Happy Thanksgiving! In a “Turkey Day” tradition, longtime rivals Ole Miss (4-7) and Mississippi State (5-6) will get together tonight and battle for the Golden Egg Trophy. The Bulldogs bested the Rebels last year 35-3, but perhaps the trophy will have a new home beginning tonight.
Here is a preview for the Egg Bowl, along with odds and a free pick.
If there’s one thing that’s certainly working for the Rebels right now, it’s their ability to run the football. Using one of the heaviest run-based offenses in college football, Ole Miss has run for over 400 yards against Vanderbilt and New Mexico, getting over 200 yards on the ground in all their games on a regular basis.
But it wasn’t until two weeks ago where fans saw how they can run against one of the best teams in the nation. Ole Miss torched the LSU Tigers for 402 yards on 44 carries in a 58-37 loss. Freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee was nearly unstoppable, running for 212 yards with four touchdowns. Freshman running back Jerrion Ealy also had a great game, running 13 times for 141 yards against the Tigers.
If Ole Miss is going to beat their in-state rivals, running the football will be the focal point of their game-plan once again. Mississippi State has a solid run defense, but if the Rebels can run against a team of LSU’s caliber, they can run against anyone.
Bad to the Bone
While Mississippi State may not have the same ceiling as Ole Miss when it comes to running the football, they can still make defenses miserable and control the tempo of the game in the process. The Bulldogs hit Texas A&M for 239 yards on the ground, combined for 800-plus yards rushing yards against Abilene Christian and Arkansas, and even averaged over five yards a carry against a stout Alabama defense.
Led by running back Kylin Hill, who has over 150 yards in three of his last four games, State has shown they can grind out yards on the ground against nearly-everyone. And like Plumlee, quarterback Tommy Stevens has shown he can run when he needs to. He also is more of a passer than Plumlee, throwing for 934 yards and nine touchdowns on a completion percentage just under 60 percent.
While Mississippi State will also run, Stevens gives them a little bit more balance in their offense. Expect the Bulldogs to try to control the clock whenever they’re on offense to limit the amount of time Ole Miss’ explosive offense is on the field.
What’s at stake?
For this year’s Egg Bowl, the famous Golden Egg Trophy will be awarded to the winner. But there is more than just a trophy on the line. A Mississippi State win would make them bowl-eligible no matter what at six wins, avoiding any sweat after the season. Meanwhile, Ole Miss would at least have a chance to make a bowl game at 5-7.
Should both teams be 5-7, it will come down to the Academic Progress Rates, or “APR”, of all the 5-7 teams if there aren’t enough bowl teams. It is unlikely both of these teams would make a bowl if each of them were at five wins.
Odds and Pick
The Bulldogs clobbered the Rebels last year and now host this year’s Egg Bowl. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see them listed at -2.5 favorites. But the ability of Ole Miss to dominate in the running game with their dynamic freshmen makes them a threat against anyone, and Mississippi State just doesn’t have the defense to stop it or the offensive firepower to match it. So I’m taking Ole Miss +2.5 to win the Egg Bowl and bring the Golden Egg back to Oxford.