November 17, 2009 11:24:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Linebacker Jamar Chaney and wide receiver Brian McRae wanted the same thing for their senior season at Mississippi State.
After seeing their junior seasons end due to injuries, they returned hoping to win a Southeastern Conference championship.
It didn''t happen.
Once the Bulldogs were eliminated from the SEC race, they had to settle for playing for a winning season and earning a bowl bid.
That possibility is hangs in the balance following a 31-3 loss Saturday to then-No. 3 Alabama.
The Bulldogs (4-6, 2-4 SEC) are in danger of having their second straight losing season and eighth in the last nine years if they don''t beat the University of Arkansas at 11:21 a.m. Saturday in Little Rock, Ark.
With close league losses to LSU (30-26) and Florida (29-19), Chaney felt MSU was close to pulling off something special in some games.
Losing tough games, like the one to Alabama, have been tough, but McRae said they haven''t broken MSU''s spirit.
"We still go out the next day, practice our hearts out and give it all we''ve got," McRae said. "We''re never going to quit, lay down, and give up. We''re going to go hard no matter what."
Chaney and McRae have bought into coach Dan Mullen''s mind-set, and believe the program is going the right direction.
Mullen hopes others see the Bulldogs'' effort, but knows there must be a next step.
"We need to win more to earn more respect," Mullen said Monday. "What I hope teams see in us is one that''s going to play real hard, will compete, and fight for four quarters."
Mullen hopes the players don''t give up on this season because he sees winnable against remaining against Arkansas and the University of Mississippi.
"We''re still in a good position," Mullen said. "Our team still has a lot to play for this year. We''ve got to come out and find a way to play one of our better games this Saturday."
McRae will try to make the most of the time he has left.
"I''m planning to have fun and enjoy it while I can," McRae said. "Everybody is trying to get these last two wins and get to a bowl."
The muscle problem in the leg of junior kicker Sean Brauchle has kept him from kicking since the Georgia Tech game, and Mullen said his status remains day to day.
Even though junior Derek DePasquale missed a 36-yard field goal against Alabama, Mullen is still confident enough to keep going to him with Brauchle struggling to get back from the injury. DePasquale made a 34-yard field goal against the Crimson Tide.
"I don''t think (Brauchle) has practiced at 100 percent," Mullen said. "I don''t have any problem with what Derek has done this year, so unless Brauchle comes back and earns the starting job, Derek''s done a good job of taking that spot. When Sean comes back at 100 percent and beats Derek out, he''ll be back on the field."
Hanrahan has surgery
MSU junior fullback Patrick Hanrahan had surgery Monday on his broken hand and is expected to be back at practice today.
Mullen said the Bulldogs took advantage of the off day so Hanrahan could undergo the procedure and not miss any practice time.
Senior running back Christian Ducre'' (knee) was running at practice Sunday.
Hard Little Rock
The Bulldogs have never beaten the Razorbacks in five meetings in Little Rock.
The teams tied (13-13) the first time they played in the Arkansas capital city (1993), but the Razorbacks have won the past four. Two years ago, Arkansas beat MSU 45-31.
"We''ve got our work cut out for us this week with a tough road trip, but every road trip in the SEC is tough," Mullen said.
Three of MSU''s four wins this season have come on the road -- at Vanderbilt (15-3), at Middle Tennessee (27-6), and at Kentucky (31-24).
"We''ve been playing better on the road than we have at home, so that''s a good thing," Chaney said.
Morning Egg Bowl
The MSU athletic department announced Monday the 106th meeting with Ole Miss will kick off at 11:21 a.m. Nov. 28 (WCBI).
1. Southern Mississippi beats MSU in Pearl COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Mississippi players help MSU grow softball in state COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Tight ends could play bigger role for Mullen's Bulldogs COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Energized Bulldogs push on to Sweet 16 LOCAL COLUMNS
5. New Hope loses to Oxford in region opener HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS