Craziest Egg Bowl finish? Grading MSU's wild win over Ole Miss that clinched 10th consecutive bowl
I would say what happened Thursday night was unreal, but this is the Egg Bowl. Literally, anything can happen.
Ole Miss scored with 4 seconds left when backup Matt Corral hit wide receiver Elijah Moore for the score to cut Mississippi State’s lead to 21-20. Overtime seemed imminent.
That’s when it got crazy. Moore strode to the back of the end zone, dropped to one knee, lifted his leg and pretended to pee like a dog. Moore was flagged, correctly, for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Frankly, it was one of the most selfish penalties I’ve seen in my years of covering college sports.
Bulldogs coach Joe Moorhead elected to have the penalty enforced on the extra point and the 33-yard kick from Luke Logan sailed wide. Mississippi State survived and clinched bowl eligibility in the process — thanks to a bone-headed play that no fan on either side will ever forget.
That’s saying something, considering the series dates to 1901.
Moorhead is now 2-0 against the arch-rival Rebels. While the all-time series has quite the gap, the past 30 years have been much more competitive. How competitive? With the win Thursday, Mississippi State now leads 16-15.
Each year, the game always has a few things stick out. A fumble here, a blocked punt there. Thursday night, it was 2 fumbles by Ole Miss (4-8, 2-6 SEC) that led to 14 Bulldogs points and allowed MSU to become bowl eligible for the 10th consecutive year.
Credit Moorhead and the staff at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs were left to slip away to obscurity in Knoxville when it fell to Tennessee midway through the season and finish the season on a high note.
For the Rebels, Ole Miss’ season ended under the strangest ways, with head coach Matt Luke left to explain the unexplainable ending.
Matt Luke and John Rhys Plumlee's reaction to Elijah Moore's celebration in the endzone. pic.twitter.com/DV8TFFMI1G
— Samaria Terry (@samariaterry) November 29, 2019
The Rebels have regressed under the former Ole Miss player. In 3 seasons, Luke’s seasons consist of 6-6, 5-7 and now 4-8.
Luke’s record against SEC western division opponents now is only 3-15, with 2 wins coming against Arkansas and 1 win coming in his first season against Mississippi State.
The good news for Ole Miss, the Rebels have been close all season. The Rebels have lost 6 games by 5, 8, 11, 7, 6 and 1 point, respectively. The Rebels were close all season and failed to win any of them.
It was a big night for the Bulldogs. Here is how they graded out.
Quarterback Garrett Shrader started in place of the injured Tommy Stevens and did exactly what was needed. He finished with 108 yards through the air and 36 yards on the ground.
The Bulldogs didn’t need him to win the game. They had Kylin Hill for that. Shrader scored twice inside the red zone, reading the Ole Miss defense perfectly.
To no surprise, Hill took this game personal and played like it. The Columbus, Miss., native finished with 137 yards on 27 carries and ran like a steam-roller all night.
Each Egg Bowl, there is an X-factor. Thursday night, it was running back Nick Gibson. The senior was huge on only 3 carries for 57 yards and one of them being a touchdown.
The MSU receivers came into the game with plenty of question marks. Deddrick Thomas stepped up big, catching 4 passes for 49 yards.
At the end of the day, the Bulldogs secured the ball when it needed to and made the plays when it needed to.
Mississippi State only finished with 108 passing yards and a total of 318 yards but was as efficient as it has been all season long.
You won’t see Willie Gay in the stat books, but he was all over the field. What you will see is the name you’ve seen all season in Erroll Thompson, leading the Bulldogs with 11 tackles, finishing the regular season with 84 tackles and leading the defense.
The defense bent but didn’t break, holding Ole Miss quarterback John Rhys Plumlee to only 34 rushing yards.
Plumlee was much better through the air than he’s been all season, connecting on 9-of-14 passes for 121 yards. Before the Rebels’ rallied late in the game, the Bulldogs had given up fewer than 150 yards through the air.
Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop coached a gem, eliminating the Plumlee rushing attack many expected. A predominately rushing team, Ole Miss was held to only 139 yards. Ole Miss threw for 245 yards want many of those coming late in the game.
Special teams: B
It was a nice day for Tucker Day punting the ball, as he finished with a 43.6 average and a long of 51 yards. Day was able to pin the Rebels inside the 20 yards line twice. The only miscue occurred when Day elected to run for a first down in the 2nd quarter and failed to get it, leading to an Ole Miss touchdown.
“This is my team, this is my school, this is my program. You’ll have to drag my Yankee ass out of here.” MSU head coach Joe Moorhead.
“This was a huge win for our program, especially our seniors. I couldn’t be more proud for the players, coaches and the majority of our fans. I don’t know if I’ve gone through a season with more adversity,” Moorhead.