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Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss Football Prediction and Preview

Mississippi State (MSU) vs. Ole Miss Football Prediction and Preview

Mississippi State (MSU) vs. Ole Miss Football Prediction and Preview

In case you weren't aware, this is THE game in the Magnolia State. It's Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss, otherwise known as the Egg Bowl, and it is glorious. The two rivals have fluctuated in relevance over the years but this "knife fight in a muddy ditch" as a colleague once called it, is never without an elevated amount of drama.

The host Rebels (3-4) had last week off after the game with Texas A&M was postponed for COVID-19 concerns. So they got to watch the Bulldog battle in Athens and get patched up from injuries.

So, what do you think of moral victories? Because that is sort of what Mississippi State (2-5) got in a hard-fought, nip-and-tuck 31-24 loss at Georgia. I don't think anyone saw that one being that close, especially considering the fact that MSU went to Athens with only 49 available scholarship players. Still, Will Rogers and Co. made this a helluva game. What does that do for the Bulldogs going into the Egg Bowl? Well first and foremost it gives them some much-needed confidence.

It also doesn't hurt that Mississippi State has won the last two meetings with Ole Miss and three of the last four Egg Bowls. So can Mike Leach make it three in a row for the Bulldogs in his first taste of this rivalry or will Lane Kiffin help his Rebels defend their home turn in his first Egg Bowl?

Mississippi State at Ole Miss

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 4 p.m. ET

TV: SEC Network

Spread: Ole Miss -9.5

When Mississippi State Has the Ball

Well lookee here, we found an offense. After weeks of punchless-ness (if that is a word), the Bulldogs finally got a shot in the arm vs. Georgia. Head coach Mike Leach had his freshman quarterback Will Rogers make a lot of quick throws underneath the Bulldogs' coverage and with an even tempo. He ended up hitting on 79 percent of his passes for 336 yards without throwing a pick. With this new-found confidence, Mississippi State's offense should be able to pad its stats against the worst defense in the SEC.

Play clean, again. Against Georgia, the Maroons threw zero interceptions, fumbled nary a single time and committed just three penalties. That's really solid. And it is also a huge reason why the visiting Bulldogs competed until the final whistle against those other Bulldogs. If they repeat that performance, the Bullies have a real shot at beating their hated rivals in Oxford.

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The Reese debut. The Ole Miss defense has been a liability, giving up 536 yards and 40.9 points per game. But there is help on the way in the form of Georgia transfer safety Otis Reese. He was cleared to play by the NCAA this past week and is called "one of the best defensive players on the team" according to head coach Lane Kiffin. The former four-star recruit has been practicing with the team since the summer but will finally get into game action here. And not a moment too soon for that suffering Rebel defense.

When Ole Miss Has the Ball

Fast-break football. This Rebels team is faster than a freakin' flash. This offense averages 565 yards and 41 points per game. In their last two games, they've scored 54 and 59 points and quarterback Matt Corral has hit a staggering 92 percent of his passes for an equally astounding 925 yards. Twenty-five of those connections have gone to Elijah Moore to the tune of 563 yards and five touchdowns. And it's no secret that Moore has some extra motivation for this year's game considering the role he played in the outcome of last year's Egg Bowl.

Strength vs. strength. The most interesting showdown on Saturday will be the SEC-best running game (Ole Miss, averaging 213 rushing ypg) going up against the SEC's third-best run defense (Mississippi State, holding opponents to 110 ypg). Keep an eye on how Rebels running back Jerrion Ealy does in this one, as he is fifth in the SEC with 87 yards per game on the ground. He'll be a huge key.

Be Bulldog tough. The Bulldogs must play their best defensive game of the year to give themselves a chance. Last week they sacked Georgia's JT Daniels three times, made 11 tackles for a loss, and held the home team eight rushing yards. The only thing they didn't do was force a turnover. They'll need a couple here to make this a success. Of course, some QB sacks and TFLs won't hurt either.

Final Analysis

Barring another ridiculously-dumb dog-peeing recreation in the end zone (are you paying attention Mr. Moore?), the Rebels should win this one. However as you know, in a rivalry game like this anything can happen. And I mean anything. To reiterate, the Rebels lost last year's game when Moore lifted his leg like a dog to pee in the end zone after a touchdown.

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He won't be such a numbskull this time. And the Rebels will win.

Prediction: Ole Miss 45, Mississippi State 38

Podcast: Week 13 Preview and Predictions + Interview with Kirk Herbstreit

— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.