Nov 13, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) throws a pass against the Texas A&M Aggies during the first quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Corral, Ole Miss meet Mississippi State in Egg Bowl

With plenty of credit to go around on his potentially record-setting Ole Miss football team, coach Lane Kiffin will turn to his main guy Thursday night in the regular season’s biggest game.

Kiffin will take that quarterback Matt Corral and the rest of the Rebels south to Starkville to play Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, the state’s annual Thanksgiving matchup between the Southeastern Conference rivals.

Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2 SEC) is on the cusp of greatness as the season winds down, with a chance to post the highest regular-season win total in school history.

While the program owns seven career 10-win campaigns — most recently Hugh Freeze’s 10-3 showing in 2015 — all seven featured nine victories in the regular season and win No. 10 in a bowl game.

Kiffin said the Rebels simply would not be in the position they are without the junior signal-caller, who will enter the NFL draft next spring.

“I think I get a lot of credit for coming in here and what’s happened and the change and wins and losses and all that stuff — compared to where it was before,” Kiffin said. “I would argue that he deserves more credit than me for that as the head coach versus the quarterback.

“This guy is there when I’m not even in there — summer workouts. … I think he’s had a lot to do with changing the mindset of the people around here.”

Corral is 233 of 345 for 3,100 yards passing in a season that has vaulted him into the Heisman race.

He has thrown for 19 touchdowns, rushed for 10 and tossed just three interceptions.

Ole Miss owns a 63-46-6 advantage in the longstanding rivalry.

In Starkville, coach Mike Leach witnessed his squad shake off a slow start and start cruising through the air.

“We’re getting better,” Leach said. “We’re a different team than we were early in the season.”

The Bulldogs (7-4, 4-3) opened the season by rallying and holding off Louisiana Tech 35-34 at home.

They lost by a combined five points at Memphis and home against LSU — two winnable games the Bulldogs would love do-overs in.

However, they earned wins in five of the next seven, including an amazing comeback in a 43-34 upset at Auburn in which the Bulldogs reeled off 40 unanswered points.

No player in the nation has put up the numbers Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers has in his past nine outings.

The sophomore has eclipsed 300 passing yards in each contest — more than 400 yards in four of them — during the Bulldogs’ hot streak.

The Brandon, Miss., native is 435-for-572 for 4,113 yards with 34 TD passes and eight interceptions.

“I kind of grew up an Ole Miss fan with my dad going there, my sister went there, so yeah, tables have turned a little bit,” Rogers said. “It’s a huge game because you know what’s at stake.”

Top receiver Makai Polk is 109 yards short of a 1,000-yard season and has nine TDs.

Rebels running back Jerrion Ealy provided the week’s best-bulletin board material in the heated rivalry.

“You’re going to hate the sound of cowbells,” said Ealy, who leads Ole Miss with 643 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. “You’re probably going to hear cowbells for two weeks after the game.

“It’s Stinkville to me. It stinks there. I don’t like mud. It’s just so muddy. I don’t know. I just don’t like it.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Auburn, Alabama, USA;  Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State stuns No. 17 Auburn 43-34

Will Rogers fired six touchdown passes as Mississippi State scored 40 unanswered points to erase a 25-point first-half deficit, stunning No. 17 Auburn 43-34 on Saturday afternoon at Auburn, Ala.

With the Bulldogs (6-4, 4-3 SEC) trailing 28-3 late in the first half, Rogers led a school-record comeback, giving Mississippi State the lead for good with 13:28 remaining.

Mississippi State received two touchdown receptions from Makai Polk and Jamire Calvin, while Dillon Johnson and Malik Heath caught one TD each.

Rogers completed 17 straight passes at one point in the second half and finished 44 of 55 for 415 yards and no interceptions.

The outing was his eighth consecutive game with at least 300 yards and ninth this season. He had 294 yards in his only game where he didn’t reach at least 300 this season.

Tank Bigsby scored two rushing touchdowns for Auburn, while Ja’Varrarius Johnson had four catches, 102 yards for the Tigers, with a TD.

Luke Deal and Kobe Hudson notched TD receptions for Auburn (6-4, 3-3). Hudson had eight catches for 107 yards.

