It looks like the Southeastern Conference may be going to the dogs again.
While 1980 was the year of the Georgia Bulldogs, it appears 1981 will be the year of the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
State, good enough last year to go 9-2, including an upset over perennial champion Alabama, finished second to national champion Georgia in last season's SEC race because of a 21-15 loss at Florida.
The 14th-ranked, unbeaten Bulldogs swept past that hurdle Saturday, beating Florida, 28-7, with a blitzing defense that intercepted five passes and held the 19th-ranked Gators to a minus 10 yards rushing by turning in 10 sacks.
'We got an old-fashioned country whipping by a good football team,' said Florida Coach Charley Pell. 'Everything a coach dreams about in a horror dream or nightmare, happened out there.'
'We blitzed a bunch,' said Mississippi State Coach Emory Bellard. 'Florida obviously was having trouble handling it. If something like that is happening in your favor, you keep repeating it. Our defensive unit played the finest game of football you'll ever want to see.'
It looks like at least a share of the SEC championship will be decided Oct. 31 when Mississippi State visits Alabama. Georgia doesn't play either Mississippi State or Alabama so its quite possible the two packs of Bulldogs will wind up as co-champions.
Alabama and Georgia, both 3-1 overall, also played steller defense Saturday. The 10th-ranked Crimson Tide intercepted four passes and gave up only 28 yards rushing while beating Vanderbilt, 28-7, for the Commodores' 32nd consecutive SEC defeat, and Georgia shut out South Carolina, 24-0.
In other Saturday action, Tennessee edged Auburn, 10-7; 20th-ranked Arkansas topped previously unbeaten Ole Miss, 27-13, LSU beat Rice, 28-14; Kansas beat Kentucky, 21-16; previously winless Memphis State beat Georgia Tech, 28-15; 4th-ranked Texas beat 15th-ranked Miami (Fla.), 14-7; and Southern Miss beat Richmond, 17.0.
Alabama, which leads the SEC with a 3-0 conference mark, was got an unneeded break Saturday when Vanderbilt quarterback Whit Taylor, leading passer in the league was unable to play because of a sprained foot suffered the previous week against Mississippi State.
It was victory No. 309 for Alabama's Bear Bryant who is now only five off Amos Alonzo Stagg's career record.
Georgia, which plummeted from 4th place in the rankings because of a 13-3 loss at Clemson, led only 3-0 at halftime but Herschel Walker, who rushed for 176 yards in the game, scored two third-quarter touchdowns.
'During those two fine drives, we looked like a Georgia football team should look,' said Georgia Coach Vince Dooley. 'I thought we made some great strides while playing good old fashioned football.'
Auburn, which gained nearly twice as much yardage as Tennessee, drove from its own 20 to the Vols' 7 in the closing minutes only to lose to the clock when freshman quarterback Ken Hobby recovered his own fumble but didn't have enough time to get off another play
'I wanted Hobby to throw a pass, to get the ball out of bounds,' said Auburn offensive cordinator Alex Gibbs. 'But he didn't have time even for that.'
John Fourcade had Ole Miss heading for a go-ahead touchdown before Arkansas safety Danny Walker broke the game open with an 87-yard pass interception return. Fourcade had 257 yards total offense to raise his career total to 5,677 -- one yard more than the previous school record held by Archie Manning.
LSU quarterback Alan Risher threw two touchdown passes...Memphis State quarterback Tom Smith, a sophomore just promoted from the scout team, ran for two touchdowns and helped set up two others...And Southern Miss quarterback Reggie Collier passed for one touchdown and ran for another.
Next Saturday, it's Mississippi State vs. Missouri in Jackson, Ole Miss at Alabama, Auburn at 12th-ranked Nebraska, Florida at LSU, Clemson at Kentucky, Vanderbilt at Miami (Fla.), Florida State at 8th-ranked Ohio State, Memphis State at Virginia Tech, 5th-ranked Pitt at South Carolina, Southern Miss at Texas-Arlington and Tulane at Rice.