The Egg Bowl is a Thanksgiving tradition and there is perhaps no better way to finish off a day full of football and stuffing your face with turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. Whenever Ole Miss and Mississippi State take the field, there is bound to be some shenanigans you have to see to believe, and the coaching matchup of Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach seems to deliver plenty of drama. Kiffin has taken the first two games in their head-to-head matchups in this storied rivalry, and his Rebels are favored to make it three in a row.
But Ole Miss (8-3, 4-3 SEC) was rocked its last time out and had a few holes exposed that Mississippi State (7-4, 3-4) will hope to capitalize on in this year's Egg Bowl. Here's what to know about this year's rivalry game.
Thanksgiving Day: Mississippi State at No. 20 Ole Miss
When Mississippi State Has the Ball
Mississippi State has had plenty of success throwing the football this season, which you should expect from a team coached by Mike Leach. Will Rogers leads the SEC and is among the nation's top quarterbacks with 3,474 yards and 32 touchdown passes and just five interceptions this season. Last week in a tune-up game against FCS East Tennessee State, Rogers passed for 301 yards and five touchdowns before getting an early rest.
The Bulldogs have a solid running back combo with Jo'quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson, with each having at least 400 rushing yards this year and 11 combined touchdowns. Ole Miss' defense has been susceptible to both the run (4.9 ypc, 13 TDs in SEC-only games) and pass (16 TDs vs. 2 INTs), but you know the Rebels will try and key in on disrupting Rogers and Leach's patented Air Raid. One way for the Rebels to do this would be with pressure, but that's not this defense's forte (16 sacks in seven conference games).
When Ole Miss Has the Ball
Ole Miss put up 703 yards of offense last week against Arkansas, but three turnovers held the Rebels back in a 42-27 loss to the Razorbacks. So it would seem safe to say as long as the Rebels hold on to the football, they should be in good shape. Ole Miss has the SEC's top running game with 31 rushing touchdowns. Freshman Quinshon Judkins has a conference-leading 1,383 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground this season. TCU transfer Zach Evans is approaching a 1,000-yard season as well.
Quarterback Jaxson Dart has proven to be a valuable asset for Lane Kiffin's offense as well with room to improve. Dart has passed for 2,363 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 552 yards. But he will need to be wary against a Mississippi State defense that leads the conference with 14 interceptions. Emmanuel Forbes is tied for the national lead with six picks, and he's taken three of those back for touchdowns.
If there is one thing you can count on seeing in the Egg Bowl, it is a tense game. Ole Miss has taken each of the last two meetings in the series but the two rivals have split the last six matchups. This year's game will be full of offense and go down to the wire, and a crazy turnover likely will decide the fate of the game we will all be thankful for.
Prediction: Ole Miss 36, Mississippi State 33
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