Week 14 - Ole Miss at Mississippi State

Posted Nov 26, 2013

Week 14 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Ole Miss at Mississippi State

Ole Miss (7-4) at Mississippi State (5-6) Nov. 28 12:00, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Rarely does it really and truly come down to one game to make-or-break a football program or the direction of a division, but this might be one of those moments.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has done a decent job with the program, but in a cutthroat, dog-eat-Bulldog world of the SEC, either you win lots and lots of games, or you don't, and if you can't get by your hated rival, there are bigger problems.

All was fine in Mullen's world when MSU won three straight Egg Bowls, but last year the Rebels came up with a 41-24 victory, and then Hugh Freeze came up with a whopper of a recruiting class to tilt the balance of power even further to Oxford. Ole Miss is the up-and-coming "it" team that survived a brutal schedule and is off to a bowl game after this. Mississippi State needs this win to become bowl eligible.

Why Ole Miss Might Win: Everyone is banged up this time of year, but outside of Georgia and Florida, Mississippi State is one of the few teams as injured as Ole Miss.

One of the biggest keys to stopping the Rebels is a steady pass rush to pressure Bo Wallace into hurrying his throws and making mistakes, but Mississippi State doesn't generate enough pop into the backfield and doesn't provide enough pop to collapse the pocket. The Rebel receivers have turned into a major positive with NFL talents in Donte Moncrief, Ja-Mes Logan and Laquon Treadwell forming one of the SEC's most talented groups. Give these guys time to work down the field, and big things will happen.

Why Mississippi State Might Win: The Bulldogs have to get throwing. Dak Prescott is out with an elbow injury, so Tyler Russell has to be the one to make the offense fly, and he can to it. Overall, the Ole Miss secondary hasn't been that bad statistically, but it gets beaten by teams able to throw the ball on a regular basis, giving up a huge day to Johnny Manziel and having problems throughout the year against the better receivers. Russell threw for 263 yards and two scores last week against Arkansas, and now with Prescott out and the offense all to himself, he should be able to shine. Last year he threw for 268 yards and a score with two picks in the loss.

Who To Watch Out For: Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are probably going to be the first receivers off the board in the 2014 NFL draft, but Ole Miss star Donte Moncrief isn't far behind. He only has one touchdown catch in the last six games, but he hung six catches for 115 yards on Missouri for his fourth 100-yard game of the year, and last year he torched the Rebels for 173 yards and three scores on seven catches. If the junior decides to leave early, this might be the type of big game performance that will look fantastic on his résumé.

What Will Happen: Mississippi State needs this game more. It's been a shaky team all season long, struggling against Arkansas and Kentucky and falling flat time and again. Chalk this one up to home field advantage, a shockingly strong performance from the D, and cowbells.

Prediction: Mississippi State 27 … Ole Miss 24
Line: Ole Miss -3.5 o/u: 52.5
Must See Rating: (5 American Hustle – 1 The Sound of Music Live!) … 3
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