Egg Bowl Outlook | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Egg Bowl Outlook

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Bryan Flynn

Rivalry games are the type of games where you can throw the record for both teams out the window. Heck, you can throw the stats out the window as well. But I'm going to try to use the stats to try to figure out who wins this game, rivalries and their stat-busting ways be damned.

If you're Mississippi State University, you want to run the ball on offense. The University of Mississippi Rebels are good at stopping the run at fifth in the conference but are third in passing defense with a conference high of 19 interceptions.

The Bulldogs are the third best rushing team in the conference and can try to follow the Louisiana State University script (straight up the middle) to run against Ole Miss. MSU is fifth in passing offense, and Dak Prescott is one of several players leading the SEC in interceptions with 10.

Ole Miss doesn't have as much depth on the defensive line as Mississippi State, so running the ball could pay off in the fourth quarter against a worn-out Rebels defense. Prescott and Josh Robinson need to have a big game on the ground for a Bulldog win.

The Rebels are 10th in the conference in rushing, and the Bulldogs are third best at stopping the run in the conference. Ole Miss is the fourth-best in passing offense, and MSU is last in the conference in passing defense.

This is where things get tricky. The Bulldogs lead the conference with 35 sacks or about three per game. The Rebels allow about two sacks per game. Plus, MSU is third in the conference with 14 interceptions.

What does it all mean? Well, for Ole Miss it means they might not be able to run the ball at all but should find yards through the air. MSU likes to rush the passer and isn't shabby at picking the ball off. Good news for the Rebels, is that Bo Wallace only has 10 interceptions this season.

Ole Miss is great at forcing the most turnovers in the SEC with 28 and doesn't turn the ball over very much with 20 turnovers for a .73 turnover margin. Mississippi State, on the other hand, has not been as great at creating turnovers with just 21 and has been sloppy with the ball by committing 21 turnovers.

Turnovers don't hurt MSU too badly, though. The Bulldogs are 3-1 in games where they have lost turnover battles, including beating LSU, Arkansas and Tennessee-Martin, but losing to Alabama. Ole Miss is 1-1 in games they lose the turnover battle by beating Memphis and losing to Auburn.

Mississippi State has the second best scoring offense, and Ole Miss has the first scoring defense. The Rebels are the ninth best scoring offense, and the Bulldogs have the fourth best scoring defense. And when you put it all together, it means to expect an Egg Bowl in the high teens or low 20s in scoring.

My pick: Mississippi State wins out to make the college football playoffs. Bulldogs win 17-16 over the Rebels.

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