Mississippi State football: 5 reasons the Bulldogs beat Ole Miss
Even though it is the year 2020, it is hard to imagine the Egg Bowl having a more crazy ending than it did last season. Oh, but when you insert Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin into one of the nation’s nastiest rivalries, anything is possible.
Mississippi State is coming off its most impressive performance since the season-opening win against LSU as the Bulldogs fought hard against Georgia in a 31-24 loss while Ole Miss had a idle week because of a canceled game following its rout of South Carolina 2 weeks ago.
More important, Mississippi State has a chance to win its 3rd consecutive Egg Bowl, something only Dan Mullen has done since the 1940s. And Mullen only did it once, when he won his first 3 Egg Bowl games from 2009-11. (Ole Miss vacated its wins in 2012 and 2014.)
The Rebels are favored to win Saturday, but here are 5 reasons Leach and the Bulldogs will pull the upset in Oxford.
1. Ole Miss can’t stop anyone
The Rebels are giving up an eye-popping 535.6 yards per game, good for 125th out of 127 FBS teams. More important, they’re allowing 40.9 points per game, worst in the SEC and 124th nationally. As much as Kiffin seems to focus on his offense, there can be less said for figuring out what is wrong with Chris Partridge’s defense. Opposing teams can do it either way, too, as the Rebels are woeful against both the run (243.43 yards per game) and pass (292.1 yards per game).
2. State will be able to run the ball
As pointed out above, Ole Miss is getting shredded on the ground. While this isn’t exactly the forte of a Leach offense — in fact, the Bulldogs are dead last in rushing yards per game — the holes will be open there for Jo’Quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson if, and this is a major if, Leach wants to take advantage. On Tuesday, I argued that the Bulldogs’ best shot at winning the game is to run the ball. Though, it seems that ….
3. Leach has found his quarterback
After going back and forth between KJ Costello and Will Rogers during most of the middle of the season, Leach has finally settled on the true freshman Rogers who seemed to settle into the offense this past Saturday against a good Georgia defense. He was efficient, completing 41-of-52 passes for 336 yards and a touchdown while also being smart, not throwing an interception nor fumbling. Now with Leach fully behind him, he has found a rhythm with Osirus Mitchell, Jaden Walley and Co.
4. Ole Miss has a tendency for turnovers
Yes, it’s true that Mississippi State has turned the ball over more than the Rebels, but when it comes to the quarterback position, you can probably trust Rogers more than Matt Corral. In 7 games this season, Corral has thrown 9 interceptions. Granted, 6 came against Arkansas. Ole Miss fans no doubt think the problems are behind him because he hasn’t thrown a pick in the last 2 games. However, he was facing bad defenses in Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Pressure him into forcing some throws and the picks will come.
5. Leach will pull out all the stops
It’s no secret that Leach struggled at Washington State against Washington in that rivalry game, but that was more of a program having much better players. While this game won’t affect his job security, expect Leach to do everything in his power to pull it out. That means crazy formations — Big Gulp, anyone? — and a bunch of trick plays that we have yet to see this season. We haven’t seen The Pirate pull out the secrets yet.