After three straight losses to their only ranked opponents of the season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs bounced back last week against Arkansas, defeating the dysfunctional Razorbacks, 45-14.
And while Ole Miss is 5-6 this season (2-5 SEC), this team is not to be taken lightly. LSU and Texas A&M, who won squeakers against the Rebels, could tell you that.
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has won three straight Egg Bowls since taking over the Bulldogs in 2009.
Mullen said, via ESPN, "I don't have any more respect for (Ole Miss) now than I did last year, or the year before, or the year before that. It's the same to me."
Those are bold words.
Here's a breakdown of the SEC showdown on Saturday.
Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Miss.
When: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Lines (via ScoresAndOdds.com)
Spread: Ole Miss -1.5
I can see why Ole Miss is favored in this game, given the scare it gave LSU last week, but I'm actually giving this game to Mississippi State (see prediction below), so I wouldn't take the spread.
Mississippi State and Ole Miss could conceivably combine for 55 points or more in this clash, given the Bulldogs' run defense and the Rebels' pass defense.
I'm going "Over" here but just barely.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
LB Ferlando Bohanna - Groin - Probable
DE Carlos Thompson - Shoulder - Questionable
RB Charlie Scott - Undisclosed - Questionable
Wesley Pendleton - Ankle - Questionable
Aaron Garbutt - Illness - Questionable
While Mississippi State won't be making a BCS bowl this season, the Bulldogs could land in a big bowl like the Gator Bowl as the SEC's No. 6 seed with a win over the Rebels.
The Rebels need to beat the Bulldogs to go bowling.
Key for Mississippi State Victory: Passing Game
Ole Miss has allowed 3.72 yards per carry this season, tied for 31st in the nation, but the Rebels have generally been torched through the air, ceding 7.6 yards per pass attempt, tied for 84th.
Junior quarterback Tyler Russell has the ability to do damage through the air, which he showed against Arkansas last week when he passed for 274 yards and four touchdowns.
Russell has the potential to distance the Bulldogs on Saturday.
Key for Ole Miss Victory: Bo Wallace, QB
Sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace has the dual-threat ability to cause problems for Mississippi State's defense, as he showed against LSU last week when he threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns (three interceptions) and rushed for 54 yards and two touchdowns.
Mississippi State's pass defense has generally been solid this season (6.7 yards per pass attempt allowed, 14 interceptions), but LSU's Zach Mettenberger was able to do damage through the air just two weeks ago.
One of Mississippi State's biggest weaknesses is its run defense. The Bulldogs have allowed 4.31 yards per carry this season (72nd in the FBS, via CFBStats.com).
Prediction: Mississippi State 30, Ole Miss 27
I think Tyler Russell's performance last week, combined with Ole Miss' troubles against the pass this season, will see Mississippi State emerge victorious on Saturday.
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