Lane Kiffin on 2023 Egg Bowl win: 'Appreciate it more once you've lost it'

On3 imageby:Grant Grubbs11/23/23

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Week 13 Picks: Ole Miss at Mississippi State | Andy Staples | 11.20.23

Lane Kiffin and his Rebels didn’t yolk around against Mississippi State. After defeating the Bulldogs 17-7 in the Egg Bowl on Thursday night, the Ole Miss head coach revealed what the victory means to him.

“It’s just really cool,” Kiffin told ESPN’s Cole Cubelic. ‘It’s one of those things that you appreciate it more once you’ve lost it. To have it back for our players, for our fans… I just want to thank God for the opportunity to coach these guys because it’s just really cool. Half these guys are brand new and just came in here, and to win 10 games awesome.”

Ole Miss fell 24-22 to Mississippi State in the rivalry game last season. This year was personal. With the triumph, Ole Miss finishes its regular season with a 10-2 record, Kiffin’s second 10-win season in four years in the driver’s seat.

Ole Miss’ ground game was pivotal in the victory, chugging out 211 yards on 49 rushing attempts. Quinshon Judkins tallied 119 rushing yards and a touchdown alone. Kiffin isn’t used to grind-it-out victories, but he’s proud of his team’s tenacity.

“That’s a cool way to win. To play a defensive game like that, run the ball in to win,” Kiffin said. “I’m really proud of our guys and blessed to coach these guys — a really cool group of guys.”

Lane Kiffin never overlooked Mississippi State

Ole Miss couldn’t afford a loss. Mississippi State entered the game with a 5-6 record, and were led by interim head coach Greg Knox. Earlier this month, the program fired first-year head coach Zach Arnett. Kiffin knew how important the Thursday night matchup was to his program.

“It’s a big rivalry game,” Kiffin said on Monday. “No matter what, it would be big and I think it gets extra big because, you know, losing it last year. And then like you just said there’s a lot to be had, (a chance) to get to 10 wins. 10 regular season wins for the second time in three years and never been done before. Would be pretty neat. And then get through that and then go get to number 11.

“Definitely, I think there’s some danger in that,” Kiffin said. “Kind of like an all-out factor. Usually a (interim) coach (like Mississippi State’s Greg Knox) in these situations, you just bring energy and be creative and try to be more motivational than Xs and Os. It’s hard to really change philosophy in one or two weeks. So, a lot of times, they usually try to go the motivation route with the players.”