GAMEDAY: The Egg Bowl
Nov. 26, 2016

Nov. 26, 2016

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By Dylan Edwards,

OXFORD, Miss - This season has been a difficult one for Ole Miss. The Rebels have battled adversity and injuries from the very beginning. However, Saturday afternoon presents an opportunity for Ole Miss to send the 2016 seniors out the right way.

Ole Miss (5-6) hosts in-state rival Mississippi State (4-7) with a chance to extend its winning streak in the Egg Bowl to three while also grabbing bowl eligibility in the process. Currently, the Rebels have held on the Golden Egg for more than 700 days.

“It’s Egg Bowl week,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “That should be enough motivation for our players and coaches to prepare accordingly. It’s a game that means an extraordinary amount to this university, to our fan base and to theirs. It’s going to be a great challenge.”

Both starting quarterbacks will be getting their first tastes of the magnolia state rivalry. Shea Patterson will look to return to his Texas A&M second half form in the rivalry game after the offense struggled some in Nashville.

“It’s great that we have some extra time this week with classes not in session that he can get some extra film,” Freeze said. “We can make sure he feels great about what we’re trying to do this Saturday. There were a lot of good things he did, but still a ways to go.”

Nick Fitzgerald presents a challenge for the Rebel defense with the way he can move around and make plays with his legs. He’s eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground in four of his last five games. Outside of the Alabama game, Fitzgerald has operated the offense on a high level for the Bulldogs through the closing portion of the season.

“We have to win first downs. They’re like a lot of us, when they get into their third-down packages with a quarterback like that, it’s very difficult to plan for and to stop and have success. We have to win first down against a guy like him. I think that’s a critical stat to follow in this game, being able to win that down and get them into third-and-long.”

Both defenses will have something to prove in the final game of the regular season. Ole Miss and Mississippi State rank 13th and 14th respectively in points allowed per game.

“Defensively, they’ve given up yards and points, as have we, and we’ve got to be sure that we’re scoring touchdowns in the red zone when we get those opportunities, because it seems, as you watch them and you watch us, that it could easily be who scores the most touchdowns,” Freeze said.”

Ole Miss’ senior class is made up of players that signed on to play in the Red and Blue before Freeze had established the standard the program is currently at. They have helped the Rebels to back-to-back Access Bowls, including a Sugar Bowl victory that all Ole Miss fans will remember for a long time to come. This game gives the opportunity for those seniors to go out the way they deserve, in a bowl game with the Egg Bowl trophy nestled away in Oxford for another 365 days.

“By the people who are very close to the program and those of us who have worked with them, there’s no doubt in our mind that they have rejuvenated and made Ole Miss football relevant again,” Freeze said. “That will be the memory.”

The Egg Bowl kicks off at 2:30 on SEC Network. Ole Miss looks for its first three-game win streak in the series since 2002-04. Each of the last two meetings have been decided by two scores.






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