Nov 22, 2014; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Ole Miss Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace (14) falls to the gourd after an injury on a play in the first quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
I must admit, I decided to write this piece for the Egg Bowl back when Mississippi State was playing Arkansas and Ole Miss was playing Auburn. I wanted to step out on a limb. It was going to take a lot more research to make a convincing reason why it was clear that Mississippi State was the better team. I believed that was the case then, and I was willing to take any heat that came my way for making such a bold statement. But things have changed drastically in that time period.
If you really believe that Ole Miss is the better team coming into this game, then I’d like to know why. Their starting quarterback has an ankle the size of a couple of grapefruits, the offensive line has some serious depth issues, and is banged up. The best playmaker Ole Miss has won’t be able to play football again until the calendar flips to 2015. Add all of this together, and you get what happened in Fayetteville this past Saturday. The Rebels were beat up and down the field all day long and thoroughly embarrassed by the Razorbacks.
The only thing giving the Rebels any hope at all is the defense. Their defense is as advertised. They are fast and powerful. But they also have shown that if you can pound them with the running game, then you can beat them. Mississippi State would rather run the ball than pass it. They want to beat you with their physicality. It’s the way Ole Miss has lost all three of their games, and it was the recipe Alabama was using to beat the Rebels before they inexplicably abandoned that strategy.
I’m trying to do everything I can to figure out what might allow the Rebels to have a chance. Home field is nice, and it would have worried me more if the Bulldogs were playing this game in Oxford and the Rebels were healthy. They aren’t. I must be missing something though, because the Bulldogs are only about a point favorite right now. I don’t know what that is, but there must be something that Vegas sees that I simply can’t.
The Rebels had a great season going and then it fell apart. With everything still on the table, an SEC Championship and College Football Playoff berth, the Rebels went out and played their worst game. Now they have nothing to play for except a chance to spoil our season. Had they not had such lofty goals earlier in the season, I would think that would be sufficient motivation. It might keep them in the game for a little bit longer now, but if Mississippi State is able to push a lead out to two scores or more, the Rebels will fold. It’s not a knock on Ole Miss. The best teams are guilty of it. It happened to Alabama last season in the Sugar Bowl. It happened to Florida a few years ago against Louisville. It’s just hard to get up for a game that is basically meaningless to you.
And I know what you’re thinking if you’re an Ole Miss fan reading this: you can’t wait to throw this in my face if Ole Miss were to win this Saturday. I’d probably be the same way if an Ole Miss site was saying it about the Bulldogs. If Mississippi State loses this Saturday, it will be because the Bulldogs did more to lose the game than Ole Miss did to win.