Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State: 10 Things We Learned in Rebels Loss
Mississippi State shocked Mississippi in a 17-10 overtime win in the 2013 edition of the Egg Bowl. Bragging rights go back to the team from Starkville, as the Bulldogs have now beaten Ole Miss in four of the last five meetings.
But besides the usual, what did we learn from the Thanksgiving matchup?
Well, one team secured a bowl bid, there is a superstar quarterback in the making and a popular defensive player may have a future at another position.
Just your typical rivalry game to kick off an exciting weekend.
Running Game for Both Teams Must Improve
What in the world happened to LaDarius Perkins? He had five yards on 12 carries. As a team, Mississippi State ran the ball 43 times for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss wasn't much better, running the ball 35 times for 117 yards.
Give credit to great performances by both defenses, but those rushing numbers by the two offenses must improve. A defensive player can't be third on your team in rushing, and a quarterback who played a quarter shouldn't have the same number of rushing yards as your starting running back.
The lack of rushing production puts a lot of pressure on both teams' signal-callers. The running game must get better if either team is hoping to win its bowl game.
Special Teams Is Huge in College Football
We see it time and time again, but very few ever want to take it seriously.
Special teams may be the most important unit in college football. Forget the offense that averages 100 points or the defense that puts together highlight reels, the kickers and returners are where the true value is at.
Evan Sobiesk missed a kick that could have ended the game in regulation, Andrew Ritter also missed a kick and Devon Bell had one of his punts blocked that resulted in Mississippi's only touchdown. Speaking of punting, field position played a huge part in this game, and both punters averaged more than 40 yards per punt.
Special teams deserves more love.
Mississippi State's Defense Is the Real Deal
The Rebels offense may have more playmakers than any other offense in the SEC. It came into this game averaging more than 30 points per game and ranked in the Top 40 in both passing and rushing yardage.
Mississippi State held that offense to only 318 yards and 10 points. The Rebels also converted only eight of 20 third-down attempts and turned the ball over four times.
Uh, well done.
The Bulldogs live up to their name on the defensive side of the ball. The secondary flies to the ball and drops the hammer on ball-carriers whenever the opportunity presents itself, while the defensive line generates a solid pass rush.
These boys can play.
Robert Nkemdiche Could Play Running Back
Hugh Freeze stole a page out of Jim Mora's playbook and began using defensive players on offense. The wrinkle was throwing freshman Robert Nkemdiche onto the field as a running back.
The result was four carries for 21 yards.
Nkemdiche finished third on the team in rushing yards!
The college football phenom has the build to become a two-way player, but the coaching staff must mix it up if this type of stuff is going to continue. While Nkemdiche moved the chains on one carry, the others resulted in a loss due to the defense knowing he was going to get the ball.
Find ways to avoid defenses from loading up the box, and you'll be presenting them lots of problems.
Dak Prescott Is a Star
I've been high on Dak Prescott from the first time I saw him play. And I've been waiting for him to have that moment that makes every college football fan take notice.
Against Ole Miss, it finally happened.
The sophomore wasn't even supposed to play in the game due to injury, but he stepped onto the field anyway when the offense just couldn't get going. Not only did he pass for 115 yards, but he also ran the ball nine times for 29 yards and the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
Prescott has the size, arm strength and the athleticism to become an impact college football player. Forget waiting for the bandwagon to get full, I'm driving this bad boy over the speed limit.
Bo Wallace Still Runs Hot and Cold
Bo Wallace can be magnificent, or he can stink it up and cost your team the game. Tonight we saw the ugly Wallace.
The Rebels turned the ball over four times and all of them were from the junior quarterback. He threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball in overtime to end the game. He could have also thrown more than three picks if the defenders had been able to hold onto the football.
Wallace completed 65 percent of his passes and made plays to put the team in position. But when it was time to execute, he just couldn't get it done.
Consistency continues to be an issue for the signal-caller.
Bo Wallace's Sister Doesn't Like Hugh Freeze
Speaking of Bo Wallace, his sister doesn't seem to like head coach Hugh Freeze, as she took to her Twitter account to throw him under the bus.
Wallace led the team with 12 rushes and was allowed to call his own number in overtime to try and extend the game, something that wouldn't have occurred if he didn't have the trust of his coach. He also probably wouldn't have even been on the field.
The junior quarterback turned the ball over four times. It's hard to trust anybody who's that careless with the football.
People should really think twice before hitting the send button.
Mississippi State Is Going Bowling
It wasn't the prettiest journey, but the Bulldogs have earned an extra game with the win. Mississippi State managed to win back-to-back overtime games to qualify for a bowl game for the fourth straight season.
Turns out this Dan Mullen guy can coach after all, huh?
At one point in the season, Mississippi State had lost four of its six games and a bowl appearance seemed quite bleak. Bouncing back and continuing to fight proved that the players and coaching staff still believed.
This win not only earned state bragging rights for another year, but it guarantees another SEC program will participate in a bowl game during the holidays.
Ole Miss May Not Be Pulling Away After All
With Ole Miss rising and Mississippi State stuck in mediocrity, some fans and analysts were questioning whether the Rebels were becoming the more popular team in the state. The gap isn't nearly as wide as it once was, but this win proves that the Bulldogs are still to be reckoned with.
This was a hard fought game, and the Bulldogs were the team left standing. There's something to be said for that. Weak teams that are falling off a cliff don't hang around and withstand punch after punch.
The win in the Egg Bowl should help with recruiting and remind fans that Mississippi State may still be the best team in town.
Both Teams Are on the Rise
You can have the final verdict in which team has the advantage over the other, but this game was a clear indication that both of these programs are heading in the right direction.
Dak Prescott is only a sophomore. Chris Jones and Robert Nkemdiche are both freshmen defensive players who are blossoming into superstars before our very eyes. And I haven't even discussed Laquon Treadwell, Benardrick McKinney and Jaylen Walton, all of whom are young players with promising futures.
The future is bright for both of these programs and it wouldn't be surprising if either is playing for an SEC title within a couple of years.
Win or lose, fans of both teams should be happy.
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