STARKVILLE - Despite rolling into Saturday's showdown against No. 4 Alabama as the top-ranked team in the country, No. 1 Mississippi State suddenly finds itself in a familiar position.
STARKVILLE -- As a point guard, Jerica James knows how to direct traffic. The senior is familiar with all of the hand signals and the subtle eye maneuvers that allow teammates to work their magic without using words. If there is one signal James and all point guards know, it is when a player grabs the ball and uses one arm to wave everyone off to one side of the floor as if to say, "Get out of my way. I got this."
STARKVILLE -- In the moments after leading the Mississippi State football team to its first 9-0 start in program history, coach Dan Mullen wasn't peppered with questions about a 45-16 victory against Tennessee-Martin on Homecoming. Mullen wasn't asked repeatedly about quarterback Dak Prescott, who had for three touchdowns and 260 yards. He wasn't pestered to reflect on No. 1 MSU's historic winning streak, which moved to 12 games, the second-best active run in the country. Instead, Mullen and each MSU player who met with the media Saturday night was asked often about one thing: MSU's game against Alabama on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
WESSON -- The East Mississippi Community College football team did all it could on the field this season. Now human voters and computers will decide its fate. The final National Junior College Athletic Association ranking for the regular season will be released today. The poll will give an idea of EMCC's bowl destination, which will be confirmed Tuesday.
STARKVILLE -- Vic Schaefer feels his 2014-15 Mississippi State women's basketball team has enough weapons to make opponents pay inside, outside, or against any kind of defense.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Alabama football players were still celebrating their latest great escape from Death Valley when coach Nick Saban delivered a sobering reminder of the letdown the Crimson Tide had after their last dramatic triumph at LSU. "You know, we didn't play very well after that win," Saban said late Saturday night, alluding to an upset loss at home to Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in 2012.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Alabama quarterback Blake Sims figured out LSU's swarming defense just in time for the Crimson Tide to deal the Tigers yet another devastating loss in raucous Death Valley. Sims drove Alabama 55 yards in the final 50 seconds of regulation for a tying field goal, and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to DeAndrew White in overtime to lift No. 4 Alabama to a 20-13 victory against No. 14 LSU on Saturday night.
COTTONDALE, Ala. -- Seventy. In Eight-Man football, that's not such a big number. But when your archrival puts that number up against you in rallying from a 29-point deficit for a victory, that can lead to frustrating times.
Sam Caldwell believes Zion Campbell has the potential to help his Riverdale Baptist (Md.) girls basketball team build on its national championship from last season. Vic Schaefer and the Mississippi State women's basketball coaches have seen that potential, too, and they hope Campbell can continue to develop and push the Bulldogs closer to championships of their own.
RIPLEY -- Following the Caledonia High School football team's 48-14 loss to Ripley in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A North State playoffs on Friday night, coach Andy Crotwell talked briefly about the loss. Then he spoke at length about Caledonia's season and, more importantly, the senior class that helped the Confederates reach the postseason for the first time in nine seasons.
STARKVILLE -- Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott's day was finished just after halftime. The Southeastern Conference's leading rusher, tailback Josh Robinson, watched most of the game from the sideline. Three more starters didn't play, but the No. 1 Mississippi State football team barely missed a beat, as its next wave of playmakers emerged Saturday in a 45-16 victory against Tennessee-Martin on Homecoming.
STARKVILLE -- The scoreboard hadn't even been turned off. That's how much time it took for the No. 1 Mississippi State football team, with fans still cheering a 45-16 homecoming victory against Tennessee-Martin, to begin fielding questions about the next game on its schedule.
Caledonia-Ripley Breakout Items
ABERDEEN -- Aberdeen High School football coach Mark Bray and third-year North Panola coach Derek King expected a close game when their teams met Friday night in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A North State playoffs. That's the way things started, as Aberdeen nursed a 20-16 lead at halftime. But Aberdeen scored 26 unanswered points in the second half and the defense held the Cougars to -2 yards rushing, 6 yards passing, and one first down (on a penalty) en route to a 46-16 win.
MACON -- The Noxubee County High School football team looked sluggish early in its Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A North State playoff game against Senatobia. The Warriors had just returned a kickoff to the Tigers' 17-yard line, which forced a frustrated Noxubee County coach Tyrone Shorter to yell a simple message from the sideline. "They better not score!" Shorter warned his players as they took a knee during an injury timeout.
GREENWOOD -- The Starkville Academy football team wrapped up its regular season Friday night with a 31-0 victory against Pillow Academy in a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA, District 1, Division II game.
Tennessee-Martin/MSU By the Numbers
OXFORD -- Shortly after a pair of heartbreaking losses that tarnished a 7-0 start and a No. 3 ranking in the poll, Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze made a promise to himself and his Rebels. "I promised to stay the course and not be discouraged," Freeze said, "so I'm happy to have eight wins and be sitting where we are. It's a happy locker room today."
A wake-up call is what the New Hope School football team received Friday night in a 32-29 loss to Class 5A, Region 1 rival Saltillo in the regular-season finale for both teams. New Hope (9-2, 5-2 region), which clinched the No. 2 seed in the region last week with a victory at West Point, was plagued by penalties and turnovers all night and trailed all game. Still, the Trojans' Brenton Spann scored on a 3-yard run to cut the Tigers' lead to 32-29 with 1 minute, 11 seconds remaining.
Starkville-Clinton Breakout Items
1. Moorhead starstruck by phone call with Prescott COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Heritage Academy wins district title in baseball HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. Recruiting calendar undergoes major changes COLLEGE SPORTS