Mississippi State could finish the season with 9 wins after easily beating Tennessee State on Saturday.

To get to 9 wins, the Bulldogs would need to win their bowl game. And, they would need to best arch rival, Ole Miss.

The Egg Bowl will happen under the lights on Thanksgiving at Davis Wade Stadium for MSU senior day.

Tennessee State was a perfect opportunity for the Bulldogs to rest players and stress execution. Indeed, starting quarterback Will Rogers II had zero rush attempts.

The final score was 55-10 in a game that saw backup quarterback Chance Lovertich throw 12 passes for more than 100 yards in clean-up duty.

The Bulldogs ought to be ready for the Rebels, so let’s compare where the two are at before the second Egg Bowl of the Mike Leach era in Starkville.

2021 Mississippi State

The Bulldogs represent what good coaching can do. Not only are they, arguably, better than that were supposed to be as a team, but we’ve seen good player development.

Out of the gate, it appeared that Bulldogs fans were in for a tough year. They earned an enormous comeback victory against Louisiana Tech, but the fact that a rally was necessary was concerning.

Fast-forwarding two months, and an even bigger comeback against a far better opponent (Auburn) shows why resiliency and belief matters.

The most surprising aspect of the Mississippi State Bulldogs this year has been the defense. It’s been less surprising to those who follow the team, but even for us, its been surprising.

For me, the unit is clearly lead by one of the best defensive players in the country. Cornerback Martin Emerson could be a generational player. However he does at the next level, my word, he’s been a damn fine college player.

That kind of development and diamond-in-the-rough recruiting is how the Bulldogs can take the next step.

Offensively, Rogers is half of the best quarterback throwdown on the SEC slate this season in the Egg Bowl. (Alabama QB Bryce Young is probably better than both MSU and Ole Miss quarterbacks, but Alabama’s overall superiority makes the matchup not as enticing as the Egg Bowl.)

Rogers was penciled in as the 2021 starter after promising work in 2020; but, it was by no means a lock that he’d be the guy.

He has been the guy.

No one on the Bulldogs has exemplified improvement, buy-in, and execution more than Rogers.

The Bulldogs now sit at 7-4 with big wins against opponents that were, on paper, superior.

I would argue that two losses, Memphis and LSU, that happened in September, would be different if played today.

The Bulldogs might have exceeded preseason expectations, as much as any team in the country.

I don’t know what bowl the Bulldogs will play in, but I hope it’s a power five (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12) opponent just to see how they matchup against say, Penn State or Clemson.

But first, the team up north.

2021 Ole Miss

If there’s a coach that has done as good a job compared to SEC expectations in 2021 as Mike Leach, it’s the Ole Miss head coach, Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin, like Leach, has his Mississippi squad playing well enough to make preseason picks  look foolish.

The Rebels are 9-2, and 5-2 in the SEC. Until Alabama won Saturday, the Rebels still had a chance to play in the SEC Championship game. Now, they control their destiny for second in the West behind Alabama.

Like the Bulldogs, the Rebels are led by a stud quarterback, who will (likely) be in New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation and be starting games in the NFL around this time next year.

Matt Corral, who just declared for the NFL draft, is by far the best player on the Rebels squad.

We will get more into previewing the game later, but for now, I am making it about the QBs.

I understand that quarterbacks don’t play against each other the way offenses play defenses. Rather, they play against each other the way you played H.O.R.S.E. against your sibling, taking turns spinning the rock.

Kiffin and Leach are two exemplary leaders, and it seems like they were made to coach against each other. This Egg Bowl will be fun.

Let’s go. It’s rivalry week.