The Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving gets us going in Rivalry Week, as the Mississippi State Bulldogs travel to Oxford for the 115th edition of this historic game. It doesn’t quite have the ring to it as a Michigan-Ohio State or Auburn-Alabama rivalry, but it’s one of the better rivalry games you can find in college sports. This will be the 22nd time they play the game on Thanksgiving. Texas and Texas A&M played on Thanksgiving night in the last four years of that series between 2008 and 2011.
With politics and money ruining that rivalry series, the Bulldogs and Rebels have become a familiar sight in this slot. The 114th matchup of the rivalry last season was ruined pretty early on due to a nasty leg injury to Nick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was the Mississippi State offense last season and without him the game was destined to be a tough trek. The Bulldogs fought hard, but ultimately had to accept a 31-28 loss in Starkville.
Fitzgerald is back and doing a tremendous job at directing the offense. The running and passing game both go through Fitzgerald. More valuable than his arm, because he doesn’t have an NFL caliber arm, is his ability to move the chains with his legs. He is a solid option quarterback who is better when he keeps the ball in his hands or involves his running backs.
Aeris Williams has been coming on strong with an average of 6.7 yards per carry this season. He led the team in rushing with 104 yards against Arkansas. The Ole Miss defense is going to be in for some work on Thursday night. They have been getting pushed around this season and must deal with a physical Mississippi State offense.
Jordan Ta’amu hasn’t been putting up the mega numbers that a lot of people were expecting, so it’s been putting even more stress on the defense. The Rebels enter the Egg Bowl on a four-game losing streak, the most recent a 36-29 loss to Vanderbilt. Their last victory came back on October 13th against Arkansas, 37-33. Head below for our free Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss pick in the Egg Bowl.
Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss Rebels NCAAF Betting Odds:
Mississippi State -10.5(-119)
vs. Ole Miss +10(-101)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss Pick:
The game was pretty well over in Starkville last season from the get-go. No Fitzgerald pretty well means no Mississippi State offense. The Rebels’ defense will have to deal with a healthy Fitzgerald, who is undoubtedly going to be looking to make up for what happened exactly a year ago.
The Ole Miss defense has been horrendous this season, nothing has changed much. The Rebels enter 123rd in the nation with 489 yards allowed per game. It shows on the scoreboard, as they have surrendered 36.3 points per game as well. They’ve been getting mauled through the air and ground, so there hasn’t been much relief.
Ole Miss will have to contend with Fitzgerald who is out for a re-do in the Egg Bowl. Fitzgerald has been dangerous rushing, as he’s compiled 901 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns on the ground. His arm isn’t the worst either, passing for 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He is coming off a 5 touchdown performance against the Razorbacks. Ole Miss will have to do something against a unit who are 24th in the FBS with 218.9 rushing yards per game.
Ta’amu enters with 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions on the year in 2018. Those aren’t the massive numbers many were expecting from Ta’amu. Many were feeling comfortable with Shea Patterson leaving for Michigan with Ta’amu, and while he’s been good, his numbers aren’t on par with some of the top passers in the nation.
The Rebels must contend with a defense that is surrendering only 110.4 yards on the ground per game for 13th in the nation. And they are actually better against the pass, with 165.3 yards allowed per game for 8th. One team has a defense that resembles something you would tend to find in the SEC and the other team does not. With Fitzgerald back in the saddle for this game and backed by a terrific defense, Mississippi State should be able to get their revenge and cover the number on Thanksgiving night.