Today is the final Egg Bowl for seniors like Mike Hilton and Chief Brown.
Nov. 28, 2015
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STARKVILLE, Miss. - It’s a game of high stakes. In-state bragging rights, the Golden Egg trophy and the SEC West are on the line for the Rebels as they hit the road to face off against the Mississippi State Bulldogs (6:15 p.m. CT, ESPN2).
Currently, the Rebels are second in the SEC West. An Alabama loss to Auburn and an Ole Miss win against the Bulldogs will put Ole Miss in the SEC Championship Game for the first time in school history.
No. 18 Ole Miss (8-3, 5-2) and No. 21 Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3 SEC) meet as ranked opponents in back-to-back Egg Bowls for the first time in series history. The Bulldogs have dropped games to LSU, Texas A&M and Alabama this season. Mississippi State comes off a thrilling win at Arkansas last week, edging the Razorbacks 51-50 in Fayetteville. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze knows the challenge that comes with playing on the road in rivalry games.
“It’s difficult to play on the road in general,” said Freeze. “Add it to a rivalry game, it adds more fuel to it. And if you add that both teams have been playing good football the last four years, you have an advantage playing at home. It may be one of the advantages that help in the outcome.”
This will be the last Egg Bowl for several Ole Miss seniors, including Mississippi natives Justin Bell, Chief Brown, Quintavius Burdette, Woodrow Hamilton, C.J. Johnson, Aaron Morris and Channing Ward.
The Egg Bowl will feature two of the top quarterbacks in the SEC. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott is responsible for 31 touchdowns, including nine rushing touchdowns on the year. His wide outs, Fred Ross and De’Runnya Wilson have combined for over 1,500 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns.
“I think they are true to who they think they are,” said Freeze. “They are throwing the ball with great efficiency and great accuracy. They have really good receivers. They are very similar to a lot of teams that we have played where the quarterback can be the biggest threat to throwing and running it. He’s very talented at both, and they are being very true to who they are. They’ll spread you out from sideline to sideline, and they have a lot of options once the ball is snapped.”
Prescott will get to know the Landshark defense one last time, led by All-American Robert Nkemdiche. The SEC and national player of the week after the Rebels’ win on the road against No. 2 Alabama, Nkemdiche brings constant pressure in opponents’ backfields. The Hornung Award finalist leads a defense that ranks fifth in the SEC in tackles for loss per game, third in takeaways and tied for second in interceptions and defensive touchdowns. Nkemdiche has three touchdowns on offense and blocked a field goal in the game against UT-Martin.
Last year, Nkemdiche and the Rebels helped limit the Bulldog offense to 17 points and 445 total yards, as Mississippi State converted only 8-of-21 third-down tries in a 31-17 Rebel win that knocked the Bulldogs out of playoff contention.
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly has been phenomenal this season, and is on pace to break most of the school’s single-season passing records. He leads an offense that has set single-season school records for points, touchdowns and passing yards. Kelly leads the SEC in passing yards, points responsible for and total offense. He is the first quarterback in school history to lead Ole Miss to wins over Alabama, Auburn and LSU in the same season.
“It speaks a lot for our programs that our quarterbacks are playing as well as anyone in this conference,” said Freeze. “Hopefully that helps us get the next great one.”
Kelly will look toward wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who leads the SEC in receptions and receiving yards per game. The Biletnikoff Award finalist has hauled in 72 passes for 1,060 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
“Treadwell is the best (wide receiver) I have ever coached,” said Freeze. “Donte (Moncrief) was really good. Mike Wallace was good. I think Laquon is probably the most complete. I think Donte was really close. I think if Donte would have stayed his senior year, he would have been up there. It is tit for tat with those two. I’d have to say he is the most talented that I have ever coached.”
This is the 112th meeting between the Rebels and Bulldogs and the 88th meeting since the Battle of the Golden Egg tradition started in 1927. Ole Miss holds a 62-43-6 advantage overall and a 20-14-3 edge in Starkville. In Egg Bowls, Ole Miss leads 56-26-5 overall and 18-12-3 in Starkville.
The Last Meeting
|#4 Mississippi State||17
November 29, 2014
Golden Egg Trophy Returns to Oxford
No. 18 Ole Miss played inspired football on both sides of the ball and carried off the Golden Egg Trophy in a 31-17 win over No. 4 Mississippi State on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.