The SEC and Big 12 hosted two conference games on Thanksgiving with hugely different results. Mississippi State became bowl eligible after a close win in the Egg Bowl, while Texas blew the doors of Texas Tech with their second-highest score of the season.
A lot was on the line at Davis Wade stadium, and a 17-10 overtime win by Mississippi State over Ole Miss ensured the Golden Egg is returning to Starkville for the fourth time in five years. For Whom the Cowbell Toles was awestruck by the Bulldogs defense, which turned the tide of the game with four turnovers.
There is not enough that can be said about the Mississippi State defense in this game. The unit only gave up three points in the contest, meaning they forced more turnovers than points allowed. The four turnovers pushed the Bulldogs' four week total to 14 turnovers. Geoff Collins caught some flack early for his defense, but it is looking quite impressive to close out the season.
Quarterback Bo Wallace played his worst game of the season for the Rebels, throwing for 182 yards and three interceptions in the loss. It was a sobering experience for Red Cup Rebellion, who placed the blame firmly on Wallace's shoulders.
Three interceptions and an overtime fumble later, and the Rebels finish the season 7-5, failing to spoil their rival's bowl chances. Bo Wallace, simply put, played his worst game as an Ole Miss quarterback tonight. We can look at gazillions of plays where, had things moved one way or another by a yard or, hell, even a few inches, the game would have been totally different (such is the nature of one-score games). But you can't look at the overall body of work of this offense tonight and help but be disappointed.
Dan Mullen improved his record to 4-1 in The Egg Bowl, and Team Speed Kills looked at the program's growth with him at the helm.
The win moves Dan Mullen's record to 4-1 in the Egg Bowl, a game that he has sometimes seemed to put at the center of his program's goals. ("The School Up North," "This is our state," etc.) And it propels the Bulldogs into a bowl of the postseason variety for the fourth straight season, a tangible sign of progress for Mullen in the long view -- no Mississippi State coach has done that before, though it doesn't mean quite as much now as it once did. But even another postseason berth can't overcome the feeling that his rebuilding job has leveled off. If this becomes a spark for a big season in 2014, a lot of that talk will disappear.
Texas kept their Big 12 chances alive with an impressive win over Texas Tech, 41-16. The Longhorns' rushing attack was near-unstoppable, running for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Burnt Orange Nation is tipping their hat to the offensive line, which made life easy for the team's running backs.
The game plan called for Texas to exploit the extremely weak Tech rushing defense and boy did Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron deliver with a great game called by Major Applewhite. Credit the offensive line wrecking the Raiders. Each of the two running backs busted the century mark. The dominant rushing performance was punctuated by Case McCoy's second longest career rush from scrimmage of 16 yards late in the 3rd quarter extending a drive which ultimately led to his 2nd rushing touchdown of the season.
The Red Raiders had an inverse result, struggling to do anything on the ground in a game the rushing offense managed to average just 3.4 yards per carry. Inconsistent running mired the entire team, with the team's backs having big plays -- but they were few and far between. Viva the Matadors see the lack of a running attack a major problem, and one that will take time to correct.
Yes, the quarterbacks are a problem, but if a team can't effectively run, it's just not going to work anywhere else. This is the difference between other "spread" teams, like Baylor and Oklahoma St., there's very much the threat of a running game. If I could ask for one Christmas wish, it would be this. To ask for a real deal legitimate running game. The unfortunate part is that this doesn't happen overnight. It's going to take time. Those two programs have had years of being able to recruit an offensive line to suit what they want to do and offensive line coaches that are staples of those respective programs. I hope that the turnaround for the offensive line happens overnight, or during the spring, with some transfers and recruits and true freshmen growing up quickly.
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