‘Huge game’ for Bulldogs with bowl at stake

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com Here's a scene Mississippi State's defense wants to avoid tonight – Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief reaching for the football in the end zone against Missouri last week.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Here’s a scene Mississippi State’s defense wants to avoid tonight – Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief reaching for the football in the end zone against Missouri last week.

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Dan Mullen has put an emphasis on the Battle for the Golden Egg every year since his arrival in 2009.

That priority is not lost on the players at Mississippi State as 60 Bulldogs on the roster hail from the Magnolia State.

“I know our guys would rather win this game than get to a bowl game,” Mullen said. “This is a huge game for us. This is obviously the rivalry game, the biggest game of the year and we’re excited and ready to play.”

But tonight’s game against Ole Miss has much more on the line this year for MSU than just bragging rights over an instate rivals. The 5-6 Bulldogs need this win to advance to a bowl game for a fourth consecutive season under Mullen.

“We’re trying to do something here that’s never been done before,” Mullen said. “They’ve been“ playing football here for a long, long time – over 100 years – and have never made it to four consecutive bowl games so I think that would be something special for us to do. It would be a great bonus on top of winning the Egg Bowl trophy.”

State has been able to hoist the Golden Egg trophy after three of the last four Egg Bowls but last year’s 41-24 loss in Oxford still stings. The Rebels convincingly broke open a 17-17 halftime tie.

“It doesn’t make me happy,” Mullen said. “I’ll be honest, I’m just as mad today about losing last year as I was a year ago.”

All eyes will be fixed on MSU’s quarterback situation again this week. Sophomore Dak Prescott has been ruled out for tonight’s game due to a nerve injury in his left arm. Senior Tyler Russell has been forced out of the last two contests due to a lingering right shoulder injury.

True freshman Damian Williams remains the Bulldogs lone healthy scholarship QB. Williams has only appeared in four games this fall completing 14 of 27 passes for 186 yards and an interception.

QB mystery

The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder did rush for the game-winning 25-yard touchdown in MSU’s 24-17 win over Arkansas on the first play of overtime last week.

“Damian has done good,” Mullen said. “The fact that he got a lot of reps in practice last week preparing for the game helped out this week. Because of all the injuries, he took a majority of the reps last week and I think that’s certainly helped him out.”

As he has most of the season, Mullen will keep his starting quarterback a mystery until kickoff.

“We’ll figure it out at game time,” Mullen said. “That’s what we did last week and we’ll do the same again this week.”

logan.lowery@journalinc.com