The Mississippi State Bulldogs have had a season to remember, even though they have only played six games.
But what a season it has been so far, going from unranked in August and dispatching three top 10 teams in impressive fashion, Mississippi State finds itself on top of the AP Poll after topping second-ranked Auburn 38-23 last Saturday at home.
"It means the same thing it meant before the season, when we weren't even ranked," said quarterback Dak Prescott, who is featured on the regional cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated. "It doesn't mean much."
Prescott is leading the resurgence in Starkville, where he is completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,478 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also has 576 rushing yards with eight more scores. There is even talk of a possible Heisman Trophy for Prescott.
How these two schools got so good, so quick, is a testament to outstanding recruiting and doing more with less when it comes to that athletic budgets of the schools.
According to Department of Education figures for 2012-13, Mississippi State spent $15.4 million on football, and Ole Miss spent $25.2 million, a combined total less than what Alabama spent.
But while the cowbells are ringing, fans are singing “Hotty Toddy” and rejoicing, both schools know they still have work to do to reach the College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs still must travel to Alabama, and Ole Miss faces a road contest against LSU on Oct. 25 and home date with Auburn the next week.
If they can past those tests, the biggest game in Mississippi history will take place Nov. 29 in Oxford.
Tickets are already sky high for the Egg Bowl, with prices starting at the $250 range just to stand around and hope you catch a glimpse of the action. Some tickets have been priced at over $11,000.
Whether a school from Mississippi finishes No. 1 at the end of the season remains to be seen. But the best college football in the nation is being played in the state right now.
For more on college football in Mississippi, check out this week's Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).
Also featured in this issue is an SI investigation on the nation’s homeless problem among young athletes, Greg Bishop's look at the Dallas Cowboys surprising defense, a story on outgoing MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and a revealing book excerpt from Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells.