Game Notes: No. 8 Ole Miss heads to in-state rival Mississippi State for annual Egg Bowl
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Game Notes: No. 8 Ole Miss heads to in-state rival Mississippi State for annual Egg Bowl

Ben Garrett16 days
Article written by:Ben GarrettBen Garrett
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Wesley Hitt/Getty Images.

No. 8 Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2 SEC) travels to in-state rival Mississippi State (7-4, 4-3) on Thanksgiving night for the annual Battle of the Golden Egg. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Notes courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

• Ole Miss holds a 63-46-6 advantage in the series dating back to 1901.
• The original record is 63-48-6 in favor of Ole Miss … The Rebels had wins in 2012 & 2014 vacated due to NCAA ruling, while Mississippi State forfeited wins in 1976 & 1977.
• This game will be the 94th “Battle of the Golden Egg,” as the two schools started playing for the trophy in 1927 … Ole Miss holds a 57-29-5 advantage in the “Egg Bowl”.
• According to Ole Miss records, this will be the 30th time the series has been played on Thanksgiving Day … Ole Miss  holds a 15-13-1 advantage in Thanksgiving games, including an 8-5 mark in games played in Starkville.
• The Rebels are one of just five teams in the nation with at least five wins vs. bowl eligible opponents.
• Ole Miss ranks as the fourth most-improved defense in the FBS, allowing 12.9 less points this season compared to 2020.
• Ole Miss has forced a turnover in 20 of the 21 games during the Lane Kiffin era.
• Ole Miss is the only team in the nation with four players with 500 or more rushing yards this season.
• The Rebels are second in the FBS in fourth down attempts (39) and are third in conversions (25).
• QB Matt Corral is one of only three FBS QBs with more than 15 passing touchdowns and at least 10 rushing TDs.
• Corral ranks ninth in the FBS in total offense (332.5 ypg).
• WR Bralyon Sanders leads the SEC and ranks fourth nationally in yards per reception (22.1).
• DL Sam Williams has a school record 10.5 sacks on the season … He’s ranked sixth in the FBS in sacks.
• LB Chance Campbell is fourth in the SEC with 8.1 tackles per game.

OLE MISS HEAD COACH LANE KIFFIN

Lane Kiffin (Fresno State, 1998) is in his second season at Ole Miss and helped lead the Rebels to four wins in their final five games in 2020, including a 26-20 victory over No. 7 Indiana in the Outback Bowl. Kiffin quickly turned the Rebels into an offensive machine last season. Ole Miss ranked top-20 in the FBS in nine different offensive categories, including having the No. 3 team in the country in total offense, shattering the school record with 555.5 yards per game. Kiffin is in his 10th year at the NCAA level and has posted an all-time record of 75-41. In December 2016, Kiffin took over an FAU program that had won a total of nine combined games over the previous three seasons. Kiffin proceeded to take the Owls to new heights over the last three years, including two conference titles and two 10-win seasons. In his head coaching stops at USC, Tennessee and FAU, Kiffin has shown a propensity in helping turn programs around. Kiffin graduated from Fresno State in 1998 after playing quarterback for three seasons (1994-96) for the Bulldogs. He began his coaching career as a student assistant at Fresno State under Pat Hill in 1997 and 1998. He moved on to Colorado State in 1999 as a graduate assistant.

MISSISSIPPI STATE HEAD COACH MIKE LEACH

Mike Leach is in his second season at Mississippi State after leading the Bulldogs to back-to-back victories to end the 2020 season, including the program’s first win over a ranked team in a bowl game since 1941. In his 20 years as a head coach, Leach has compiled a 150-101 (.598) record while guiding his squads to 17 bowl games. Leach arrived in Starkville after eight seasons at the helm of the Washington State program and 10 seasons as head coach at Texas Tech (2000-09). A two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year (2015, 2018), Leach spearheaded WSU to a school-record six bowl appearances and became the first coach in school history to lead the Cougars to five consecutive bowl games. In Lubbock, Leach’s squads produced bowl appearances all 10 years, including a program record with 11 regular-season wins in 2008. The mastermind behind the NCAA record-setting “Air Raid,” Leach’s passing attack led the FBS – six at Texas Tech and four at Washington State. Leach also made stops as an offensive coordinator in Norman (1999), Kentucky (1997-98), Valdosta State (1992-96) and Iowa Wesleyan College (1989-91).

