THE REFLECTOR SPORTS EDITOR
I think the Egg Bowl will ultimately come down to if Mississippi State can stop Bo Wallace through the air and on the ground. The Bulldog defense has given up some big plays through the air all season, so if Wallace is allowed to air the ball out down the field, he could have a big day. MSU did, however, do a pretty good job stopping the deep ball against Alabama, excluding one big play from Amari Cooper.
The front seven from the defense though should be able to have some success controlling the line scrimmage and stopping the run. The Bulldogs have made a living this season setting up shop in the other team’s backfield and stopping the run. With Wallace’s injured ankle, I’m not sure he will be able to move around and make plays. The offense was stagnant against Arkansas last week when Wallace could not run or make the passes down the field. If MSU can get pressure up front on Wallace and cannot move in the pocket to make plays, the Ole Miss offense may run into trouble. Junior quarterback Dak Prescott, the hero of last year’s Egg Bowl, will be counted on to make plays throughout the game. The offense is built around Prescott’s abilities, and against Ole Miss’s ball-hawking defense, the run will become even more important. Prescott and junior running back Josh Robinson teamed up to be one of the most dangerous one-two punches running the football this season. However, over the past few games, head coach Dan Mullen has not been giving Robinson the ball between the tackles. That should change Saturday. Prescott and Robinson should be getting a heavy workload up the middle through out the game.
De’Runnya Wilson and Jameon Lewis have battled injuries this season at the wide receiver position, but both should healthy for the Egg Bowl. This tandem pushes the Bulldog offense into another level where each receiver can take advantage of one-on-one coverage. When both are on the field along with Prescott and Robinson, defenses have to decided to either stack the box and stop the run or keep players in coverage. That is when the Bulldog offense is at its best; when the other team has to decide which to stop and MSU calls an audible to do the opposite of what the defense is planning to stop.
I think that the Bulldogs will pull the game out, but it will be close.
Mississippi State 31, Ole Miss 24
THE REFLECTOR COPY EDITOR, SUN HERALD CORRESPONDENT
For much of the last decade, the highly coveted Golden Egg trophy has lost most of its luster. But the historic seasons both Ole Miss and Mississippi State have showcased this year have given polish and pride to not only the trophy, but the state of Mississippi.
For the first time since 1999, and just the third time in the last 57 seasons, the No. 4 Bulldogs and No. 18 Rebels meet on the field both nationally ranked.
The Bulldogs certainly have much more to lose Saturday than the Rebels have to gain. With a victory, the Bulldogs will finish with 11 overall wins and seven conference wins for the first time in school history. MSU will keep its slim SEC West title hopes alive (with some help from Auburn), and perhaps, more importantly, the Dogs will hold a place in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Offensively, MSU enters the game with the advantage. The Dogs average 39 points and an SEC-best 511 yards per game. Ole Miss’s offense has been stricken with injuries, but quarterback Bo Wallace has an opportunity to put up career numbers against a Bulldog defense that allows 281 yards a game through the air. The Rebels are coming off their worst performance of the season and have dropped three-straight conference games. Six turnovers plagued the Rebels in the loss to Arkansas, but if they can take care of the football, Ole Miss has a good shot of pulling off the upset.
The Rebels have the advantage on defense for multiple reasons. Aside from taking advantage of the early-season struggles of LSU, the Bulldogs have not faced as stiff of a pass defense this season. The Rebels are also best in the league in 3rd down conversions and forced turnovers. If the Rebels can take away the pass and force the MSU offense to be one-dimensional, the Bulldogs will be in for a long night.
Finally, the Rebels will take Vaught-Hemingway for the last time in 2014. Nineteen Rebels will play their final home game in Red and Blue with nothing on their mind other than playing spoiler to their in-state rival.
I think the Bulldogs will come away victors by the end of the night, but I expect late-game dramatics as only any classic Egg Bowl can provide.
Mississippi State 31, Ole Miss 27
THE DAILY MISSISSIPPIAN SPORTS EDITOR
The battle for the Golden Egg trophy has lost some of its luster.
Three straight conference losses for the Rebels and a hurt ankle for senior quarterback Bo Wallace in his final game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium does not give the Rebels hope in their showdown against in-state rival Mississippi State.
The 2013 Egg Bowl still haunts the minds of Rebel fans, thanks to a brilliant comeback performance in an overtime win led by Mississippi State’s junior quarterback Dak Prescott.
A lot more is on the line for he Bulldogs. A possible SEC West title is still at stake, but more importantly a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff is within reach.
Early in the season, the 2014 Egg Bowl game had the potential to be the game of the year with both teams once carrying undefeated records at one point. Nothing is at stake for the Rebels this time except for bragging rights and the opportunity to spoil any chance Mississippi State has at the playoff and SEC west crown.
Even though the stakes aren’t as high for the Rebels, I expect the team to come out with a certain fire in their eyes that has been missing in the last three conference match ups. Playing your rival should give you that extra motivation to play harder than ever before.
Stopping Dak Prescott and the Mississippi State offense is a tall order. Prescott is the true definition of a dual-threat quarterback. Prescott has 2714 passing yards for the season with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season, also adding 891 yards on the ground with 12 touchdowns. Prescott is the second leading rusher behind junior running back Josh Robinson, who has over 1,000 yards on the season with 11 scores. Stopping the big, physical wide receivers De’Runnya Wilson and Jameon Lewis will also give the Rebel defense problems.
The offense can be productive against a mediocre Mississippi State secondary, but it all depends on the health of Bo Wallace. Wallace could not put much pressure on his hurt ankle against Arkansas and passes floated for too long and resulted in interceptions. If Wallace is healthy, I can see him making big plays in the passing game and running game to keep this contest close.
Ultimately, Mississippi State has a lot more to play for and they’ll be motivated to take down Ole Miss on the road. I think this game will be close by the fourth quarter, but Dak Prescott will be too much for the Rebels too handle and the Bulldogs pull away.
Mississippi State 28, Ole Miss 17