Bo Nix was 27 of 41 for 377 yards with two passing TDs but did not play on the final series.

Entering on a six-quarter stretch when the Tigers failed to reach paydirt, they found the end zone on their first four possessions in the game, with Bigsby scoring the first on a 5-yard run at 12:37 of the opening quarter.

After Nolan McCord’s 34-yard kick for the Bulldogs, Nix tossed a long lateral to Johnson, who cut inside and sprinted away on a 57-yard scoring jaunt at 4:26 for a 14-3 edge.

Auburn took a 21-3 lead in the second quarter when Nix found Deal cruising across the back of the end zone. Hudson made a spectacular one-handed catch in the corner with a defensive back draped on him for a 28-3 lead.

The Bulldogs halted the half’s onslaught with a 4-yard pass to Polk from Rogers, who completed 11 straight late in the half.

In the third, Rogers caught fire and tossed 3-yard scores to Calvin and Johnson – the latter capping a 98-yard drive – as the Bulldogs trailed 28-23.

After Cameron Young’s block of a 35-yard field, Rogers put the Bulldogs up 29-28 with his second TD to Polk, but they missed their second straight two-point conversion.

Rogers’ fifth score, a short pass to Calvin with 9:35 remaining, pushed the lead to 36-28.

The Bulldogs thwarted a fake punt with 8:30 left, and Malik Heath cught the final Rogers TD pass, a 6-yarder with 5:31 remaining.

Bigsby scored on a 1-yard run with 3:37 left, but Fred Peters intercepted Nix’s pass on the two-point conversion attempt.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Jaden Walley (11) catches a pass for a touchdown during the second quarter as Arkansas Razorbacks defensive back Jayden Johnson (8) looks on at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Dominique Johnson lifts Arkansas over No. 17 Mississippi State

Dominique Johnson rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 4-yarder with 21 seconds remaining, as host Arkansas defeated No. 17 Mississippi State 31-28 in a Southeastern Conference game Saturday.

KJ Jefferson, who passed for 191 yards and a touchdown, drove the Razorbacks (6-3, 2-3) 75 yards in 10 plays for the winning score after Will Rogers’ fourth touchdown pass of the game had given the Bulldogs (5-4, 3-3) the lead with 2:22 remaining.

Rogers, who completed 36 of 48 passes for 417 yards, drove Mississippi State into position for a tying field goal, but Nolan McCord, replacing Brandon Ruiz after Ruiz had missed both of his field-goal attempts, was wide left from 40 yards as time expired.

Mississippi State, which didn’t score until getting a touchdown on its final possession of the first half, made it two TD drives in a row after receiving the second-half kickoff.

Rogers threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Rara Thomas to give the Bulldogs their first lead, 14-13.

Cam Little made a career-long field goal for the second time in the game when he hit a 51-yarder to give the Razorbacks a 16-14 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Jefferson threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Treylon Burks to increase the lead to 23-14 early in the fourth quarter. But the Bulldogs answered on the ensuing possession as Rogers and Thomas teamed on a 37-yard touchdown pass with 11:41 remaining.

Little’s first career-long field goal came on a 46-yarder, and Dominique Johnson ran 1 yard for a touchdown to give the Razorbacks a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs had an opportunity to score when they drove to the Arkansas 5, but they stalled and Ruiz missed a 23-yard field goal.

Little added a 48-yard field goal before Mississippi State finally scored on Rogers’ 3-yard touchdown pass to Jaden Walley with seven seconds left in the second quarter. That gave Arkansas a 13-7 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) runs the ball while defended by Kentucky Wildcats defensive lineman Josaih Hayes (99) during the first quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Will Rogers’ record day lifts Mississippi St. to upset of No. 12 Kentucky

Will Rogers set school and SEC single-game records by completing 92.3 percent of his passes and threw for 344 yards as Mississippi State rolled to a 31-17 victory over No. 12 Kentucky in SEC play on Saturday night at Starkville, Miss.

Rogers completed 36 of 39 passes and threw one touchdown pass, Dillon Johnson rushed for two scores and the defense forced four turnovers to help the Bulldogs score 31 consecutive points in one stretch while winning their second straight game. Jalen Green, Shawn Preston Jr. and Cameron Young recorded interceptions and Jett Johnson recovered a fumble for Mississippi State (5-3, 3-2 SEC).

