STARKVILLE — Mississippi State and Ole Miss will matchup for their yearly bout this Thursday night in Starkville in the battle for the Golden Egg. Before that occurs, though, there are several things that need to be analyzed, especially from the Bulldogs’ perspective.
First, how will MSU cope with the weather? The current forecast is not pretty to say the least, with a 90 percent chance of rain and a high of 61 degrees paired with a low of 41. This might lead most to believe that the more balanced Rebels have the advantage, and in most cases, that would be a fair assumption. However, MSU head coach Mike Leach and his air raid offense came to Starkville from Washington State, a place where if it doesn’t rain, it’s a surprise. The offense worked there, and fans have good reason to believe it will work again come Thursday.
Second, there’S the issue of stopping the high-powered Rebel offense. The Mississippi State defense has looked stellar in moments this year but has looked sub-par at times as well. Couple that with only a four day practice window, and it is a safe bet that Bulldog defensive coordinator Zach Arnett hasn’t gotten much sleep this week. MSU has one big advantage when it comes to this category, however, and that is the home field factor. Davis-Wade Stadium will no doubt be packed to the brim come Thursday, and it is quite possible that around 62,000 cowbells will rattle any offense, much less that of the Rebels.
When it comes to the differences between the two offenses, Leach shared his thoughts with reporters on Monday.
“They’re quite a bit different … They’re kind of an RPO offense – run, pass option. And the quarterback keeps it some. Both of us have some tempo going. Both are trying to attack the field. Quarterbacks are key to both.”
Lastly, one has to look at the quarterbacks – Matt Corral and Will Rogers. Corral is still very much in the Heisman race, while Rogers has broken into the long-shot conversation as of late after Mississippi State’s RECENT VICTORIES AGAINST Auburn and Tennessee State in which he broke numerous school passing records held by Dak Prescott. Corral sits at 3,100 passing yards on the year with 19 touchdowns through the air and only 3 interceptions. Rogers bolsters much larger numbers in terms of passing, with 4,113 passing yards with 34 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. The x-factor for Corral, though, is his legs. The Rebels quarterback boasts over 550 yards on the ground this season, adding 10 more touchdowns to his credit. If the Bulldog defense can keep Corral in the pocket and force him to beat them with his arm, MSU has a fighting chance to walk out of this one with a victory.
All in all, things are shaping up FOR THIS to be a good one, with a multiple of experts and betting outlets predicting a tightly contested affair. The game will air on ESPN and kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. central time.