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Egg Bowl most important game to MSU's Mullen

November 18, 2012

Former Mississippi State linebacker Jamar Chaney (22) lifts the Golden Egg Trophy after the 2009 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels. That was Dan Mullen's first season as the MSU coach and the Bulldogs have a three-game winning streak in the series. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Since the day Dan Mullen took over as the head coach of Mississippi State, winning the Egg Bowl against rival Ole Miss has been top priority.

Mullen calls the Egg Bowl 'the most important game of the year' for the Bulldogs. He has stoked the fires a couple of times trying to get the rivalry relevant.

It may only be relevant in the Magnolia State, but it is one that college football fans in the state of Mississippi look forward to every year.

This year the No. 25, according to the Associated Press poll, Bulldogs (8-3, 4-3) are looking to end the Rebels (5-6, 2-5) season. Ole Miss needs a win to get bowl eligible, so there may be a little more incentive for it in Oxford.

"I'll be honest with you, I think since the day I've got here, they've wanted to get a win against me," Mullen said during his Sunday teleconference. "We're going to be expecting it to be a loud, hostile environment just like wherever you go in this league. (It will) probably be more so because the fact that it is a big rivalry game."

The Rebels lost a heartbreaker to Vanderbilt 27-26 two weeks ago and had an opportunity to beat LSU in Baton Rouge, but the Tigers pulled out a 41-35 win.

The Ole Miss offense has really improved from last year. Sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace has completed 198-of-314 yards for 2,549 yards. He has thrown for 14 touchdowns but has also thrown 13 interceptions.
Wallace has also been able to get it done on the ground. He has 323 yards on 122 attempts with eight scores.

He has also caught a pass for a 25-yard touchdown.

"They're a totally different offense than they have been in the past," Mullen said. "(They have a) different defense as well and that happens with a new coaching staff. It's going to be a very different team than we've seen in the past, but it looks like to me that Hugh (Freeze) has his guys playing hard and battling right down to the wire in most of their games this year. We expect a four-quarter fight."

Mullen's offense found its stride last week in a 45-14 win over Arkansas. They totaled up 505 yards.

Ole Miss will counteract the MSU offense with a lot of smaller guys on defense.

"From what I've seen, they put a lot of smaller guys on the field," Mullen said. "They play with some smaller quicker guys and try to cause some disruption that way. They're very aggressive. They're going to come after you with pressure."

Before the win over the Razorbacks, the Bulldogs had lost three-straight games. Mississippi State had several mistakes that kept it from winning, but the coaching staff corrected those.

"It helps in those but in other things we still have to correct," Mullen said. "We still turned the ball over one time in the red zone trying to score late. We did have a couple of miscommunications on defense and we have to get some things corrected this week."

Correcting the mistakes in a win seems to be a little easier for Mullen and his staff.

"We made a lot of plays we needed to make," Mullen said of Saturday's win. "There's some things we have to correct. We made a bunch of mistakes that could've cost us the game."

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