OXFORD • Complete domination by Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl last year won’t be a primary motivating factor for Ole Miss on Thursday night in Starkville, Rebels coach Matt Luke insists.
The Bulldogs won 35-3 in Oxford last year, capping a 5-7 season in which the Rebels struggled to score points against the more physical SEC defenses in losses to Alabama, LSU, Auburn and MSU.
Through the years, there have been severe beatings in this rivalry in both directions.
Last year the Rebels managed just 189 yards and could attach only a 32-yard second-quarter field goal to the scoreboard. Ole Miss was minus-3 in turnover margin.
It’s a bad memory for Ole Miss but not one that will impact this season’s game, Luke said. The Rebels need a win to reach five wins this season.
“This game stands alone. You can’t worry about what happened last year. These are two brand-new teams and a different set of circumstances,” Luke said. “You really don’t need any extra motivation when it comes to this game. It’s very very important on its own.”
This season, Ole Miss has surpassed 30 points on both Alabama and LSU but gave up 50-plus both times. The Rebels scored just 14 against Auburn but had a chance to throw to the end zone for the win on the game’s final play from the Auburn 35.
Last year’s MSU team had three defensive players selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
This year’s edition of the Bulldogs is ranked No. 12 in the SEC in scoring defense, one spot below the Rebels, and No. 11 in total defense, one spot ahead of the Rebels.
“This game is huge. It’s everything,” sophomore guard Ben Brown said. “I’ve grown up a Rebel fan my whole life. I’ve been cheering for Ole Miss forever. The energy involved in it … it’s a special game for a whole lot of people.”