It’s that week again. It’s Egg Bowl week, and the spewing hatred between Mississippi State and Ole Miss fans start climaxing at a rather rapid rate to peak on Saturday in Oxford. One team will have bragging rights for a year, and the loser will have to take their ball and go home trophy-less.
Ole Miss has already had a good season. From a 2-10 record in 2011 to five wins and on the brink of a bowl berth, the Rebels have turned it around in rather dramatic fashion under Hugh Freeze, and it’s been fun to watch. The losses have been competitive, and there is gaining optimism nearly after every week. And what better way to notch six wins and get to a bowl game by beating your hated in-state rival Mississippi State? Rebel fans are giddy at the thought.
But this team has been stuck on five wins for three weeks now. What makes you think they beat MSU this week and finally become bowl eligible? Entering week 10 against Georgia, Ole Miss was sporting a 5-3 record with four weeks left to get that final W. That hasn’t happened yet, and we’re still waiting.
The Rebels were pummeled by Georgia, gave the game away against Vanderbilt and lost a heartbreaker against LSU last weekend. That’s three losses in a row, after looking rather bound and determined three weeks ago to reach a seven-win plateau.
Ole Miss will have to beat the team and head coach in Dan Mullen that has owned them the last several years. MSU has outscored Ole Miss 103 to 53, including the 31-3 blowout last season.
Ole Miss’ secondary will need its best performance of the year. This group is currently ranked 12th in the SEC in pass defense, allowing an average of 247 yards per game through the air. And MSU QB Tyler Russell will look to attack that portion of the defense with his bevy of receivers, especially coming off a four-touchdown performance against Arkansas. This is a big advantage the Bulldogs have over the Rebels. While Ole Miss has better offensive numbers, MSU has the more favorable matchup in the passing game.
Both teams should be able to move the ball well on offense all night, leading into a shootout-type scenario. Wouldn’t that be fun to watch?
A win for the Rebels would not only notch six wins, but it would help expedite what Freeze is building and the perception surrounding the program, not only in the state of Mississippi but around the country as well. Recruiting implications will be magnified, seeing they could already have the No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche in the bag.
All is not lost with an Egg Bowl loss, but it definitely puts a cherry on top with a win over the Bulldogs at home, clinching a bowl berth to furthermore bolster their brand as a program. It would take a good season to a great season, accomplishing what many thought wasn’t possible in Freeze’s first season.
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