Will Levis was intercepted three times while completing 17 of 28 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown for Kentucky (6-2, 4-2). Josh Ali returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown for the Wildcats, who dropped their sixth consecutive game in Starkville.

The Bulldogs outgained Kentucky 438 to 216 while controlling the ball for 41 minutes and 10 seconds.

The Wildcats, who lost their second straight game, possessed the ball for just 5:42 in the second half and ran only 17 plays.

Mississippi State led 14-10 at halftime before dominating the third quarter and adding on 17 points.

The Bulldogs took the third-quarter kickoff and drove 66 yards on 14 plays and Brandon Ruiz booted a 27-yard field goal to cap the drive of eight minutes and 26 seconds.

Kentucky took over and Chris Rodriguez lost a fumble on the second play and Jett Johnson recovered at the Wildcats’ 22-yard line. Three plays later, Dillon Johnson scored from the 1 to give Mississippi State a 24-10 lead.

More disaster occurred on Kentucky’s next play from scrimmage as Levis’ pass was tipped by Tyrus Wheat and intercepted by Young, who returned it five yards to the Wildcats’ 24.

Three plays later, Rogers tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Rara Thomas to increase the lead to 31-10.

Kentucky finally scored an offensive touchdown with 13:37 left in the game when Levis threw a 17-yard scoring pass to DeMarcus Harris.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 10-0 lead behind Ali’s 74-yard punt return midway through the first quarter and Matt Ruffolo’s 41-yard field goal with 12:14 left in the second.

The Bulldogs received a 7-yard scoring run by Jo’quavious Marks with 7:45 left in the half and took a four-point lead on Dillon Johnson’s 9-yard run with 1:40 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) makes a pass against the LSU Tigers during the fourth quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

No. 15 Texas A&M tries to rebound vs. Mississippi State

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher and his Aggies are licking their wounds after being pushed around by Arkansas in his team’s first loss of the season.

“We did not play well, consistently,” Fisher said this week about the 20-10 setback to the Razorbacks. “As I always try to say, it’s doing ordinary things better, becoming more fundamentally sound in how we do things and becoming much more consistent.”

The No. 15 Aggies (3-1, 0-1 SEC) look to get back on track at home on Sunday when the Mississippi State Bulldogs come to College Station, Texas.

First thing on Fisher’s list in turning things around is getting better production from the quarterback position.

Backup quarterback Zach Calzada took over for injured starter Haynes King (broken right leg) earlier this season. The sophomore signal caller struggled against the physical Arkansas defense, finishing with just 151 passing yards and an interception in the loss.

One way for Fisher to protect Calzada is to run the football more effectively with running backs Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane. The two combined to average 5.3 yards a carry against Arkansas and are averaging 143 yards a game.

“Zach’s a new guy,” Fisher said. “We’ve got experienced receivers, backs, tight ends and all of that. We have to play better around him.”

Fisher added, “He’s got to grow.”

The Aggies also got carved up defensively by Arkansas’s big-play offense, giving up 448 total yards.

Led by head coach Mike Leach, Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1 SEC) has lost two in a row, including a 28-25 setback to LSU in the Bulldogs’ SEC opener last week.

Texas A&M and the Bulldogs have met 14 times and are tied at 7-7. The Aggies have won the last two contests, including last year’s 28-14 decision.

Mississippi State has twice knocked off a ranked Texas A&M team in recent years – beating No. 16 Texas A&M in 2018 and the No. 7 Aggies in 2016 – both games in Starkville, Miss.

Leach, meantime, is 7-4 all-time against Texas A&M, including a 7-3 mark during his tenure at Texas Tech.

“We are making progress, but we’ve got to finish drives,” Leach said. “Whether it’s offense or defense, we’ve got to finish drives.”

Quarterback Will Rogers powers the Bulldogs’ passing game, completing 75 percent of his passes for 1,454 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Makai Polk tops Mississippi State with 33 catches for 304 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

“Mississippi is playing outstanding defense right now,” Fisher said. “There giving up just 71 yards a game rushing. They’re experienced and physical up front. They’re front seven is very physical. In their secondary they have long, big athletic corners. And on offense you know Mike’s going to throw it.”

