Mississippi State chooses a QB while Oregon chooses to go with two

Updated: August 28, 2003, 5:19 PM ET

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State ended its quarterback competition earlier this week when coach Jackie Sherrill revealed Kevin Fant had earned the starting job.

The quarterback derby at Oregon will continue into the season.

Both Jason Fife and Kellen Clemens will play for the Ducks against the Bulldogs in the season opener Saturday night. Which one will start is to be determined.

"At some point we may select one quarterback, it might be the third week or the fourth week, I really don't know," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "I don't have a plan in mind. We're going to let this thing evolve as it goes."

The Ducks' quarterback situation became muddled during the second half of last season.

Fife was superb in his first seven games as starter, completing 61 percent of his passes for 1,614 yards, 15 touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Ducks started 6-0 and appeared to be adapting just fine to life without Joey Harrington.

Down the stretch, however, Fife and the Ducks floundered.

Fife completed 43 percent of his passes with eight interceptions and nine touchdowns as Oregon won just one of its last six games.

Enter Kellen Clemens, who played most of the Seattle Bowl loss to Wake Forest in relief.

Fife, a senior, is a 6-foot-4 classic dropback passer. Clemens, a sophomore, is adept at making plays on the move. Even the players acknowledge the competition has been a standoff.

"Whatever's best for the team is the attitude we want," Fife said. "Plus, when you think of it, neither one of us has really separated ourselves from the other one, so it just kind of makes sense that that'd be the reasoning."

And neither has any idea how they'll be used.

"If you go down and score twice, maybe they'll keep you in the game. But if you don't and the other comes in and scores twice, they might keep him in, so who knows?" Clemens said.

Bellotti has had a history of juggling QBs and done fairly well with the delicate task.

In 1997, Akili Smith and Jason Maas shared the job early in the season. Smith eventually took hold of the position late in the season and the Ducks finished strong to go 7-5.

In 1999, Bellotti used Harrington in relief of A.J. Feeley before making in an in-season switch. Oregon went 9-3.

"I'm not worried about one of them emerging, what I want is for us to be a productive offense, for whoever the quarterback is to be a productive and efficient leader. If one of them jumps out, so be it," Bellotti said.

For now, there is no quarterback controversy in Starkville. The usually tightlipped Sherrill announced on Monday that Fant beat out Kyle York.

"I didn't want you guys to have a heart attack," Sherrill said when asked by reporters why he decided to go public with his choice. "I got tired of hearing the question."

The decision to go with Fant was no surprise. He clearly outperformed York in the preseason to reclaim the job he lost when he skipped out on the final two weeks of spring practice.

Fant started 10 of Mississippi State's 12 games last season throwing for 1,918 yards 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as the Bulldogs went 3-9.

He said the losing combined with some problems at home and in the classroom began to get to him. He took some time off in the spring to get his head straight.

Sherrill said Fant was never in danger of losing his spot on the team, but he did lose his top spot on the depth chart to York.

The sophomore played 10 games last season and started two, including the 36-13 loss to open the season at Oregon while Fant served an NCAA suspension. York threw 10 interceptions in 63 attempts.

When fall practice began, Sherrill put the job up for grabs and Fant took hold.

He's glad to be getting a second chance.

"I'm excited. They bring you here to play. Being out on the field is a great feeling," Fant said. "Just to walk out on the field and feel the excitement and those other 10 guys in the huddle. There ain't nothing like it. So, being named the starter is a great feeling."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index