djr-2021-11-21-sport-corral-twp2

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral announced Friday that this would be his final home game. He went out a winner.

OXFORD — The dust had just settled on a somewhat sloppy 31-17 Ole Miss victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

But junior running back Jerrion Ealy was already well-aware of what waits right around the corner in the not-so-friendly confines of Starkville's Davis Wade Stadium.

No. 10 Ole Miss (9-2 overall, 5-2 SEC) heads 70 or so miles southeast to face rival Mississippi State (7-4, 4-3) in the Egg Bowl Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Everything is on the line for the Rebels, who would wrap up their first 10-win season since 2015 and win double-digit games in the regular season for the first time in program history.

A New Year’s Six Bowl game is also likely on the line for both teams — certainly for Ole Miss, currently projected to play in the Sugar Bowl by many publications. And, of course, there are bragging rights to be had: Ole Miss leads the all-time series 63-46-3, the last six of which have been split right down the middle.

So when Ealy said Thursday night is a big one, he wasn't kidding.

“It’s a very important game. It actually means something this year. Both teams are pretty good,” Ealy said. “This game is going to be a very valuable game.”

Ole Miss was favored by nearly 36 points over the Commodores (2-9, 0-7), who managed to hang around due to offensive inefficiencies that have held the Rebels back the last four or so weeks. The Rebels were a combined 1 of 9 on third and fourth downs and rushed for just 144 yards, almost 100 yards below their season average.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are among the hottest teams in college football, having won four of their last five games. Mississippi State has won three games against top-25 teams this season, including a come-from-behind victory at then-No. 16 Auburn where the Bulldogs trailed 28-3.

The Air Raid offense is flying high once again behind sophomore quarterback Will Rogers, who has thrown for a school-record 4,113 yards and 34 touchdowns this season

An effort like the one the Rebels had against Vanderbilt isn’t going to get it done on Thanksgiving Day. And redshirt junior quarterback Matt Corral, who will be playing in his final Egg Bowl, hopes that message gets through to his teammates. Otherwise, as he said, the Rebels will “get blown out.”

“This was nothing to celebrate. Overall, just nothing. It’s nothing to celebrate, (to) go out and have a good time. We have practice (Sunday). It’s a Tuesday practice because the week’s getting cut short because we play on Thursday,” Corral said following Saturday’s game. “We have to be locked in, because this is the day we’re not going to get back. I think we only have two physical practices. If we’re being honest, last week, we didn’t have the best practice … Monday or Tuesday, and those are the two physical days that we have, and it showed.

“Just that being a theme of, felt the same thing (with the) Liberty game, same feeling now. It’s just a ‘want to.’”

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