BULLDOG SCOUTING REPORT

Heading into the Egg Bowl, Mississippi State boasts a 7-4 record and checks in at No. 25 in the College Football Playoff Rankings. This season the Bulldogs are 3-1 against Top-25 opponents, with the lone loss coming to Alabama. Mike Leach and quarterback Will Rogers lead an explosive passing attack that ranks second in the nation at 390.2 yards per game. Rogers is completing an FBS-best 76 percent of his passes and has thrown for 4,113 yards and 34 touchdowns. Makai Polk has been Rogers’ go-to target this season, with 88 receptions for 891 yards and nine scores. Wideouts Jaden Walley and Austin Williams each have over 500 receiving yards on the season too. On the ground, the Bulldogs have only rushed for 889 yards through 11 games, with Dillon Johnson and Jo’quavious Marks splitting the workload. Defensively, State is holding its opponents to 325.7 total yards per game. Linebacker Jett Johnson paces the team with 74 total tackles, while Tyrus Wheat has a team-high 7.0 sacks. The Bulldog defense has also forced at least one takeaway in 42 of their last 50 games.

MISSISSIPPI STATE SERIES HISTORY

• This game will be the 118th meeting of one of the nation’s most-played rivalries.
• Ole Miss holds a 63-46-6 advantage in the series dating back to 1901, including a 22-15-3 mark in Starkville.
• The original record is 63-48-6 in favor of Ole Miss … The Rebels had wins in 2012 & 2014 vacated due to NCAA ruling, while Mississippi State forfeited wins in 1976 & 1977.
• This game will be the 94th “Battle of the Golden Egg,” as the two schools started playing for the trophy in 1927 … Ole Miss holds a 57-29-5 advantage in the “Egg Bowl”.
• It is the first meeting in the series with both programs ranked since 2015 when Ole Miss was No. 18 and MSU was No. 21 in the CFP poll.
• The Rebels own the four longest separate winning streaks in the series (nine, six, six and five games).
• Including a pair of forfeited victories, Ole Miss posted a 38-7-2 record versus MSU from 1944-1990.
• From 1947-1963, the Rebels posted a 15-0-2 mark against MSU … That means a child born in December 1946 was a senior in high school before they saw Ole Miss lose to the Bulldogs.
• From 2004-2014, the home team won all but two games … Since then, the road team has won four of the last six.

THE START OF THE GOLDEN EGG

The Golden Egg was first proposed by members of Sigma Iota, an Ole Miss honorary society in 1927. Sigma Iota proposed that a trophy be awarded in a dignified ceremony designed to calm excited fans, after Ole Miss fans stormed the field at Starkville’s Scott Field following the Rebels’ 7-6 win in the 1926 contest. The 1926 win snapped a 13-game losing streak to then-Mississippi A&M, and was just Ole Miss’ fifth win in 23 tries. Following the game, Ole Miss fans made a dash for the goal posts, while Aggie fans took after them with cane bottom chairs and fights broke out. The mayhem continued until most of the chairs were splintered. After Sigma Iota made its proposal, Mississippi A&M approved the suggestion, and Ole Miss, two weeks before the game, officially added its approval. The trophy, to be called “The Golden Egg,” would be a regulation-size gold-plated football mounted on a pedestal. The cost of the $250 trophy was split between both schools. On Thanksgiving Day, 1927, the first “Battle of the Golden Egg” was waged before a crowd of 14,000 in Oxford. The Rebels won 20-12 and the symbol of supremacy in the series was born.

ORIGINS OF THE NAME

The term “Egg Bowl” can be traced back to 1978, when Executive Sports Editor of The Clarion-Ledger Tom Patterson
decided to spice up the 1978 meeting. A year earlier, the Clarion-Ledger headline on game day had been “Egg Bowl Is
Up For Scramble.” With the Rebels and the Bulldogs 6-4 and both apparently out of the bowl picture heading into the 1978 game, Patterson instructed his staff to follow the “Egg Bowl” theme throughout the week. The result was a special
section on Sunday, which recounted in great detail the Rebels’ stunning 27-7 victory. While the game is still officially the
“Battle of the Golden Egg,” most members of the media now refer to the annual game simply as the “Egg Bowl.”

HOME SWEET HOME

Ole Miss finished the 2021 campaign with a perfect 7-0 home record, its first undefeated season at home (on the field) since 1992 when the Rebels finished 6-0 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Records show Ole Miss as 5-0 at home in 1993, but the Alabama victory was by way of forfeit due to NCAA rules violation by the Crimson Tide. Alabama defeated the Rebels 19-14 on Oct. 22 of that year. It’s also the first time that Ole Miss has won seven on-campus games within the same season.

