Second Half of Egg Bowl Could be Most-Important Two Quarters of Football for Both Teams This Season
OXFORD, Miss. – It is a normal occasion on Thanksgiving evenings throughout the country. All day people are feasting on massive amounts of turkey, dressing, pies and a hot toddy or two. So, by halftime of the Egg Bowl, which kicks off Thursday at 6:30 p.m., many will feel that need to get some well-deserved rest and fall into slumber.
That might be a bad idea this year if you are an Ole Miss or Mississippi State football fan.
The second half of the Egg Bowl could be the most-important two quarters of football for either team this season.
State’s Comebacks in 2021
Twice this year, the Bulldogs have pulled out seemingly impossible comebacks.
Two of State’s biggest comebacks in school history have occurred this season. In the opener, the Bulldogs found themselves down by 20 to Louisiana Tech in the fourth quarter and came back to win, 35-34. A couple of weeks ago, State trailed Auburn by 25 points in the second quarter, but scored 40 unanswered points to win, 43-34.
The biggest reason the Bulldogs could pull off those wins was quarterback Will Rogers. It seems the Brandon native has never met a deficit he didn’t like.
In the comeback over Tech, once his team was down by 20, Rogers completed his last ten passes including touchdowns of 40 and 15 yards.
That was child’s play for him. After falling behind Auburn 28-3, Rogers completed 32-of-38 and only had consecutive incompletions once. He also threw five touchdowns, none of which were longer than six yards.
“I felt like we all were just doing a good job,” Rogers said of his second half.
“The o-line did a good job of blocking. (Auburn) played a lot of man coverage today, and the receivers were doing a great job of getting off with their routes. It’s kind of crazy to think I completed that many, because some of those were contested. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my receivers.”
State QB Will Rogers
This season, State has been outscored in the first quarter 73-71. After that, however, it is a different story. From the second quarter on, MSU is outscoring opponents 279-199.
The fourth quarters have been especially exciting to the fans in Starkville. While surrendering the most points in any quarter (89), State has scored 107, its most of any quarter.
Rebels Start Hot
Combine that with what Ole Miss has been doing. The Rebels have been outscored in the fourth, 85-73. In the second half this year, Ole Miss holds a two-point scoring edge, 155-153.
Some of that can be attributed to the fact Ole Miss has built leads and basically taken its foot off the gas. In the first halves this season, the Rebs hold a 245-146 advantage and have been able to cruise to wins.
Ole Miss has won three straight, thanks to hot starts. It is a good thing the Rebels scored early, because they have been outscored in the second half in each of their last three games. Vanderbilt held an 8-7 second half advantage, Texas A&M 19-14 and Liberty 14-3 after intermission. In the third quarter, Liberty outscored the Rebels 14-3, A&M 10-0.
Those third-quarter woes have caught Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin’s attention.
“I don’t know, there’s been years where we’ve been really good with that, and I’m not sure,” Kiffin said after the Vanderbilt game.
“I think part of that has been in our lack of depth that we start really fast so the game is in high tempo on both sides. We do not play a lot of players, especially when receivers have been banged up, so those guys were down, we weren’t rotating linemen, so I do think that’s part of it. Still, gotta execute better.“
Coach Lane Kiffin on Rebels’ second-half scoring struggles
Ole Miss seems to get off to a blazing start before fading a bit. Mississippi State struggles a tad out of the gate and then catches fire.
What’s At Stake
Whoever wins the second half of this year’s Egg Bowl could very likely win the game and secure second-place in the SEC Western Division. The Rebels enter the game 5-2 in conference play, while State comes in at 4-3.
Whatever you do, Rebels, don’t sleep on this one!
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.