Predictions Anyone?

Happy Thanksgiving y’all.

I miss the days when the Egg Bowl was on Thanksgiving. I didn’t mind working the holiday, because I considered that a good trade for a Thursday game with a Saturday off.

C’est la vie.

I got to Mississippi in 1989 and have been around the Ole Miss-MSU rivalry since 1991 covering almost every game in the series since then.

This will be Ole Miss’ first visit to the expanded Davis-Wade Stadium with its bowled-in and louder north end zone.

Here’s an example of what Ole Miss players and fans could hear around the MSU campus. Or maybe not.

The cowbells were a big topic earlier this week. The bottom line is no SEC road venue is easy. MSU fans will understandably be more amped up when Ole Miss is in the house. The Rebels, however, have already survived the league’s most difficult road venue at Alabama. They’ve also floundered when favored against a Florida team still trying to find itself.

If Ole Miss can pull off a win at MSU it will complete the season 3-1 on the SEC road. That’s no small achievement.

Home field is a significant advantage in this series and should not be overlooked. The visiting team has won just twice since 1999, and both times the home team has been having a sub-par year. Ole Miss won 31-0 in Starkville in 2003, and MSU won 31-23 in Oxford in 2010.

We had a family gathering last night where someone offered the analysis that it would be really hard for Ole Miss to win in Starkville on Dak Prescott’s Senior Night.

Well, here’s the deal. It’s going to be really hard for Ole Miss to win because Dak has thrown 23 touchdown passes with just three interceptions, and secondary play has been a big struggle for the Rebels.

Dak passed for more than 500 yards and five touchdowns last week. I can’t believe he’ll top that effort simply because he’s playing his final home game. Even with that effort the Bulldogs would have lost had Arkansas punched in a short field goal. An MSU lineman made a tremendous play and saved the win with a block. Dak wasn’t on the field for the game’s decisive play.

That said, it’s the Dak vs. the Ole Miss secondary matchup that’s had me leaning to MSU in this game for weeks. I’ve since moved it back into the toss-up category, and the reason is the Ole Miss quarterback, Chad Kelly.

Before the Arkansas earlier this month Kelly was riding a string of multiple-interception games and had not been turnover-free since Alabama in Week 3.

He’s thrown 12 interceptions this season, but now he’s been turnover-free the last two weeks.

Kelly hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 75 pass attempts, a streak going back to the Rebels’ win at Auburn on Oct. 31. That’s a streak longer than Dak’s got going right now. He was picked off once last week.

After losing at Florida the Ole Miss path to the SEC title game was going to be perfection. No less than winning out in conference play was going to get the job done once Alabama hit its stride. The Rebels remain mathematically alive and will regain control of their fate if Auburn springs a monumental upset against Alabama. That’s unlikely.

Ole Miss, though, very nearly reached the Egg Bowl in the SEC West lead. Had it not been for the fluke lateral play on fourth-and-25 by Arkansas the Rebels would in fact be playing Saturday night with Atlanta on the line. You don’t get a pass for fluke plays, though. They count.

There’s still a lot to play for in terms of bowl positioning and a second-straight nine-win regular season which is rare territory for Ole Miss in the modern era.

Plus it’s State. That should be motivation enough.

It will be for the Bulldogs, who are almost always primed and ready by Dan Mullen for this game.

Ole Miss did a phenomenal job of slowing Leonard Fournette last week, but that won’t help them much in this game. State has struggled to run the ball, and that won’t be the focal point of the Bulldogs’ offense.

The Rebels are going to have to make plays in the secondary, and that’s scary for Ole Miss.

This is where Kelly comes into play and gives the Rebels a chance.
Expect a high-scoring Egg Bowl. State’s receivers are very good, but Ole Miss’ are better, and Kelly is capable of matching Dak series for series.

This is where home field and the bells come in. The Rebels are going to have to minimize mistakes. Kelly has done that the last two weeks, but if the bells force just one mistake – one botched shotgun snap leading to a fumble, one interception – it could turn the game.

Yes, home field is huge in this series, but at some point someone is going to break through.

I’m thinking that’s Kelly and the Rebels Saturday night.

Prediction: Ole Miss 45, MSU 44

 

 

 

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

Posted in Football Tagged with: , ,
  • txsaint

    How are cowbells supposed to affect play? According to SEC rules, they can’t be rung during the course of play. That’s the allowance since artificial noisemakers are banned in every other SEC stadium. Surely State fans wouldn’t cheat.

    • Killer_Beeze

      hahahahahahahahaha (pause) hahahahahahahahaha (catch breath) hahahahahahahahahaha (fall over and knock myself out) :))))

  • bornarebel

    The SEC knows that state will use the cowbells for their advantage. They just won’t do anything about it. It makes sense to pay a little fine if it helps you win. This is why all artificial noisemakers should be eliminated.
    I want to pick Ole Miss for this win. I believe that they are the better team. But the home team always wins. I hope I’m wrong.
    Ole Miss 31
    state 35

  • Bob

    The home team doesn’t always win. In fact in Starkville, Ole Miss leads 21-15-3

  • agingbiker

    “You don’t get a pass for fluke plays, though. They count.” Yep, they do, even “bank shots” off the helmet of another player into the hands of the receiver in full stride.

    After Alabama is … upset, I predict a cow bell penalty results in a 4th down conversion, sustaining a drive for the winning field goal, which hits the left upright and bounces through. How’s that for “Fluke”? Hey, if I’m going to predict, I’m going all out. Ole Miss 30 – MSU 28.

    Oh, BTW, I predicted Leonard by a KO in his first fight with Duran.

  • papatoLC

    Last week I did not pick a winner. This week I’m going with Ole Miss 45 State 35

  • Lee814

    While I believe that Ole Miss is the better team, I fear there will be too many factors in favor of MSU. Namely: home field advantage (including the use of cowbells at times really not allowed), an emotional last home game for Prescott that will cause him to play big, which will put too much strain on the secondary and the pressure of playing for a possible Sugar Bowl birth. The Rebels can win, but it will take a near perfect performance with no turnovers and consistent execution. I will be cheering strong for Ole Miss and hope I’m wrong.
    MSU 42- OM 31

  • Killer_Beeze

    The Land Sharks will come to play. The “D” will shut down the Bulldog ground game and perform like gladiators in the secondary. Chad Kelly outshines poor Dak, which rhymes with sack. :))
    Ole Miss 35
    MiSSTake 24


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