Ole Miss entered the season without hopes of reaching a bowl game, due to self-sanctions amid its ongoing NCAA to-do. Back in April, Rebels AD Ross Bjork joked about giving every game of the regular season a bowl name anyway, for motivation purposes.
Well, the Rebels just won a game with “Bowl” in its name anyway (even if it was only added to the series’ name in the 1970s by a desperate newspaper), hanging on for a win in the Egg Bowl against archrival Mississippi State, 31-28. Thus ends a bizarre 2017 for the 6-6 Rebels and the interim tenure of coach Matt Luke.
The Egg Bowl was its typical debacle self, with five MSU turnovers, 22 total penalties, and a ghastly ankle injury for Bulldogs starting QB Nick Fitzgerald, who later returned on crutches to cheer his teammates. Two pregame shoving matches and in-game taunts that included a dog-pee celebration and a Rebel declaring his native Starkville “my city” were the highlights. Those MSU turnovers — four of them with promising freshman QB Keytaon Thompson at the wheel — were the story, as Clanga actually outgained the Rebels by 146 yards on the night and nearly pulled off the comeback.
Oh, and Ole Miss’ best defender on the night, lineman Breeland Speaks, was both ejected for unsportsmanlike flags, one of which put the game’s final result in doubt, and the star of the night’s best meme.
Extremely Egg Bowl.
Thus ends yet another surprising, vicious, and messy edition of America’s frequently most surprising, vicious, and messy rivalry.
Ole Miss 31, MSU 28, 1:05. Lol, never give up on the Egg Bowl! The Rebels recover the onside kick, though.
Ole Miss 31, MSU 21, 4:58. Clanga’s best drive of the night, capped by a 30-yard Kylin Hill TD run up the right sideline, plus an unsportsmanlike flag on Ole Miss for yappin’ in the end zone. On brand. MSU also hit the two-point conversion with a Keytaon Thompson keeper on an apparent busted play.
Ole Miss 31, MSU 13, 8:24. The Bulldogs came inches shy of legally recovering an onside kick, but right after, Ole Miss’ Jordan Wilkins broke a 46-yard run right up the middle to hit 110 on the day, and that might do it.
Ole Miss 24, MSU 13, 9:16. Not much had happened since the dog pee, until Deddrick Thomas scored to complete an eight-play State drive. Also, the Egg Bowl trophy has been spotted in its rightful resting place.
Strange place to store the Egg Bowl trophy in Starkville. Between a hot dog warmer and coffee pots. pic.twitter.com/yUyul65loE— Pat Smith (@patsmithradio) November 24, 2017
Ole Miss 24, MSU 6, 2:15. D.K. Metcalf battled for a jump ball and took it 63 yards for a TD that’ll probably lace this one up, then hit the Bulldogs with an Odell Beckham-style dog pee celebration, drawing a 15-yard flag.
Ole Miss 17, MSU 6, 5:53. Good heavens, State turnover No. 5 comes on a strip of Jordan Thomas after a rare pass completion (MSU’s 5-of-12 passing). This one’s nearing a wrap.
Ole Miss 17, MSU 6, 7:13. Jordan Ta’amu found a wide-open A.J. Brown for a 77-yarder, despite a holding penalty on the defense. Brown’s up to 167 yards with 22 minutes still to go. Basically a 10-point swing in three plays. The local reaction to the Starkville native’s TD:
A Starkville Chamber of Commerce welcome for AJ Brown pic.twitter.com/GM3zWcn5aE— [Escort 69] (@BunkiePerkins) November 24, 2017
Ole Miss 10, MSU 6, 7:53. We’re up to four Bulldog turnovers after Keytaon Thompson, the freshman QB who’s having to carry this entire offense, fumbled on a third-and-4 run in the red zone.
Ole Miss 10, MSU 6, 11:30. After Keytaon Thompson broke a 31-yard run up the right sideline, a dropped pass with some uncalled Ole Miss pass interference set up a second-and-long, and two stops forced a punt. Downed at the 1, though. Some good news for everybody: injured State QB Nick Fitzgerald returned to the sidelines to cheer on his team.
Ole Miss 10, MSU 6, halftime. After three Mississippi State turnovers, one Ole Miss turnover, 12 total penalties, two pregame scuffles, and a horrific QB injury (MSU’s Nick Fitzgerald), the Bulldogs score again thanks to some loose Ole Miss defense right before the buzzer.
Ole Miss 10, MSU 3, :57. Turnover No. 4 of the first half, finally in MSU’s favor, as Jordan Ta'amu was strip-sacked by Erroll Thompson.
Ole Miss 10, MSU 3, 1:22. MSU’s in some real trouble now, with turnover No. 3 coming on a fumble by Keytaon Thompson in Bulldog territory. Breeland Speaks found the ball and the camera:
Ole Miss 10, MSU 3, 6:24. Bulldogs on the board after a drive highlighted by a 16-yard Keytaon Thompson run. MSU ran seven times and threw just once on the drive, a ratio we might expect to continue as the freshman continues on the biggest stage he’s yet faced. Meanwhile, on the sideline:
Just got hit in the head with ice. Thought it’d be colder so I do have an extra layer on... could use some refreshment I guess.— OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) November 24, 2017
Ole Miss 10, MSU 0, 10:40. A couple State flags and a 29-yard run by Jordan Wilkins set up an easy field goal.
