Sometimes Mississippi State’s Wayne Madkin grows tired of the snide remarks and back-handed compliments.
The 15th-ranked Bulldogs have a good offense too, and the sophomore quarterback, who directed a 17-7 victory over Clemson in the Peach Bowl on Thursday night, wants everyone to know it.
“The way we play on offense may not be pretty sometimes like people like it,” he said. “But we play with a lot of heart. That’s why we won 10 games.”
And because of a defense, the best in the country, that picked off five Clemson passes and held the Tigers to three touchdowns fewer than their average.
The Bulldogs (10-2) had only gotten a 39-yard field goal by Scott Westerfield when Madkin bounced in for a two-yard touchdown run with 11:40 to go.
And the defense, which held Clemson to its lowest point total this season, made it hold up the rest of the way with five interceptions and a fumble as Mississippi State finished with 10 victories for the second time in school history.
Mississippi State Coach Jackie Sherrill said Madkin got the attack flowing after halftime. “He played excellent,” he said. “The thing he did the best was protect the football, not make mistakes.”
That was left for Clemson. Coach Tommy Bowden tried every gimmick he had to jump-start the Tigers (6-6). He shuffled quarterbacks Brandon Streeter and Woody Dantzler. He used crazy formations. Down 3-0, he passed up a tying field goal on fourth and seven from the Bulldogs’ 13.
It was Mississippi State’s first postseason victory in five tries since the 1981 Hall of Fame Bowl. It was also Sherrill’s first bowl victory with the Bulldogs in five tries since arriving in 1991.
Travis Zachery, the Tigers’ leading rusher and scorer, dislocated his right elbow tackling Fred Smoot on an interception return one minute into the game.
The Tigers, who had won seven straight bowl games from 1986-93, have lost four bowls games in a row.