One of the coolest things about in-state rivalries is that each fan base gets under the other’s skin. The favorites are likely to catch heat for worn-out fan gimmicks and traditions, but it’s actually a good sign. Nobody cares how many cow bells are in attendance when Mississippi State is expected to lose big in the Egg Bowl.
2017, on the other hand? Clang-a-clang-a-clang-a!
The Ole Miss Rebels will limp into Starkville on Thanksgiving, having won just 2 of their 7 conference games in a thin-as-paper SEC. The home-standing Bulldogs are hot, having won 4 in a row before taking Alabama to the limit, and then rebounding with a tough road win at Arkansas last week.
A spread which opened at a conservative 14-point margin has expanded to (-16) in early action.
Who: Ole Miss Rebels at Mississippi State Bulldogs
When: Thursday, November 23rd, 7:30 PM EST
Where: Scott Field, Starkville, MS
Lines: Ole Miss (+16) at MSST (-16) / O/U Total: (no markets)
The Bulldogs prosper whenever they have a powerful running game to grind the clock against more-talented big shots in the SEC. They’ve got one in 2017, it just developed a little too slowly to help them against Auburn and Georgia back in September. QB Nick Fitzgerald has a knack for the read-option, and led the team with over 100 yards rushing in the 28-21 win over Arkansas.
Mississippi State’s defense has found a groove against mid-level teams. 3 sacks and 3 interceptions spelled double-whammy doom for Texas A&M when the Bulldogs crushed them 35-14 a few weeks ago. But a bad defensive outing against UMass (when Alabama was a week away) shows that the unit is average when not dialed-in.
Ole Miss can try to counter with a ground game of its own. Senior Jordan Wilkins is better when fed the rock, and he’s averaged over 8 yards per carry in the last 2 weeks against Louisiana and A&M.
Rebel QB Shea Patterson will have to have a big game on the road for the visitors to beat the spread. Patterson was fantastic against Auburn, throwing for almost 350 yards, and 2 touchdowns. But he’s not a dual-threat like Fitzgerald, and has negative rushing yards on the season.
A pedestrian Rebel defense will let the Bulldog rushing game and Fitzgerald’s play-action passes click all the way downfield, and there isn’t much chance of Ole Miss taking a halftime lead. The rivalry means that any decent front-7 can play on a different level for 4 quarters, but that goes for the home team as well as the guests.
Take the Bulldogs to cover at (-16). Hurry…before the spread moves again!