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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Ole Miss Sports Editor talks Egg Bowl

Ole Miss is looking to capture its first win in Starkville since 2003, when Eli Manning beat Jackie Sherrill in his last game at Mississippi State 31-0. 

The good news for the Rebels is that this is the most talented team they will take into Starkville since then and arguably ever.  

The bad news for the Rebels is that it’s Dak Prescott’s senior night, and Mississippi State will be fired up to get a win for the best quarterback in their program’s history.  

Last year, Ole Miss struggled to run the football throughout the season, but were able to find success in the running game against State.  This forced more players from State to enter the box, and the Rebels were able to exploit that hitting Evan Engram down the seam off of play action. 

Mississippi State needs to be able to stop Ole Miss from running the football if they’re going to have a successful defensive night.  State has given up over 300 yards passing to Kyle Allen, Jeff Driskell, and Brandon Allen.  While all three of those quarterbacks have seen success in the SEC, I would argue that Chad Kelly is better.  

Kelly, unlike his predecessor, is able to take the tops off of defenses. Bo Wallace, while accurate and undervalued by most Ole Miss fans, never had the arm strength that Kelly possesses. If Mississippi State can’t stop Ole Miss from running the football and has to commit more people to stop the run, leaving the likes of Laquon Treadwell, Evan Engram, and Damore’ea Stringfellow in single coverage, Kelly could have a field day in Davis-Wade. 

Ole Miss has been successful in running the football since All-American left tackle Laremy Tunsil returned from suspension, allowing Fahn Cooper to switch over to right tackle.  Another factor in the Rebels’ resurgence in rushing the football has been Akeem Judd and the pistol principles that have been instilled by offensive coordinator Dan Werner.  Werner has assumed much of the play calling duties, head coach Hugh Freeze said, and Werner has implemented the pistol into the offense, allowing bigger backs, such as Akeem Judd, to get downhill quicker. 

On the defensive side of the football, the same issues that I talked about for Mississippi State apply for Ole Miss. Dak Prescott is an amazing football player.  I would argue he’s the best football player to come through Mississippi State.  Unlike many people in Oxford, I would argue he’s a very good passer.  I think Prescott can make enough throws to have success on Ole Miss’ secondary. 

The Rebels’O secondary was abused by Will Grier (R.I.P.), Paxton Lynch, and Brandon Allen.  Dak Prescott is better than Grier and Allen, and just as good as Paxton Lynch. If Prescott is afforded time to throw the football, he will have a field day on Ole Miss’ secondary.  

Ole Miss had success last year when they kept Prescott inside the pocket.  The game plan was successful last year, but I would argue that Prescott is a much better passer this year than he was last year.  Prescott is still deadly when he gets outside of the pocket and makes plays with his legs.  I think the game plan for Ole Miss is still to try to keep Prescott inside of the pocket and make him beat you from there, the problem is I think Prescott is good enough to sit in the pocket and beat you. 

The key for the Rebels will be pressure.  Prescott was hit a lot last year in Oxford.  If Ole Miss can get that kind of pressure on him again, it could rattle him.   If Prescott can just sit in the pocket all day, like Kelly, he’ll have a great game, because he’s a great quarterback. 

You would think with my choice of the phrase “field day” I would think this would be a high scoring game, and to a point I think it can be.  

My issue with that is this: I’m not sure either offensive line can block either defensive line’s superstars.  I think Chris Jones will be an absolute handful for the interior of the Ole Miss offensive line to handle.  I think Robert Nkemdiche will be an absolute handful for the interior of Mississippi State’s offensive line to handle.  If those two guys aren’t blocked, it could be a long day for both quarterbacks.  

I think one could argue that Ole Miss is the more talented team.  Ole Miss, when they’re at their best, can play with and beat anyone in the country.  They walked in to Tuscaloosa and won two months ago.  However, one could also argue that Ole Miss isn’t near as consistent.  Ole Miss played badly in Memphis and Gainesville.  There’s no getting around that.  Mississippi State, on the other hand, has played consistent for most of the year, and I would even argue has gotten better since the loss in College Station.  

Ole Miss’ success, or lack thereof, on Saturday will depend on which Rebel team shows up in Davis-Wade stadium.  Does the team from Memphis or Gainesville show up for the Rebels? If they do, it won’t be pretty.  If the Rebel team from last week against LSU or the one from Tuscaloosa shows up, it’ll be a different story. 

Ole Miss 31 Mississippi State 28

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Ole Miss Sports Editor talks Egg Bowl