JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Magnolia State is still buzzing from arguably the most successful sports weekend in its history.
Ole Miss rallied to topple Alabama 23-17 in Oxford a few hours after Mississippi State dominated Texas A&M 48-31 in Starkville, helping turn the college football world upside down. On Sunday, fans of both schools were basking in a scenario almost too good to be true: The Rebels and Bulldogs are tied for the No. 3 spot in the Top 25.
Now that the programs have beaten the odds to get through the weekend unscathed — it was 4.6 to 1 that both would win, according to The Westgate LV SuperBook’s Jay Kornegay –they have to get back to work if they want the party and championship aspirations to continue.
Las Vegas has already started to jump on the Magnolia bandwagon. The SuperBook’s latest national championship odds put Ole Miss at 15 to 1 after opening at 35 to 1 in January. Mississippi State’s odds are now at 25 to 1 after starting at 100 to 1.
Both programs have big games this weekend, with another to be played in the state.
No. 3 Mississippi State (5-0, 2-0 SEC) will host No. 2 Auburn (5-0, 2-0) while No. 3 Ole Miss (5-0, 2-0) must travel to face No. 14 Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1) in College Station.
Some of the fallout from the big sports weekend in Mississippi:
HEISMAN INTRODUCTION: The rest of the nation is learning what Mississippi State has known for a couple of years — quarterback Dak Prescott is really good. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior put himself in the Heisman Trophy conversation with an impressive performance against Texas A&M, running for three touchdowns and throwing for two more. So far this season, he’s thrown for 1,223 yards, 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions, while also running for 455 yards and six touchdowns. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is impressed: “He played like he’s played all year — like one of the best players in the country.”
REDEMPTION FOR SENQUEZ: Ole Miss sealed its victory over Alabama when senior cornerback Senquez Golson made an acrobatic catch for an interception with 37 seconds remaining. It was special moment for Golson — especially considering his not-so-great past against the Crimson Tide. As a freshman in 2011, Golson was faked by Alabama running back Trent Richardson not once — but twice — on the same play during Ole Miss’ 52-7 loss, and the embarrassing clip was replayed for months.
TRIPLING HIS OUTPUT: Mississippi State linebacker Richie Brown grabbed three interceptions against Texas A&M, becoming the first Bulldogs player to accomplish that feat since Jeramie Johnson in 2005. It was a stunning breakout for Brown, who had just one interception in 17 games before Saturday.
TODDYS FOR EVERYONE: Ole Miss fans say the school may lose games, but never a party. On Saturday, the Rebels won both. After beating Alabama, fans marched through campus with the goalposts and onto the town square about a mile away. Pop star Katy Perry also got into the act. Attending her first college game after her appearance on ESPN, she was hugging the Rebels’ black bear mascot on the sidelines. School officials said Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth and Octavia Spencer mingled with crowds during tailgating and even some of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies — including Vince Carter and Mike Conley — made the short trip to Oxford, cheering on the Rebels from the sidelines down the stretch.
WHAT’S NEXT: If recent history is any indication, Ole Miss and Mississippi State might have entertaining games next weekend, too. The Rebels play at Texas A&M, which beat Ole Miss 30-27 in 2012 and 41-38 in 2013 in matchups that featured Johnny Manziel making big plays for the Aggies. Mississippi State hosts Auburn and the Bulldogs look to finish what they started last year. They had the Tigers on the ropes, but Auburn scored a go-ahead touchdown with 10 seconds to play in a 24-20 win to avoid the upset en route to the national championship game.
GAMEDAY PART II: The state of Mississippi had never hosted ESPN’s “College Gameday” show until it was broadcast from the Ole Miss campus on Saturday. Now the show is returning to the Magnolia State for an encore. ESPN announced Sunday that the show will be televised from Starkville for this Saturday’s showdown between No. 3 Mississippi State and No. 2 Auburn.
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