Editor’s note: This is the 12th and final installment of our “Scouting the schedule” series, which breaks down every game on Mississippi State’s 2022 football schedule. Part 11 looked at what East Tennessee State will bring to Starkville.
Mississippi State might still be thinking about the dropped passes and missed opportunities that swung the 2021 Egg Bowl in favor of Ole Miss.
The Bulldogs’ early momentum fizzled out in a 31-21 loss as the Rebels maintained their hold on the Golden Egg Trophy. MSU hasn’t won it since Mike Leach was hired.
And with an NFL draft exodus in Oxford, the Bulldogs seem to stand a decent chance in 2022.
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral? He’s a Carolina Panther. Offensive line-wrecking defensive end Sam Williams? A Dallas Cowboy. Running back Snoop Conner and three Ole Miss linebackers were also drafted.
Coach Lane Kiffin made amends in the transfer portal, but the Rebels’ losses seem significant compared to those of their in-state counterparts.
MSU will have to depend on its returning talent to get a sorely needed Egg Bowl win in Oxford.
Mississippi State will end the regular season with a 6:30 p.m. matchup with Ole Miss on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Ole Miss quick facts
2021 record: 10-3 (6-2 SEC)
Coach: Lane Kiffin, third year
ESPN Football Power Index: No. 17
All-time series: 64-45-5, Ole Miss leads
Last meeting: Nov. 25, 2021
Ole Miss holds an all-time series lead of nearly 20 games in the in-state rivalry matchup, but much of that success came long ago.
The Rebels didn’t lose a game to the Bulldogs — thanks to three ties along the way — from 1947 to 1963. A similar stretch took place following a 12-game MSU winning streak as Ole Miss went unbeaten from 1926 to 1935.
Since 2000, though, Mississippi State has won 10 times. Ole Miss has won just 12. And by point differential, the series is one of the 15 closest matchups between MSU and any foe.
The Egg Bowl win gave Ole Miss its first 10-win season since 2015, even though the Rebels couldn’t beat Baylor in the Sugar Bowl with a hobbled Corral.
The Rebels’ other losses came at Alabama and at Auburn as Ole Miss kept the pace to secure a New Year’s Six bowl bid.
Kiffin’s team outlasted Arkansas in a 51-50 shootout, beat Tennessee and LSU and posted a big win over Texas A&M in Oxford before beating Mississippi State to end the regular season.
Corral threw for 3,349 yards and 20 touchdowns against five interceptions, adding 614 yards and 11 scores on the ground. The California native’s performance was enough to get him drafted in the third round by the Panthers.
Running backs Jerrion Ealy (768 yards, five touchdowns) and Snoop Conner (647 yards, 13 touchdowns) will not return, with Conner becoming a fifth-round pick by Jacksonville.
Ole Miss lost all of its top three wide receivers from 2021 — Dontario Drummond (1,028 yards); Braylon Sanders (549 yards) and Jahcour Pearson (392 yards). Jonathan Mingo, MSU quarterback Will Rogers’ teammate at Brandon High School, is the Rebels’ top returning wideout after posting 346 yards in six games during an injury-marred season.
On defense, Williams was Ole Miss’ top NFL draft pick, going in the second round to Dallas after 16 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. The Tennessee Titans took leading tackler Chance Campbell (109 tackles, 12.5 for loss) in the sixth round.
Ole Miss’ 2022 signing class is ranked No. 23 nationally, according to 247 Sports’ composite rankings.
Germantown defensive lineman Zxavian Harris is the best of the Rebels’ seven four-stars, with New Jersey cornerback Davison Igbinosun close behind. Georgia edge rusher Jaron Willis is also rated in the top 200 nationally.
Ole Miss’ transfer class, though, ranks as the second best in the country. The Rebels got quarterback Jaxson Dart and tight end Michael Trigg from USC. They got running backs Zach Evans (TCU) and Ulysses Bentley (SMU). They picked up safety Ladarius Tennison and tight end JJ Pegues — an Oxford native — from Auburn.
Mississippi State wide receivers Malik Heath and Jacobi Moore also transferred to Ole Miss, as did UCF receiver Jaylon Robinson, Georgia Tech edge rusher Jared Ivey and other players.
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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