Nov 28, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (1) advances the ball against Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Jamerson Love (5) during the game at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs defeat the Mississippi Rebels with a score of 17-10 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
The Battle for the Golden Egg. Mississippi State owns it, Ole Miss wants it. The spotlight has been on the state of Mississippi all year, and it will be bright once again in the final week as SEC Nation and CBS come to Oxford for a 2:30 CST kickoff.
MSU is vying for a spot in the College Football Playoff, and would still be alive for a SEC championship with a win. Ole Miss is looking to spoil the Bulldogs season and make a top tier bowl game to cap an excellent season. This game is huge.
MSU rushing offense: 247 YPG (19th) vs. Ole Miss rushing defense: 131 YPG (28th)
MSU passing offense: 265 YPG (40th) vs. Ole Miss passing defense: 179 YPG (13th)
Ole Miss rushing offense: 164 YPG (64th) vs. MSU rushing defense: 120 YPG (18th)
Ole Miss passing offense: 271 YPG (31st) vs. MSU passing defense: 281 YPG (120th)
WILL HUGH FREEZE OPEN THE OFFENSE UP?
The answer to this question will go a long way in determining the tempo and scoring output in this game. With an offense void of a power running game and without Laquon Treadwell, will Ole Miss play conservative and seek to gain yardage on short to intermediate throws or will they take shots down-field.
The knock on State’s defense is the secondary. The knock on Bo Wallace is bad throws down-field. Both are a little over-blown in my opinion, but nevertheless how will Freeze play it. Last year he went ultra conservative, and that was with Donte Moncreif and Treadwell on the field.
Leremy Tunsil’s health is in question, so protection could be an issue in the vertical passing game. What’s more, Wallace is still suffering the after-effects of the minor injury against Arkansas. All signs point to Freeze sticking with the safer throws this offense is accustomed to, although with nothing really to lose in a rivalry game where your rival has everything to lose you never really know for sure.
HOW WILL THE LANDSHARK DEFENSE HOLD UP?
Ole Miss’ defense has been excellent all season. They are 1st in the SEC in scoring defense and 2nd in total defense. The 30 points they gave up to Arkansas had a lot to do with field position, so it was a little bit misleading, however, that game against the Hogs could have a lingering effect. If there’s one thing this defense doesn’t have, it’s depth. Arkansas is a punishing team, how will the Rebs hold up a week later?
The Landshark D is solid everywhere, but in particular the secondary. They’ve had some trouble with teams who like to pound it up the middle – LSU, Auburn and Arkansas. Not too much trouble, but some. It’s their weak spot you could say. That plays well into MSU’s hands with Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson.
Mississippi State is 1st in the SEC in total offense and 2nd in scoring offense. It’s strength vs. strength in this match-up. Save for the first half against Alabama, Prescott and the boys have moved the ball well against everyone. I wouldn’t expect too much scoring in the first half of this one either, but look for what happens in the second half. This could be where MSU wears them down and points could be put up. Much of OM’s chances in this game will rely on the defense to remain stout for four quarters.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
In the last 14 games of this series, the home team has won 12 times. The only two times the road team won were in 2003 when a 10-3 Ole Miss team defeated a 2-10 MSU team; and in 2010 when a 9-4 MSU team defeated a 4-8 Ole Miss team. Really good road teams against really bad home teams.
In more recent history involving these two head coaches, MSU came to Oxford in 2012 expecting to win with a 8-3 record while OM was rebuilding and hoping to make a bowl – Ole Miss won. In 2013, Ole Miss was 7-4 and the favorite in Starkville while MSU was trying to survive a brutal schedule and make a bowl – MSU won.
All signs in this game point to Mississippi State winning. The momentum, the stakes, the match-ups. You could argue the Bulldogs are better at every position except in the secondary. But the Rebels have the home field advantage. Since 1999 that has been the determining factor in this type of matchup – OM is 8-3 and still a solid team.
EVERYTHING IS ON THE LINE
This is a tremendous chance for Mississippi State. Just the sheer fact that winning this game would ensure an 11-1 season would prove to everyone MSU can win and win big in the SEC. Even if nothing else worked out, this would be a remarkable season capped off with a trip to a major bowl game (the new BCS games) and the Golden Egg Trophy. But that’s the very least – so much more is at stake.
A Bulldog win would allow the team and fanbase to watch the Iron Bowl vigorously pulling for the Auburn Tigers in order to clinch an out-right SEC West championship. A legit shot at a SEC title would come next week, and a shot at a top 1 or 2 seed in the College Football Playoff.
A win in the Egg Bowl without a SEC West crown could still mean a trip to the inaugural College Football Playoffs. What a tremendous opportunity it would be to play on such a stage on the first time such stage has been rolled out. It would truly usher in a new era in college football….and the Dawgs would have a shot at a national title.
A loss and all those dreams are dead – plus you lost to your rival. A 10-2 season would still be great, but those goals that are out there today would turn to dust. This game is as big of a game as MSU has ever played. There have been a few of those this season, but it’s time for one more. It’s our time. It’s OUR State. Let’s bring back the Golden Egg and be true champions of Mississippi!