College Football
Preview
Mississippi State at Mississippi
When: 3:30 PM ET, Saturday, November 26, 2016
Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Mississippi

When the first College Football Playoff rankings were released Oct. 28, 2014, Mississippi State was first and Ole Miss fourth as the Magnolia State basked in unprecedented glory. Fast forward to Saturday's 89th renewal of what is now known as the Egg Bowl in Oxford, which pits one team - the Bulldogs - having already clinched a losing season against the host Rebels, who need a victory to reach .500 in a contest that decides who ends up in the SEC West basement.

Mississippi State needs a victory to finish 5-7, which would give Ole Miss the same record and - believe it not - leave the teams eligible to play another game since there are a mind-boggling 39 bowl games and hardly enough teams to fill them. "Our guys understand how important this game is and how much it means to the fan base of both schools,'' Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen told reporters at his weekly press conference while the Rebels' Hugh Freeze said: "To prepare to try to get a sixth win and gain (certain) bowl eligibility against your in-state rival, these games are always quite interesting, regardless of records. They’re always highly competitive and I know this one will be no different.'' Ole Miss received more respect than perhaps any team in the nation this season as it remained in the coaches poll at No. 24 despite a 3-3 record before a 38-21 loss at LSU knocked it out for good. Mississippi State dropped its last two after stunning then-CFP No. 4 Texas A&M 35-28 on Nov. 5.

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Ole Miss -8

ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (4-7, 2-5 SEC): Sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (18 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions) paces the Bulldogs with 985 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, and leads the nation with three 300-yard passing, 100-yard rushing games. Senior wide receiver Fred Ross caught 10 passes for a career-high 171 yards last week and leads the team with 67 receptions, 835 yards and an SEC-most 11 touchdowns. Linebacker Leo Lewis leads SEC freshmen with 66 tackles (sixth nationally among first-year Power Five Conference players) while senior tackle Johnathan Calvin has a team-best five sacks.

ABOUT OLE MISS (5-6, 2-5): Quarterback Shea Patterson passed for 222 yards and two touchdowns in the Rebels' 38-17 loss at Vanderbilt last week and becomes the first freshman in school history to start three games when he goes under center Saturday. Senior Evan Engram averages 84.2 receiving yards - most nationally among tight ends. Junior defensive end Marquis Haynes leads the team with six sacks and boasts 23.5 for his career, good for third all-time at Ole Miss.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Rebels try to become bowl-eligible for the fifth straight season, which would mark their longest run since going to 15 in a row from 1957-71.

2. Ross boasts 194 receptions for 2,446 yards with 10 100-yard receiving games and a catch in 33 consecutive contests - all school records.

3. Ole Miss leads the series 63-43-6 after winning the last two meetings 38-27 in 2015 and 31-17 in 2014. The teams began the "Battle for the Golden Egg" in 1927 before the contest became known as the Egg Bowl in 1978.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss 38, Mississippi State 31
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Mississippi State 4-7 L2 29.4 34.3 3-3 1-4 3-7 0-0 2-5
Mississippi 5-6 L1 33.7 32.1 4-2 1-4 1-1 0-0 2-5
Last Meeting
Mississippi State Mississippi
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
11/28/15 MISS 38 MSST 27 402 148 254 479 243 236
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Mississippi State D. Prescott 73.8 254 2 1
Mississippi C. Kelly 70.0 236 2 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Mississippi State D. Prescott 21 63 3.0 1
Mississippi J. Walton 16 93 5.8 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Mississippi State F. Ross 12 117 9.8 0
Mississippi D. Stringfellow 5 84 16.8 2
Touchdowns Player TD
Mississippi State M. Dear 2
Mississippi D. Stringfellow 2
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Mississippi State N. Fitzgerald 54.9 2172 18 10
Mississippi C. Kelly 62.3 2758 19 9
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Mississippi State N. Fitzgerald 163 985 6.0 12
Mississippi A. Judd 145 719 5.0 6
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Mississippi State F. Ross 68 852 12.5 11
Mississippi E. Engram 65 926 14.2 8
Touchdowns Player TD
Mississippi State N. Fitzgerald 12
Mississippi E. Engram 8
Quickchart Matchup
Mississippi State Mississippi State Off vs  Mississippi Mississippi Def
Mississippi State 438.4 yards
Mississippi 451.8 yards
Mississippi State 5.2 yards/rush
Mississippi 5 yards/rush
Mississippi State 6.8 yards/attempt
Mississippi 7.4 yards/attempt
Mississippi Mississippi Off vs  Mississippi State Mississippi State Def
Mississippi 459 yards
Mississippi State 455.4 yards
Mississippi 4.1 yards/rush
Mississippi State 4.7 yards/rush
Mississippi 8 yards/attempt
Mississippi State 7.8 yards/attempt