The Bulldogs could be without cornerback Emmanuel Forbes this weekend. Forbes suffered an unspecified injury in a collision with a teammate against LSU and had to be carted off the field.

If Forbes can’t play, Decamerion Richardson would likely get the nod.

“He’s still emerging,” Leach said, when asked about Richardson. “He’s doing a good job and we want to see if we can get more and more out of him. We’re always on the search for quality players to go out there and play, especially at that position.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) makes a pass against the LSU Tigers during the second quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Max Johnson’s 4 TD passes get LSU past Mississippi State

Max Johnson threw four touchdown passes and visiting LSU held on to defeat Mississippi State 28-25 in an SEC game Saturday afternoon at Starkville, Miss.

Johnson, who threw a career-high five touchdowns in a victory against Central Michigan last week, completed 17-of-27 passes for 280 yards with one interception as the Tigers (3-1, 1-0) won their third consecutive game after a season-opening defeat at UCLA.

Two of Johnson’s TD passes went to Kayshon Boutte, who has eight touchdown catches this season.

The LSU defense contained the Bulldogs’ passing offense until the final minutes after Mississippi State had an SEC-record 623 passing yards in a 44-34 victory against the Tigers last season.

Will Rogers completed 47-of-62 passes for 371 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1).

On the second play from scrimmage after halftime, Johnson and Boutte connected on a 64-yard touchdown pass that gave LSU a 14-3 lead.

Johnson then threw a 58-yard touchdown to Trey Palmer to increase the lead to 21-3 with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter.

Rogers threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Makai Polk with 26 seconds remaining in the quarter to cut the Tigers’ lead to 21-10.

Johnson threw a 41-yard pass to Kole Taylor to increase the lead to 28-10 with 11:32 remaining in the game.

Rogers threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Austin Williams and a 16-yarder to Jo’quavious Marks with a two-point conversion to cut the LSU advantage to 28-25 with 1:53 remaining. The Bulldogs’ ensuing onside kick failed.

LSU forced a fumble on the first possession of the game and Damone Clark returned the ball 35 yards to the MSU 35. The Tigers converted a fourth-and-1 on their way to Johnson’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Boutte for a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs used 14 plays to drive 80 yards to Nolan McCord’s 23-yard field goal that cut the lead to 7-3 and it stayed that way at the end of the first half.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Tigers quarterback Seth Henigan (14) is pressured by Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive end Randy Charlton (5) during the first half at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Calvin Austin III ignites Memphis rally, win over Miss. St.

Calvin Austin III scored three second-half touchdowns Saturday and Memphis withstood a 419-yard passing outburst from Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers to log a 31-29 non-conference win in Memphis.

The Tigers couldn’t secure the win until Rogers’ attempt to run in a game-tying 2-point conversion with 1:32 left in the game came up short. Memphis recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock to improve to 3-0.

Rogers, who completed 50 of 67 passes, brought the Bulldogs (2-1) within two points on a 36-yard touchdown pass to Makai Polk. It was Rogers’ third scoring strike of the day.

But it wasn’t enough to outdo Austin, the Tigers’ most dangerous weapon on offense. He almost single-handedly erased a 17-7 halftime deficit with his scores in a 15 1/2-minute span of the second half.

Austin caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Seth Henigan with 6:20 left in the third quarter, bringing Memphis within three points. Then he put the Tigers ahead for good with a 25-yard scoring grab at the 7:48 mark of the fourth quarter.

Just over two minutes later, Austin produced a 94-yard punt return for the Tigers’ second non-offensive touchdown of the game. They initiated scoring in the first quarter on a 49-yard fumble return by Sanchez Blake.

Austin finished with nine catches for 105 yards. He was outdone by Polk, who finished with a game-high 136 yards receiving on 11 grabs.

Trailing 7-0, Mississippi State controlled most of the remaining first half, rattling off 17 straight points. Second-quarter touchdowns on a 3-yard run by Dillon Johnson and Rogers’ 6-yard pass to Jaden Walley gave the Bulldogs a 10-point cushion.

