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Battle of Mississippi Goes to the Rebels

November 29, 2002|From Times Wire Services

Mississippi wiped away more than a month's worth of misery with one victory over its archrival.

Eli Manning connected with Chris Collins for two touchdown passes to lead the Rebels to a 24-12 victory over Mississippi State on Thursday night in a Southeastern Conference game at Oxford, Miss.

The Rebels (6-6, 3-5 in the SEC) snapped a five-game losing streak and became bowl eligible. They are likely headed to the Independence Bowl or Music City Bowl.

"Five weeks seems a long time ago after tonight," Mississippi center Ben Claxton said.

The 99th meeting between the archrivals was a dreary ending to the worst season in Coach Jackie Sherrill's 12-year tenure at Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs (3-9, 0-8) finished winless in the SEC for the first time since 1988 and lost their last five games. For Sherrill, it's the first nine-loss season of his 25-year career.

There has been speculation that Sherrill's job is in jeopardy, but Athletic Director Larry Templeton said after the game he had no plans to meet with his coach this weekend.

Sherrill, who turned 59 Thursday, said he intends to return.

"I'm the kind of guy, when you put a knot on my head, I'm going to try to repay that knot," Sherrill said.

Manning was 16 of 29 for 207 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown run. Collins caught four passes for 130 yards.

Kevin Fant was 23 of 42 for 340 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions for Mississippi State. Brent Smith kicked two field goals.

Mississippi State, the most turnover-prone team in the SEC, helped set up Mississippi's game-sealing touchdown with its 37th giveaway of the season. Travis Johnson intercepted Fant at the Bulldog 26 and returned it to the four with about six minutes left.

Manning sneaked in from the one three plays later to make it 24-12.

"Turnovers hurt us bad," receiver Ray Ray Bivines said.


Colorado running back Chris Brown is questionable for today's game against Nebraska because of a bruised sternum. Bobby Purify, who is averaging 5.9 yards a carry, will play if Brown is unable to participate. Nebraska will be without kicker Josh Brown, who was suspended earlier this week after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence early Sunday.... Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang, who has injuries to his left knee and the thumb on his throwing hand, is listed as probable for Saturday's game against Alabama.... Keith Glantz, who sets the Glantz-Culver line, offered the following point spreads if No. 1 Miami makes it to the bowl championship series title game in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3: Miami would be favored by 10 1/2 points over Ohio State, 5 1/2 over Oklahoma, 8 over Iowa, 9 over Georgia, and 14 1/2 over Notre Dame.

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