Egg Bowl wins mark big improvement for 10-win Rebels
Ole Miss captured the Egg Bowl over arch-rival Mississippi State, 31-20, in Starkville. The win gives the Rebels their first 10-win regular season in program history. The Rebels doubled their win total from last year and finished second in the SEC West.
Ole Miss was predicted to finish fourth in the SEC West in the preseason polls but only finished one game behind Alabama in the West and two games ahead of Texas A&M, Arkansas and MSU. The Rebels (10-2, 6-2) went 7-0 at home as they defeated the likes of Texas A&M, LSU, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. The Rebels also stole two SEC road wins in Starkville and Knoxville. The Rebels will now await an invitation this Sunday to one of the six New Year Bowl games. Speculation has it that the Rebels will be invited to either the Sugar, Peach or Fiesta Bowl.
The Bulldogs’ downfall in the Egg Bowl was their inability to score right before halftime when they dropped three potential TD passes. MSU then missed a field goal, which turned the game around. The Bulldogs (7-5, 4-4), predicted to finish last in SEC West preseason polls, surprised all of the experts by finishing in a tie for third place.
MSU beat four ranked opponents, made two historic comebacks, lost two games by only three points and another by two points and only lost two games by more than ten points. The good news is they will play in a bowl game for the 12th consecutive season. State should know their bowl destination on Sunday.
The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame named Mississippi State’s offensive guard Charlie Cross the recipient of the 2021 Kent Hull trophy last week. The award is presented annually to the top college offensive lineman in Mississippi. The Laurel native is expected to be a first round selection in the National Football League college player draft in April.
Southern Mississippi (3-9, 2-6) wrapped up their 2021 season on a two-game winning streak as they whipped Florida International, 37-17. Will Hall decided three games ago to move to a “super back” offensive system. Hall moved the team’s best runner to quarterback, in Frank Gore Jr., and the offense that was ranked last in the nation started making plays. In last Saturday’s win, Gore ran for two scores and passed for two other scores. Hall is excited about the future of the USM program as most of his present players will return.
The SWAC Conference championship game is Saturday in Jackson at Mississippi Veterans Stadium. Eastern Division champion Jackson State (10-1, 8-0) will host the West winner Prairie View (6-2, 7-4). Prairie View lost at home to Mississippi Valley, 24-19, this past Saturday. Valley (4-7, 3-5) finished its best season since 2012 with the win.
This Friday and Saturday, the Mississippi High School Activities Association will crown six state champions at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the campus of Southern Mississippi. On Friday, the schedule is Class 3A Amory (10-2) vs. Jefferson Davis Co. (9-4) at 11 a.m.; Class 1A Simmons (13-0) vs. Bay Springs (11-3) at 3 p.m.; Class 6A Brandon (10-2) vs. Madison Central (12-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday’s schedule is Class 4A Columbia (13-1) vs. Senatobia (12-2) at 11 a.m.; Class 2A Scott Central (14-0) vs. Leflore Co. (10-3) at 3 p.m.; Class 5A West Point (11-2) vs. Picayune (13-1) at 7 p.m.
State Champion Northwest Community College (9-2) will compete in the NJCAA Division 1 playoffs on Sunday against New Mexico Military (10-1) in the opening round. Northwest is the No. 3 seed while New Mexico is the No. 2 seed. The other semifinal contest will have No. 1 Iowa Western (9-0) hosting No. 4 Snow College (Utah). Mississippi runner-up Hinds (8-3) received an invitation to play Kansas’s top team in Hutchison (8-2) in the Salt City Bowl to be played in Hutchinson at 1 p.m. on Saturday.