Henigan was 16 of 28 for 159 yards for Memphis, which was outgained 468-246.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Austin Williams (85) returns a punt against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during the second quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State uses big play to race past Wolfpack

Will Rogers threw for two touchdowns and Mississippi State also received a boost on the game’s first play in a 24-10 victory against visiting North Carolina State on Saturday night in Starkville, Miss.

Lideatrick Griffin returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

After that, Mississippi State (2-0) relied on its passing attack, with Rogers going 33-for-49 for 294 yards through the air. The Bulldogs were credited with only 22 rushing yards.

The second touchdown pass from Rogers went for 4 yards to Jaden Walley on the Bulldogs’ first possession of the second half, stretching the lead to 21-3. Rogers began to scramble from the pocket before unleashing the pass.

NC State quarterback Devin Leary was 30-for-49 for 303 yards and an interception. The Wolfpack’s touchdown came on Leary’s 4-yard pass to Thayer Thomas with 1:06 left in the game.

Mississippi State was up 24-3 on Nolan McCord’s 32-yard field goal with 12:30 to play.

NC State committed each of the game’s three turnovers.

The Wolfpack (1-1) never fully recovered from Griffin’s dash.

NC State botched a couple of early scoring chances, with running back Ricky Person Jr.’s pass intercepted by Jalen Green in the end zone and Christopher Dunn missing on a 48-yard field goal attempt.

But aided by a fourth-down offsides call on Mississippi State that prolonged a drive, the Wolfpack got on the board in the second quarter on Dunn’s 45-yard field goal.

The Bulldogs converted a fourth-down play and went on to score with 1:09 remaining in the first half on Rogers’ 21-pass to Malik Heath on the side of the end zone, completing a 13-play, 83-yard drive. That possession accounted for more than half of Mississippi State’s total yards in the first half.

That was also a costly sequence for NC State because standout linebacker Payton Wilson was lost for the rest of the game with an injury.

NC State hasn’t won a road game against a Southeastern Conference team since 1991 at South Carolina.

Dec 31, 2020; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane wide receiver Josh Johnson (13) is tackled by Mississippi State Bulldogs cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (13) during the first half at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State edges No. 24 Tulsa in Armed Forces Bowl

Will Rogers threw one touchdown pass and ran for a score as Mississippi State held off No. 24 Tulsa 28-26 in a rainy Armed Forces Bowl on Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas.

Emmanuel Forbes had a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown and Lideatrick Griffin, who caught Rogers’ touchdown pass, contributed 138 kickoff return yards to help the Bulldogs (4-7) overcome a sluggish offensive performance that produced just 270 yards.

Zach Smith passed for 347 yards and a touchdown, but threw two crucial interceptions for the Golden Hurricane (6-3).

The contest was marred by an ugly postgame brawl in which punches and kicks were plentiful.

The Tulsa defense held down the Mississippi State offense even without linebacker Zaven Collins, the Nagurski Award winner as the top defensive player in the country who opted out to focus on the NFL Draft.

The Bulldogs led 7-6 at halftime and Rogers scrambled 13 yards for a touchdown that gave Mississippi State a 14-6 lead.

Deneric Prince answered on the next possession with a 13-yard touchdown run for Tulsa.

The Golden Hurricane was poised to take their first lead of the game, but Forbes made his pick-six against Smith for a 21-13 Mississippi State lead at the end of the third quarter.

A botched punt by Mississippi State gave Tulsa a first down at the Bulldogs’ 32-yard line and nine plays later Corey Taylor II ran 5 yards for a touchdown. A two-point pass went incomplete, leaving MSU with a 21-19 lead with 12:30 remaining.

Rogers threw a 13-yard touchdown to Griffin to increase the lead to 28-19 with 8:01 left.

Smith drove the Golden Hurricane to the Bulldogs’ 6, but was intercepted by Tyrus Wheat before directing Tulsa to his 15-yard touchdown pass to Keylon Stokes with 1:23 left. Stokes had nine catches for 117 yards.

Griffin returned the opening kickoff 53 yards to the Tulsa 39-yard line.

Three plays later Jo’Quavious Marks ran 28 yards for a 7-0 Bulldogs lead that lasted through the end of the first quarter.

Zack Long made field goals of 27 and 33 yards to pull the Golden Hurricane within 7-6 at halftime.

–Field Level Media