STARKVILLE • Mississippi State won’t be the only team trying to win with its run game tonight.
Whether Ole Miss can ease the pain of last year’s 35-3 Egg Bowl loss will depend not only on the Rebels’ running the ball but keeping the Bulldogs from doing the same.
That means containing MSU running back Kylin Hill, this week the SEC’s leading rusher at 110.5 yards per game.
Ole Miss is ranked No. 34 in rushing defense this week, giving up 132.0 yards per game on the ground.
After an open date the Rebels are a week and a half removed from a 58-37 loss to No. 1 LSU.
Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow exploited a struggling Ole Miss secondary with 489 passing yards, but LSU also hurt Ole Miss with 172 rushing yards from Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Ole Miss defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre sees similarities between Hill and Edwards-Helaire.
MacIntyre will employ a similar game plan against MSU with hopes that his players execute it better.
“I hope we tackle him a little bit better than we did Helaire. We’re going to have to do what we tried to do against LSU. You have to corral him. He’s going to make people miss. You’ve got to get the second and third people there. That’s the key. And when you have open-field tackles you’ve got to make them. You have to understand where he is. He’s a really good running back,” MacIntyre said.
The Rebels held faint comeback hopes against LSU, down 51-37 after Matt Corral’s 55-yard pass to Elijah Moore with 3 minutes, 19 seconds remaining, when Edwards-Helaire applied the dagger with a 49-yard run after LSU recovered an on-side kick.
“Helaire was a shorter guy. It was really hard to see him when he was making cuts off the offensive linemen, and he ran really hard,” Ole Miss linebacker Lakia Henry said. “They’re similar in that aspect, but I feel like Kylin has a lot more speed than he does.”
Hill can hit the home run in the run game, just like Edwards- Helaire.
Hill was the SEC’s offensive player of the week following his early November performance against Arkansas when he averaged 11.1 yards per carry with 234 yards on 21 attempts.
He scored on a 39-yard run against Texas A&M and a 62-yard run against Arkansas in back-to-back road games.
LSU’s 225 rushing yards were the second-most allowed by Ole Miss this season. The Rebels have held six opponents to fewer than 100 yards including Memphis and Arkansas.
MSU, led by Hill, ranks third in the SEC and No. 19 nationally with 228.5 rushing yards a game.
“They’re a very physical team. They run the ball really well. Hill is physical. He runs downhill, and he’s really fast,” MacIntyre said. “They’re quarterbacks are big, and they run them well.”