Ole Miss Rebels vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Date and Time: Thursday, November 23, 2017, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
Opening College Football Odds: Mississippi State -17
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State TV Coverage: ESPN
The Rebels have really played their hearts out this season. We know it's only a matter of time until the NCAA comes down on them, likely quite hard for all of the violations they've had off the field in recent years. To play through that with an interim coach in Matt Luke and still be competitive against most of the top teams in the SEC has been impressive.
Last week's 31-24 loss to Texas A&M was a tale of two halves. The Rebels flew up and down the field on their first two drives and accomplished virtually nothing over the course of the rest of the game.
With Shea Patterson out for the season, Jordan Ta'amu has made some spectacular plays. You could argue that the Ole Miss backup is actually the better of the two quarterbacks. The Hawaiian is completing 69.5 percent of his passes, is averaging 0.8 more yards per pass attempt than his predecessor and has shown great ability with his legs as well.
That said, the one thing that is really going to hold back the Rebels in this game is the fact that they flat out can't stop the run. They didn't do a terrible job against Texas A&M last week at home, but they're up against a much different team and a far different quarterback with Nick Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald has thrown for 1,770 yards and rushed for 968 more this season, and it's what he brings to the table with his legs that really makes all the difference in the world. Fitzgerald has six games this season with at least 100 rushing yards and at least 100 passing yards, second in the nation to Lamar Jackson.
The Last Meeting
The good news for the Rebs is that it can't possibly be any worse this time around than it was last year when these teams met in Oxford.
That said, Fitzgerald rushed for 258 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 55-20 romp for the Bulldogs. It was the biggest win in the Egg Bowl for either side since 2008 when Ole Miss smacked Mississippi State 45-0.
Fitzgerald really wore down this Ole Miss team in the second half, running for 61 and 30-yard touchdowns in the last 18 minutes of the affair. We sort of saw a similar problem against Texas A&M in the fourth quarter last week when the Aggies started to finally get some traction in the fourth quarter after a dull-as-could-be third quarter for both sides.
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State Free Picks
We love taking the points in these rivalry games, and this isn't going to be an exception. Pound for pound, there isn't a whole lot of difference between Mississippi State and Ole Miss save for the fact that the Bulldogs simply have a lot more experience and depth.
However, when you look at the raw talent of Luke's team with Jordan Wilkins and A.J. Brown complementing what Ta'amu brings to the table, it's hard to just assume this is set to be another blowout.
We're going to forecast the Rebels winning this game, but the fact that we're going to ultimately be able to rest our laurels with a slew of points on our side courtesy of the top online sportsbooks is going to be helpful, too.
College Football ATS Pick: Ole Miss +17 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Ole Miss 34, Mississippi State 27