Sideline View by Dale McKee

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The New Orleans Saints (11-5) and Carolina Panthers (11-5) finished tied for first place in the NFC South but the Saints won the division based on a sweep of the Panthers during the regular season. The Saints won 34-13 at Carolina and 31-21 in New Orleans. The Saints are the fourth seed and will play host to the fifth seeded Panthers on Sunday at 3:40 p.m. The winner will meet top seeded Philadelphia (13-3) the following week.
The TaySlayer Bowl was a surprise to many of the faithful maroon and white fans as the Bulldogs shocked Louisville and their 2016 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson. Freshman quarterback Keytaon Thompson subbing for Nick Fitzgerald rushed for three scores in leading MSU to the thrilling 31-27 win. Collins native Neil McLaurin, who intercepted Jackson three times, was named the MVP of the bowl game. The former Collins quarterback also had 11 tackles, and a pass deflection. His six interceptions on the season tied the school record.
The Bulldogs (9-4), who were bowling for a school record eighth straight year, will open their 2018 season against Stephen F. Austin with new head coach Joe Morrheads. This senior class with 34 career wins ties the 1942 and 2015 senior classes.
You have to hand it to Bulldog interim head coach Greg Knox and his leftover five man coaching staff for their preparation in getting these Bulldogs motivated to play against a talented Louisville team. State could have folded with all their off field distractions, but they fought to the end.
Service Academy likes to run with it
I always pull for our service academies. These young cadets still remind me of what makes America special. I was so glad to see both Army and Navy win their bowl games. Army passed only four times and completed only one of those for six yards in winning, 42-35, over San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl. Army also won three times during the year without completing a pass. In one game they did not even attempt a pass. Jeff Monken, brother of former USM head coach Todd Monken, is the head coach at Army.
Navy rolled over Virginia, 49-7, in the Military Bowl without completing their only pass attempt of the game. It was the second time this year that Navy won a game without a completion. They attempted one pass that fell incomplete in a win over SMU.
Long time coming
New Mexico State won their first bowl game since 1960 with a 26-20 overtime win over Utah State in the Arizona Bowl. New Mexico State finished the year at 7-6, a notable feat since they had had 14 straight losing seasons and 44 losing seasons since that last bowl game.
Sons of famous NFL stars
Former Southern Mississippi football star Patrick Surtain's son is listed as the top high school defensive back in the country. Patrick, Jr., is a 6-3, 190-pounder out of Plantation, Florida. His dad was a three-time All-Pro who intercepted 37 passes in his 11-year NFL career with Miami and Kansas City. LSU is his top choice, with Alabama hot on the trail.
Former New Orleans Saint Joe Horn's son is listed as the No. 23 cornerback. Jaycee, who is a 4-star prospect out of Alpharetta (Ga.), chose South Carolina over several top ten teams. Joe, Sr., was a four-time pro bowl wide receiver for the Saints during his 12-year pro career.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' grandson won his second straight Texas state Class 5-A title for Highland Park. John Stephen Jones was the MVP of the thrilling 53-49 win with a last second TD pass. Jones threw for 4,911 yards and 61 touchdowns during the season. He has offers from Texas Tech, SMU and Arkansas.
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