Bulldogs earn top 20 finish in national polls

The Bulldogs were ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 20 in the Amway Coaches poll.

Posted: Jan. 9, 2018 6:10 PM
Updated: Jan. 9, 2018 6:10 PM

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – After culminating a nine-win season with a TaxSlayer Bowl victory, Mississippi State football claimed a Top 20 finish in both national polls released on Tuesday. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 20 in the Amway Coaches poll.

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It represented State’s highest poll finish since ending the 2014 season ranked Nos. 11 and 12 in the Associated Press and Coaches polls, respectively. It was also the Bulldogs’ seventh Top 20 finish all-time in the Coaches poll (including the former UPI rankings). After re-entering the polls on Oct. 30, MSU closed the year with seven straight ranked weeks.

The Bulldogs (9-4) recorded the ninth nine-win season in program history and went 4-4 in league play. Seven of the nine wins were of the double-digit variety, including its largest victory ever over LSU (37-7), who finished one spot ahead of State in the AP poll.

Statistically, MSU led the SEC in seven different team categories, including third down offense (.462), third down defense (.304), defensive touchdowns (4), first down defense (175), kickoff return defense (17.9), sacks allowed (13) and time of possession (33:23). The Bulldogs ranked in the Top 10 nationally in third down offense (No. 8), third down defense (No. 10), blocked punts (No. 9), defensive touchdowns (No. 8), first down defense (No. 2), sacks allowed (No. 5) and time of possession (No. 8).

Individually, TaxSlayer Bowl MVP Mark McLaurin became the first MSU player to lead the SEC in interceptions since current NFL Pro Bowler Darius Slay did so in 2012. McLaurin tied the school single-season record with six and set a single-game record with three against Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson in the TaxSlayer Bowl. McLaurin was fourth nationally in picks.

Junior defensive end Montez Sweat, who announced he will return for his senior season, was tops in the SEC and top 10 nationally in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (15.5). Fellow teammate Jeffery Simmons led the nation in blocked kicks this season with three.

For more information on the Bulldogs, follow the MSU football team on Twitter, like them on Facebook and join them on Instagram by searching for "HailStateFB." All-access coverage is also available on SnapChat by searching for "HailStateSnap.

Associated Press Top 25 (Final)
1. Alabama (57)
2. Georgia
3. Oklahoma
4. Clemson
5. Ohio State
6. UCF (4)
7. Wisconsin
8. Penn State
9. TCU
10. Auburn
11. Notre Dame
12. USC
13. Miami
14. Oklahoma State
15. Michigan State
16. Washington
17. Northwestern
18. LSU
19. Mississippi State
20. Stanford
21. South Florida
22. Boise State
23. NC State
24. Virginia Tech
25. Memphis

Amway Coaches Poll (Final)
1. Alabama (62)
2. Georgia
3. Oklahoma
4. Clemson
5. Ohio State
6. Wisconsin
7. UCF
8. Penn State
9. TCU
10. USC
11. Notre Dame
12. Auburn
13. Miami
14. Oklahoma State
15. Washington
16. Michigan State
17. Northwestern
18. LSU
19. Stanford
20. Mississippi State
21. South Florida
22. Boise State
23. NC State
24. Memphis
25. Virginia Tech

MSU in the Final Associated Press Poll
1940 – No. 9
1941 – No. 16
1942 – No. 18
1957 – No. 14
1974 – No. 17
1976 – No. 20
1980 – No. 19
1992 – No. 23
1994 – No. 24
1999 – No. 13
2000 – No. 24
2010 – No. 15
2014 – No. 11
2017 – No. 19

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