Reporting Rob Hamilton
“There is no truth. There is only perception.” — Gustave Flaubert, French novelist
Truth can be a very harsh thing to accept, especially when it runs into perception.
That happened in several SEC stadiums on Saturday and in most cases, it was a jarring head-on collision. Truth was the winner. Some disappointed fan bases were the losers.
Start in Starkville.
It wasn’t that long ago that Mississippi State and head coach Dan Mullen were the darlings of college football. Could it really be just 11 games since the Bulldogs were 7-0, nationally ranked and heading into a game with Alabama, picked by some to pull the upset in Tuscaloosa? That came crashing down, 38-7, and not much good has happened since.
State closed out 2012 losing five of its last six games, the closest margin 14 points in a Gator Bowl loss to Northwestern. This season has been more of the same. The Dogs scored only a field goal against Oklahoma State and lost to supposed also-ran Auburn. Then, came Saturday at Davis-Wade Stadium. Trailing only 31-26 in the fourth quarter against LSU, State totally collapsed, losing the final stanza, 28-0, for the 59-26 margin. The home team led at one point, 23-21. From then on … LSU 38, Mississippi State 3.
It the last 11 games, State’s record is 3-8 and two of the wins were over Alcorn State and Troy. Sure, LSU has an outstanding team, but so does South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama, all still on the schedule. That leaves no wiggle room for other losses if the Dogs hope to play in the postseason.
The reality is that Mississippi State never was as close to the SEC hierarchy as last year’s 7-0 start caused fans to believe. If nobody realized it before the fourth quarter in Starkville on Saturday, they should now.
Before Ole Miss’ fans delight in their in-state archrival’s misfortune, move on to Auburn.
Ole Miss came into the Saturday night game in Jordan-Hare Stadium as a road favorite over the 2010 national champions. The Rebels defeated the Tigers in 2012 in Oxford and hadn’t beaten Auburn in consecutive seasons in 60 years. They still haven’t.
Auburn won the game, 30-22, using a powerful running game and a defense which had six sacks, two interceptions and a dominating front wall when Ole Miss tried to mount a fourth quarter comeback.
Since late 2012, perception had been that the…