Neshoba Fair Football Coaches

The state's three major-college coaches gathered on July 29 for a memorable event at the Neshoba County Fair. Will Hall of Southern Miss, left, gives out a big laugh as he and Lane Kiffin react to MSU's Mike Leach.

It's Egg Bowl week, and the whole crew is together to preview the 118th gridiron battle between Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Parrish Alford, Stefan Krajisnik and Michael Katz answer the big questions heading into Mississippi's biggest football game of the season.

While we predict the Egg Bowl, we must first predict the weather.

Some would say meteorologists and sports writers have about the same success level with these things.

I think the weather guys have an advantage. Just look at all their shiny new toys these days.

If I had Doppler radar I’d be leading our MSU beat writer, Stefan Krajisnik, in our weekly picks column.

The weather forecasts seem to agree on a wet Egg Bowl, and as we get closer to Thanksgiving Day those guesses become more accurate.

That’s another thing. When sports writers circle a winner there’s no going back on that pick.

How much rain Davis-Wade Stadium will receive and when it comes remains to be seen.

Conventional wisdom says a wet surface gives an advantage to the better running team.

“People will tell you if you throw the ball 70 times that you probably don't want it to rain, so maybe that's in our favor,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said at his Monday presser.

It’s true MSU coach Mike Leach doesn’t try to run very much, but he does try to involve his running backs, and Jo’quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson are good backs.

The disadvantage in a wet passing game as that the receiver – even through he knows the route and the defense does not – has to plant and cut. That can make the receiver unsure and the route slower.

Less of that happens when you’re really just trying to get the ball to one of your backs with an extended handoff.

The back may be hovering in place as a screen pass develops he may be building momentum in a short route. He’s not running a deep slant.

I like State’s backs, but the Ole Miss group is deeper and more diverse, and quarterback Matt Corral, who appears to be moving better in recent weeks, could be another weapon in the run game.

Given the weather – and the Rebels sub-par performance against the Vanderbilt run game on Saturday – it will be interesting to see if Leach decides to hand off a few more times.

The Ole Miss defense, while better than a year ago, can still be inconsistent not necessarily from game to game but from half to half.

The Rebels have had success getting to the quarterback, but Will Rogers is hard to sack. He has a quick release and of late has made very good decisions.

The unknown here is where Ole Miss end Sam Williams lines up.

If he stays on the right end of the defensive line and faces MSU left tackle Charles Cross that’s a classic matchup.

Williams could move to the other end for a more favorable matchup against MSU right tackle Scott Lashley.

I typically overlook the emotional component to this game, but it’s there. There are major bowl implications for each side.

Who’s going to play harder?

Prediction: Ole Miss 28, MSU 27

The Beat Guys

Michael Katz – There are a lot of reasons I think Mississippi State could win this game — the Bulldogs are playing their best ball of the year right now, particularly on offense. Ole Miss has had a few offensive hiccups the last four games or so, stalling out on more than a few occasions. The Rebel defense is playing well right now but has not seen an offense quite like MSU’s in terms of passing volume. This is a brutal matchup for Ole Miss with everything on the line.

But in a game that features two of the country’s best quarterbacks, I think Matt Corral shines and makes the difference in his last Egg Bowl. Ole Miss 34-31.

Stefan Krajisnik – I’ve got Mississippi State coming out on top this year.

It’ll be a game where teams exchange blows whether it be scoring on explosive plays or creating turnovers on defense.

Where I think MSU prevails is keeping the ball out of Matt Corral’s hands.

Lane Kiffin spoke on the SEC Network recently saying the two offenses are much different than people think, even though both can score bunches of points. 

Ole Miss plays with pace and utilizes the run game.

 Mississippi State uses check-downs and screen passes as a de facto run game and runs the play clock down.

 I think this plays in MSU’s favor, and with a defense that generates turnovers, State has the advantage.

 But it’s the Egg Bowl, so something crazy has to happen. The crazy this year will come with the teams tied at 35.

 Nolan McCord will hit a game-winning field goal. Mississippi State 38, Ole Miss 35.

Recipe of the Week

This week's recipe comes from Jenn Segal in Once Upon a Chef by way of Michael Katz.

The contents: Eight cups of stuffing cubes (Pepperidge Farm worked great), stick of butter, one large onion, three celery stalks, spoonful of crushed garlic, one package of chorizo, not the rolled into sausage kind, 3 cups of chicken broth, one large egg, 1 TBSP rosemary (dried spice rather than fresh), 1 TBSP sage, ¼ cup parsley (dried rather than fresh, ½ TSP kosher salt, Pepper to taste.

The process: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a pan, chop onion and celery, cook it down until the celery is soft-ish. Put the garlic in and cook a couple more minutes.

Put stuffing cubes in a giant bowl, add celery/onion mix on top. Put the pan back down on the heat and cook chorizo. Make sure it’s cooked all the way even though it’s going into the oven. Break up chorizo as it’s cooking.

Add the chorizo to celery/onion mix. Then add spices, broth and egg.

Get those hands dirty. Mix it up, and make sure all the cubes are wet.

Use non-stick spray on dish, and spread evenly.

Bake for an hour or more if you want it more crispy.

Enjoy!

PARRISH ALFORD is the college sports editor and columnist for the Daily Journal. Contact him at parrish.alford@journalinc.com.

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