PICK YOUR POISON

Ole Miss is the only team in the nation with four players with 500 or more rushing yards this season (Jerrion Ealy [643yds], Snoop Conner [556yds]), Matt Corral [552yds] and Henry Parrish Jr. [537yds]. The foursome has combined for seven 100-yard rushing performances this season.

SHOUTOUT TO SHUTOUTS

The Ole Miss defense has tallied four shutout halves this year (Louisville [first half], Tulane [second half], Liberty [first half] and Texas A&M [first half]). Prior to this season, Ole Miss had only played three shutout halves in the previous five seasons, spanning 58 games. The four shutouts are the most in a single season since the Rebels tallied five such occurrences in 2014.

LEAVING HIS MARK

Mark Robinson transferred to Ole Miss as a walk-on running back from Southeast Missouri, but the Leesburg, Georgia, native made the switch to the defensive side of the ball at the end of fall camp last season. Robinson, who sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, ranks fourth on the team and No. 18 in the SEC with 7.1 tackles per game. Robinson has tallied at least eight total tackles in five of the games this season. He set career highs in total tackles (14), solo stops (12), tackles for loss (5) and sacks (2) in Ole Miss’ win at Tennessee. Robinson’s 5.0 tackles for loss against the Vols were the most by a Rebel since Kendrick Clancy had 6.0 against Auburn in 1999.

NO HUDDLE, NO PROBLEM

The Ole Miss offense has been moving the ball up and down the field at an unbelievably fast pace under head coach Lane Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. The Rebels rank fifth in the FBS in number of plays per game (77.4), averaging a play every 20.7 seconds. Ole Miss ran a school record 101 plays on offense in its win at Tennessee. The previous mark was 100 plays in 2004 against Wyoming. The 101 plays run were tied for the ninth-most in SEC history and the most since 2018 when Texas A&M ran 107 in a seven overtime loss to LSU. 

TWO-HEADED MONSTER

RB Snoop Conner ranks third in the SEC with 11 rushing touchdowns, while QB Matt Corral is fifth at 10 TDs. They are the first Rebel teammates ever to tally 10 or more rushing touchdowns in the same season. The 10 rushing TDs are the third-most ever by a Rebel quarterback in a single season. Conner currently ranks fourth on Ole Miss’ career charts with 24 career rushing touchdowns.

REBS IN THE POLLS

• Ole Miss ranks No. 8 in both the the Associated Press Poll and the Coaches Poll headed into the regular season finale vs. MSU.
• The No. 8 spot in the polls are the Rebels’ best ranking since starting the 2015 season ranked No. 3. 
• Ole Miss has been ranked in the top 25 all 13 weeks this season, which is its longest streak since being ranked for the
    entirety of the 2015 season.
• The Rebels are the highest ranked two-loss team in the polls.
• The SEC boasts six different teams ranked in the top 25, including top-ranked Georgia.

FOURTH AND GOING FOR IT

Ole Miss is second in the country in fourth down attempts (39) and third in conversions (25). Lane Kiffin and the Rebels have gone for it on fourth down at least three times in nine of Ole Miss’ 11 games this season. The Rebels have been perfect on fourth down attempts against Louisville (3-for-3), Tulane (5-for-5) and LSU (3-for-3).

RUNNIN’ WILD

Ole Miss leads the SEC and ranks No. 3 in FBS with 230.6 rushing yards per game. Lane Kiffin‘s offense has tallied 250 or more yards on the ground in four out of the last seven contests. Matt Corral, who came into the season with seven career TD runs over the course of 24 games, is fourth amongst FBS quarterbacks with 10 rushing touchdowns. Snoop Conner ranks third in the SEC in rushing TDs with 11, while Corral is fifth at 10 rushing TDs.

MAC BROWN RAISES OVER 145K FOR ALS RESEARCH

When he was in seventh grade, Ole Miss punter Mac Brown had a modest goal of raising $500 for a childhood friend’s   dad who had been diagnosed with ALS. Along with a group of neighborhood friends, Brown started a lemonade stand, Awesome Lemonade Stand, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, to help his friend’s family. Ten years later, that $500 goal has ballooned to over $145,000 raised by Brown and his friends for ALS research. Brown was recently one of 22 collegiate football players named to the 2021 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

FEED SNOOP

When the Rebels are nearing the goal line trying to find the end zone, chances are very good that Ole Miss will look Snoop Conner’s way. Seventeen of Conner’s 24 career rushing touchdowns have been from five yards or less, including 12 one-yard TD runs. Conner currently ranks third in the SEC with 11 rushing TDs on the season.

