2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 13 - Ole Miss at Miss State
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Nov. 26 at Mississippi State 31 … Ole Miss 3
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Vick Ballard rushed for 144 yards and scored two touchdowns, LaDarius Perkins added two more touchdowns and Mississippi State easily beat Mississippi 31-3 on Saturday night in the Egg Bowl.
Mississippi State (6-6, 2-6 Southeastern Conference) now has a three-game winning streak in the Egg Bowl for the first time since 1942 and also earned bowl eligibility for the second straight season.
Ole Miss (2-10, 0-8) finished a miserable season that included 10 losses for the first time in program history and ends coach Houston Nutt's four-year tenure. Nutt's resignation was announced on Nov. 7, but he remained to coach the last three games, which the Rebels lost by a combined score of 110-13.
Nutt ends with a 24-26 overall record at Ole Miss, including a 10-22 mark in conference games. The Rebels have lost 14 straight SEC games.
Third-year Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has injected new life into the rivalry since his arrival in Starkville, with a smack-talking persona that's been backed up with dominant victories. The Bulldogs unveiled new uniforms for Saturday's game, with gold numbers, gold shoes and the phrase `Hail State' replacing each player's last name on the back of the jersey.
From the very first snap, it was evident Mississippi State was the better and more motivated team. Relf rushed for 12 yards on the first play and then 17 more on the second as the Bulldogs methodically moved downfield. The 11-play, 68-yard drive ended on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Relf to Ballard that gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 5:35 remaining in the first quarter.
Mississippi State stretched its lead to 21-0 by halftime on a 36-yard run by Perkins and then a 20-yard pass from Relf to Perkins. To seal any doubt, Ballard rushed for a 25-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to push the lead to 28-0.
Relf didn't have to throw much, but was effective when he did, completing 8 of 13 passes for 70 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Ole Miss never could get moving on offense. Its only sustained drive lasted 12 plays and 47 yards before Bryson Rose kicked a 28-yard field goal in the third quarter. Enrique Davis rushed for 32 yards on 12 carries while Donte Moncrief caught four passes for 20 yards.
The game had a fitting ending, with Ole Miss quarterback Barry Brunetti leveled at the 3-yard line by the Mississippi State defense as he was trying to score a touchdown. The Davis Wade Stadium crowd roared its approval as the Bulldogs stormed the field and Mullen raised the Egg Bowl trophy above his head.
Brunetti completed 12 of 22 passes for 112 yards.
The Rebels didn't exactly rally around their outgoing coach, losing by lopsided margins to Louisiana Tech, LSU and Mississippi State since it was announced Nutt would not return.
Nutt was paid about $2.7 million this season to oversee the collapse. He's also owed a $6 million buyout.
The search for the Rebels' fifth coach in 17 seasons now begins in earnest. Whoever it is will have plenty of work ahead considering Ole Miss is 1-15 in the SEC -- including the 14-game conference losing streak -- over the past two seasons and resides in arguably the hardest division in college football.
Ole Miss (2-9) vs. Mississippi State (5-6) Nov. 26, 7:00, ESPNU
Here’s The Deal … Mississippi State needs the win to go bowling, and Ole Miss needs the win to close out the Houston Nutt era with something positive. Both teams need the win to try to salvage something out of a disappointing season, and both teams need a win to avoid the SEC West basement. It might not be the most attractive Egg Bowl, but it should be feisty.
Mississippi State has won three of the last four matchups, but it’s sputtering and coughing its way to the finish line after getting blasted over the last two weeks by Alabama and Arkansas. The lone SEC win came against Kentucky, the only SEC team at the Ole Miss level, while the offense that was so dominant at times last year and so dangerous has gone into the tank. This year, the team looks a half-step slower and far less decisive, but playing LSU, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina had something to do with that. The O worked just fine against Auburn.
Ole Miss gave Arkansas a shocking battle, but that’s the lone bright spot in a dead year with six straight losses and seven of the nine defeats coming by double digits. The offense has been bad, the defense has been worse, and the team isn’t improving in any way. Losing to LSU 52-3 is one thing, not coming close in a 27-7 loss to Louisiana Tech is another, and getting blown out by Kentucky 30-13 is a whole other ring of disaster. Beating Mississippi State and keeping the rival from a bowl game would make the season.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: Turnovers have been a big problem for Ole Miss, but the Bulldogs aren’t forcing a slew of mistakes. In a game like this between two flailing offenses, and break will be big, and MSU might not create them with just three takeaways in the last four games. The Rebels have been fumbling lately losing six in the last three games, but that isn’t a concern this week against a D that has forced four in the last ten games.
It’s not like the MSU offense is going to put 50 on the board. The offense put up 59 points in the opener against Memphis in the opener, 34 against Auburn to follow, and 55 against UT Martin for a total of 148 points in the three games. In the other eight games the offense has scored a grand total of 127 points, averaging 16 per outing. MSU is 1-6 when scoring fewer than 26 points. However …
Why Mississippi State Might Win: Ole Miss hasn’t allowed fewer than 26 points in any of the last nine games, and one of the games it did was against Southern Illinois. The defense isn’t doing nearly enough against the run because the disastrously disappointing defensive front isn’t getting into the backfield, and while the MSU offense might be sputtering, there’s a chance it could work with time to operate.
How bad as the Ole Miss pass rush been? It hasn’t come up with a sack in either of the last two games and it has just four in the last six games with no more than one in any game. The sack might be an overrated stat, but the Rebels aren’t even generating much in the way of pressure. The lack of a push up front has means a stunning lack of takeaways, coming up with just one fumble in the last three games and one pick in the last six.
What To Watch Out For: Ole Miss will still be without its two key offensive players, QB Randall Mackey and RB Jeff Scott, who were both suspended for the LSU game and will continue to sit out against Mississippi State. The Rebels used three quarterbacks against LSU, and none of them did much with the three combining to complete 8-of-19 passes for 47 yards and a pick. However, Barry Brunetti ran for 74 yards with a 47-yard dash. Enrique Davis and Brandon Bolden are good backs who didn’t get any room to move this year. Against MSU, they might be able to combine for well over 150 yards.
Call this a tryout for the future of the Mississippi State quarterback situation. Tyler Russell is supposed to be the main man, with great passing skills and good upside, but he has yet to take the job by the horns when given a shot. He has put up a few yards, throwing for 1,034 yards and eight scores with just four picks. Meanwhile, Dylan Favre completed 8-of-16 passes for 72 yards and a score, while running for a touchdown against Arkansas. Russell is the main man, but if he flounders, Favre will quickly get a longer look.
What Will Happen: Mississippi State isn’t going to blow the putt. Ole Miss will give the effort in the rivalry game, but it’s not producing nearly enough on either side of the ball to hold up if the Bulldog offense is working like it should. Russell will throw well, Vick Ballard will run for 100 yards, and the Bulldogs will go bowling.
CFN Prediction: Mississippi State 38 … Ole Miss 16
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Mississippi State -17.5 O/U: 46.5
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