Ole Miss 7, MSU 0, 12:08. So we just had a punt blocked by the Bulldogs’ Jeffery Simmons ... and then an immediate airmail of an INT from new MSU QB Keytaon Thompson to C.J. Moore.
Ole Miss 7, MSU 0, 2:38. After a Rebel punt, new MSU QB Keytaon Thompson peeled off a 33-yard run on his first snap. That was about that for that drive, though.
Ole Miss 7, MSU 0, 9:08. Bulldogs QB Nick Fitzgerald suffered an awful leg injury and was carted off, with both sidelines kneeling in silence. He’s replaced by Keytaon Thompson, a former four-star quarterback out of New Orleans from the class of 2017
Ole Miss 7, MSU 0, 9:51. CLANGA gets its first win, with a false start leading to Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown landing just shy of a first down. Punt!
Ole Miss 7, MSU 0, 11:15. A nine-play Bulldog drive was cut short when Myles Hartsfield leaped to pick off Nick Fitzgerald at the Ole Miss 38. Perfect start for the Rebels.
Ole Miss 7, MSU 0, 14:22. A 58-yard heave from Jordan Ta’amu to A.J. Brown and a 22-yard Jordan Wilkins run up the middle, and the underdogs strike first.
So much for hugs folks. The Royal Rumble has begun in Starkville. Cooler heads prevailed for now. pic.twitter.com/dcSbT8fhJ3— Joel Coleman (@JoelTColeman) November 23, 2017
Leo Lewis just walked towards the Ole Miss side of the field and blew a kiss in the direction of the Rebel players during warm-ups.— Robby Donoho III (@RobbyDonoho) November 23, 2017
There’s only one college football game to get you through Thanksgiving on Thursday — and it’s some classic in-state hate. The No. 14 Mississippi State Bulldogs can continue its march toward the top 10 by beating their rivals, the Ole Miss Rebels, on turkey day. The 114th edition of the Egg Bowl will take place Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. ET; the game will be broadcast live on ESPN (live stream).
It’s the first Thanksgiving Egg Bowl since 2013, reviving a minor tradition in the state rivalry.
The Bulldogs have been solid but unspectacular in 2017. With eight wins they are ranked No. 16 in the College Football Playoff rankings, but they’ve only beaten one ranked team — a crushing 37-7 victory over LSU — in that span. The Rebels haven’t been as fortunate. Their rebuilding season after Hugh Freeze’s resignation has sputtered to a 5-6 record before Thursday’s season finale in Starkville. Even a win on Thanksgiving won’t keep Ole Miss’s 2017 alive — the scandal that forced Freeze out of Oxford also led to a bowl ban this winter.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Scott Field, Starkville, Miss.
- TV: ESPN
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: Mississippi State is favored by 15 points.
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State news:
- This year, these teams even have NCAA beef. The long investigation into the Rebels has wrapped up Leo Lewis, a star Bulldogs linebacker.
- Mississippi State beat Arkansas last week in a game only notable for likely getting Bret Bielema fired.
After a 14-point early lead, Arkansas couldn’t hold on against Mississippi State and fell, 28-21. This TD with seconds left was the nail in the coffin for the Razorbacks. It now guarantees a losing season for Arkansas, and this is likely the final nail in Bielema’s coffin as well.
The Hogs have had a knack for being punchy when it seems Bielema’s back is against the wall. And it’s never been more against the wall than it was right here.
- Even if you’re not an Ole Miss fan, you’ve got to like what A.J. Smith is doing.
- Nick Fitzgerald isn’t consistent at all for Mississippi State, but he comes through when it matters.
Fitz is the Jekyll and Hyde that everyone loves to pick apart and this game did nothing to change that. For 3.5 quarters, Fitz struggled to find his rhythm and could not break loose running the ball. Yet when crunch time hit in the fourth, he came up big with some clutch throws, including the two touchdowns, and that last one was a picture-perfect throw. The enigma that is Fitz continues to perplex Bulldogs everywhere but we happily accept the Ws he provides.
- So who’s gonna be Mississippi’s next head coach? Mike Norvell? Willie Taggart?
The second-year man for the Tigers has done an incredible job following up Justin Fuente’s final two-year hurrah in the Bluff City (19-7 record, finished No. 25 in AP poll in 2014). His lone year at the head of the Memphis program, his Tigers went 8-5, finished third in the AAC and made it to a bowl game. The intriguing thing about Norvell is his high-powered offense, ability to coach a quarterback, and recruiting success at a Group of 5 program, primarily in Mississippi.
Can Mississippi State really be a top-10 team?
The Bulldogs are barrelling toward 10 wins and a coveted spot in the final top-10 rankings, but a dearth of quality wins could keep them from climbing into the FBS’s top tier. Beating a middling Ole Miss team won’t do much for their resume, but would put Mississippi State in line for a prime bowl game — and the opportunity to prove it’s a top-10 program.
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State prediction:
The Bulldogs have more to play for, and there’s no way the players don’t know this may be their last rivalry game with Dan Mullen as their head coach. Emotions will be high, but Mississippi State will make it two Egg Bowl wins in a row.