KEIDRON SMITH TO WEAR CHUCKY MULLINS PATCH

Ole Miss senior defensive back Keidron Smith was named the winner of the 2021 Chucky Mullins Courage Award earlier in the fall. The award, honors the late Chucky Mullins, who had his Ole Miss career come to an end during the 1989 season when he was paralyzed after making a tackle. Smith is the 31st recipient in the 32-year history of the award and wears a 38 patch on his No. 20 jersey rather than switch numbers.

GET YOU A QUARTERBACK THAT CAN DO BOTH

Quarterback Matt Corral is not only a threat to burn you with his arm, but as teams are quickly finding out, the junior signal-caller can also beat you with his feet. Corral has thrown for 3,105 yards and 19 touchdowns, while running for 50.2 yards per game and 10 rushing TDs. He’s one of just three FBS quarterbacks with at least 15 passing TDs and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Prior to this season, Corral had just seven career rushing TDs in three seasons for the Rebels. Against Tennessee, Corral became the first Rebel to run 30 times in a game since 2007 when BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran 33 times vs. Missouri. Corral finished with a career high in both rushing yards (195) and attempts (30) vs. the Vols.

O CANADA

Ole Miss has an SEC-most three Canadian players on its roster (Jaden DicksDeane Leonard, and Tavius Robinson). Leonard has started nine games this season at cornerback and has tallied 44 total tackles on the season. Robinson, who missed the first two contests of the 2021 season due to injury, has appeared in nine games and has registered 26 tackles. Dicks, a redshirt freshman, transferred from the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, and arrived on campus right before the start of fall camp.

OFFENSIVE NOTES

• The Rebels rank top 15 in the country in six separate offensive categories: total offense (517.5), rushing offense (230.6), completion percentage (.673), first downs (295), passes had intercepted (3) and turnovers lost (8).
• Ole Miss is the only team in the nation with four players with 500 or more rushing yards this season.
• The Rebels are second in the FBS in fourth down attempts (39) and are third in conversions (25).
• Ole Miss has gained 600-plus yards seven times in 21 games under Lane Kiffin … Before Kiffin, the Rebels had 16 such games in the program’s 1,209 games.
• The Rebels are the only team in the country with six different players who have registered at least one 100-yard receiving game this season.
• Ole Miss has tallied 218 total plays of 10 or more yards over the course of 11 games this season and rank No. 5 nationally in that category.
• QB Matt Corral is one of only three FBS QBs with more than 15 passing touchdowns and at least 10 rushing TDs.
• Corral ranks ninth in the FBS in total offense (332.5 ypg).
• WR Braylon Sanders leads the SEC and ranks fourth nationally in yards per reception (22.1).
• RB Snoop Conner ranks third in the SEC with 11 rushing touchdowns.
• 17 of Conner’s 24 career rushing touchdowns have been from five yards or less, including 12 one-yard TD runs.

DEFENSIVE NOTES

• Ole Miss ranks as the fourth most-improved defense in the FBS, allowing 12.9 less points this season compared to 2020.
• Ole Miss has forced a turnover in 20 of the 21 games during the Lane Kiffin era.
• The Rebels rank No. 9 nationally and first in the SEC in sacks per game (3.3).
• With one regular season contest and a bowl game left to go, the 36 sacks are the fifth-most in program history.
• DL Sam Williams has a school record 10.5 sacks on the season … He ranks sixth in the FBS in sacks.
• LB Chance Campbell is fourth in the SEC with 8.1 tackles per game.
• Of the 26 signees that Ole Miss signed as part of the 2020-21 signing class, 15 were on the defensive side of the ball, including eight defensive backs.
• Ole Miss has an SEC-most three Canadian players on its roster, all of which are on the defensive side of the ball (Jaden DicksDeane Leonard, and Tavius Robinson).
• DB Keidron Smith was named the winner of the 2021 Chucky Mullins Courage Award and will wear a 38 patch on his No. 20 jersey.

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES

• K Caden Costa is 14-for-17 on field goal attempts, including a long of 50 yards.
• Costa’s 14 field goals are tied for the most in program history by a true freshman (Joshua Shene, 2006).
• Costa is a perfect 9-for-9 on field goals less than 40 yards.
• Costa is the first Rebel to connect on a 50-yard field goal since Andrew Ritter made a 50-yarder against Idaho in 2013
• P Mac Brown is averaging 44.0 yards per punt on 36 punts this season.