The Egg Bowl was supposed to mean a little more, but we’re past that stage with this being the only college football Game on Thanksgiving. Mississippi State comes in off barely beating Arkansas and look to close with an impressive nine wins. The Bulldogs opened as -15 point home favorites against Ole Miss as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
While things are great for Mississippi State, that’s not the case for Ole Miss, although a win in this Game would insure a bowl Game for the Rebels. Having fallen at home to Texas A&M last week, not many will be using that motivation tactic to bet Ole Miss here. The Rebs have been brutal on the defensive side all season giving up just over 35 points and an incredible 240 rushing yards per contest.
That run defense isn’t going to work against Mississippi State, which runs almost twice as much as it passes. That’s mostly due to quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who leads the team with 968 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s not terrible as a passer, but he’s most lethal on the ground and Ole Miss is all too familiar with him as it is. In last year’s meeting, Fitzgerald ran for a ridiculous 258 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Aeris Williams was close behind with 191 yards and two touchdowns. Given how the Ole Miss defense has looked this season, that could easily happen again, especially since the 55-20 beat down came in Oxford.
As for the Mississippi State defense, it’s been surprisingly stout in almost every Game this year. OUtside of the losses to Georgia and Auburn, the Bulldogs have looked great on both sides of the ball and are still allowing under 20 points per Game and less than 170 passing yards per contest.
That should come in useful against this Ole Miss attack, which is pass heavy. Jordan Ta’amu has been solid in his Four starts, but against a decent defense last week, didn’t show much, completing 55.9% of his passes for only 189 yards. While the Rebels are stacked at wide receiver with A.J. Brown (1,085 yards, 10 TDs) leading the way, Ta’amu is still lacking some experience. The Rebs actually have good numbers running behind Jordan Wilkins, who’s averaging 6.4 yards per carry, but that doesn’t win Games when their defense gives up points on almost every drive.
Mississippi State dominated this Game last year because Ole Miss had no answers for Fitzgerald. The problem is that Fitzgerald is better than a year ago and the Rebs are probably worse. If the Rebels can’t stop what Fitzgerald does, that will put a lot on Ta’amu’s shoulders and that’s not a good thing. Ole Miss has one road win this season (at Kentucky), but easily lost its other three to Cal, ‘Bama and Auburn.
The Rebels are 1-5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 4-12-1 ATS in their last 17 road Games. The Bulldogs are 5-1 ATS in their last six home Games. In this meeting, the home team is 11-5-1 ATS in the last 17, while the underdog has covered in Four of the last five.
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