The 2018 Egg Bowl betting matchup kicks off the biggest college football games in rivalry week as Ole Miss hosts Mississippi State. If you bet Mississippi the last two weeks, you’ve taken the worst of it as the Rebels have suffered a pair of awful against the spread losses in defeat. Is there any reason to believe that the Rebels can rally against the better Bulldogs?
No. 21 Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-4) at Mississippi Rebels (5-6)
Thursday, November 22nd – 7:30pm ET ESPN
2018 Egg Bowl Betting Line: Mississippi State -11 (59)
After suffering a pair of tough losses the last two weeks at Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, Ole Miss is still trying for their 6th win to become bowl eligible. Bettors have been burned badly by the Rebels in those two recent defeats, and Ole Miss is now on a 0-4 SU/ATS losing streak. They blew a 10-point 4th quarter lead in their last home game against South Carolina and lost 48-44. Bettors now have to decide if the Rebels offense will move the ball and minimize mistakes against one of the stronger defenses in the country in Mississippi State, as the Bulldogs allow just 277.8 yards per game to rank third in the country.
Last year Ole Miss pulled the shocking upset on Thanksgiving, downing their Egg Bowl betting rival 31-28 as a 14-point underdog after being bet down from -16.5. Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald suffered a terrible ankle injury in that game, and he hasn’t been too productive this year passing for 1,504 yards and just 51.9% completions. Ole Miss won their sixth game last year in this rivalry game, but the Rebels did not play in a bowl game due to a self-imposed postseason ban following a four-year NCAA proctology examination. That matchup last year looked one-sided on paper as well, but five turnovers proved costly for Mississippi State in defeat.
If Ole Miss is to stay competitive this year, it will need another big game from their pass-heavy offense and big receivers. Ole Miss passes for 352.6 yards per game to rank fourth in the country against FBS opponents, and senior QB Jordan Ta’amu leads the SEC in passing with 3,831 yards. He’s thrown for 19 touchdowns and Ta’amu’s QB rating of 156.7 is third in the SEC. The SEC’s leading receiver by a wide margin is junior A.J. Brown, who has hauled in 81 receptions for 1,259 yards and could be playing his final game as he’s a projected to be a first round NFL draft pick. Just behind is Rebels senior WR DeMarkus Lodge (62/823).
Mississippi State does counter the strength of Ole Miss with the seventh best pass defense in the country allowing 164.1 yards per game and a solid 56.07 completion percentage. The Bulldogs have a big edge overall on defense in the 2018 Egg Bowl betting head-to-head, as MSU is holding opponents to 138 yards per game below their average (4th). The Ole Miss defense has allowed all seven SEC opponents to score at least 31 points this season. But the Mississippi State offense finally came alive in SEC action scoring 52 on a deficient Arkansas defense last week after scoring 7 points or less in four other SEC games this season. That was without leading RB Kylin Hill, who missed his second game this season with a lower body injury.
Running back Scott Phillips returns to the Rebels lineup this week after missing the Vanderbilt game with an ankle injury. He averages 6.2 yards per carry and has 927 rushing yards with an SEC-best 12 rushing touchdowns. He’ll need to be productive to balance the Rebels attack against the stout Mississippi State defense.
The fundamentals don’t match-up well for Ole Miss, as the Rebels run defense is worst in the SEC and Mississippi State has the SEC’s No. 2 rushing attack with dual QB Fitzgerald leading the way with 901 rushing yards.
Still, I’m going to toss aside some of the stats again as rivalry games and emotion often bring out the best and biggest efforts. I have no problem riding with the Rebels once again.
2018 Egg Bowl Free Pick – Ole Miss +11.0
Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.