Nov 23, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs running back Jeffery Pittman (25) runs the ball as Mississippi Rebels linebacker Khari Coleman (23) makes the tackle during the first half at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Ole Miss ends Mississippi State’s bowl streak

Quinshon Judkins rushed for a touchdown, Jaxson Dart passed for a touchdown and No. 12 Ole Miss shut down Mississippi State’s offense in a 17-7 Egg Bowl victory Thursday night in Starkville, Miss.

The Rebels (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) led just 3-0 at halftime before Judkins, who finished with 119 yards on 28 carries, sparked the offense in the second half.

Will Rogers passed for 207 yards and ran 1 yard for the only touchdown by the Bulldogs (5-7, 1-7), who saw their 13-season streak of bowl appearances come to and end.

On Mississippi State’s first possession of the second half, Rogers completed all four of his passes for 47 yards during a 71-yard drive that ended with his touchdown and a 7-3 lead.

The Rebels responded with Judkins rushing six times for 40 yards, the last 2 of which came on a touchdown that gave Ole Miss a 10-7 lead at the end of the third quarter.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Dart converted a fourth-and-3 from the Mississippi State 41 by throwing a 7-yard completion to Jordan Watkins. Three plays later, Dart threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Caden Prieskorn for a 17-7 lead.

The Bulldogs tried to make it a one-score game, but Kyle Ferrie’s 50-yard field-goal attempt hit the crossbar and fell short with 6:28 remaining.

Both teams punted four times during a scoreless first quarter, and on the second play of the second quarter, the Bulldogs punted for a fifth time.

The Rebels put together the game’s first successful drive on the ensuing possession, moving 66 yards in 13 plays before stalling. Caden Davis kicked a 36-yard field goal to give Ole Miss a 3-0 lead.

On the Bulldogs’ last possession of the first half, they entered Rebels territory for the first time, reaching the 24 before stalling. Ferrie was wide left on a 42-yard field-goal attempt with 15 seconds to go, leaving Ole Miss with a 3-0 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) reacts with  wide receiver Zavion Thomas (1) after a touchdown against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Everything riding on Egg Bowl for Mississippi State

Mississippi State ended each of the past 13 seasons in a bowl game.

The Bulldogs (5-6, 1-6) need to defeat in-state rival Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2) in the Egg Bowl on Thursday night in Starkville, Miss., in order to become eligible for No. 14.

The Rebels have been assured of a bowl game for the last month and a 10th victory this season would only strengthen their postseason resume.

If MSU wins it will be able to hang on to the Golden Egg trophy, which it regained last season with a 24-22 victory in Oxford, Miss.

“(We) need to work to get this trophy back,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said. “We screwed it up last year.”

Both teams are coming off non-conference victories.

Ole Miss, which was routed by No. 1 Georgia 52-17 two weeks ago, started slowly against UL Monroe last week. It led just 7-3 at halftime but rolled to a 35-3 win to finish its home schedule 7-0.

Jaxson Dart threw all three of his touchdown passes during a 21-0 third-quarter blitz that put the Rebels in command.

Players on both teams know how a victory or defeat in the Egg Bowl can significantly alter the perception of their season — regardless of what has preceded the rivalry game.

Dart is from Utah and started his college career at USC, but as he prepares for his second Egg Bowl he understands its significance.

“We have to make sure that we don’t get too high or too low,” Dart said. “People tell you, ‘We don’t care if you don’t win any other games. We just care that you win the Egg Bowl.’ We understand the importance of it.”

A victory could wipe away a lot of disappointment from a turbulent season for the Bulldogs. The university fired first-year head coach Zach Arnett after a 51-10 loss at Texas A&M on Nov. 11.

Interim head coach Greg Knox welcomed back quarterback Will Rogers and running back Jo’Quavious Marks from injury for a 41-20 victory against visiting Southern Miss last Saturday.

That ended a three-game losing streak for MSU, which is tied with Arkansas for last place in the SEC West.

But a second straight win against an in-state rival in five days would make MSU the undisputed champion of the Magnolia State for 2023.

Rogers had missed four games because of a shoulder injury and Marks had missed three games because of a leg injury.

“It’s kind of like you’re starting the season over, essentially,” Rogers said. “It was nice to get the flow of rhythm back in my game a little bit.”

Rogers, who owns virtually every passing record in Bulldogs history, completed 12 of 27 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns, one of which went for 15 yards to Marks, who rushed for 34 additional yards.

Jeffery Pittman led the way with 98 yards and a touchdown as MSU had its second-highest rushing total of the season (238).

“Those are two of our most dynamic players on offense, and our offense runs through them,” linebacker Jett Johnson said. “It was great to have them back.”

–Field Level Media

Mississippi Rebels coach Lane Kiffin celebrates a pass interference call as Auburn Tigers take on Mississippi Rebels at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. Mississippi Rebels defeated Auburn Tigers 28-21.

No. 13 Ole Miss back home to face ULM with ‘a lot to play for’

Ole Miss lost to Alabama in September to fall behind in the SEC West Division race. The Rebels lost to Georgia last week to snap a five-game winning streak.

Both of those games were on the road.

The No. 13 Rebels (8-2, 5-2) are 6-0 at home as they prepare to host Louisiana-Monroe in a non-conference game to conclude their home schedule Saturday.

“The chance to have an undefeated home season is awesome, so obviously a lot to play for with that,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said. “Senior day for our guys, a number of them to play their last game here, is special. We’re excited to get this opportunity to get to nine wins, and going undefeated at home would be great.”

The Rebels’ hopes of winning the SEC West fizzled with their 24-10 loss at Alabama, and they were still a national player in the top 10 of the CFP rankings before their 52-17 loss at Georgia.

“You are what you put on film that day. We weren’t very good,” Kiffin said. “When you get knocked down, do you get back up or do you stay down?”

Kiffin recognizes that Ole Miss has a quick turnaround after the game against ULM before it faces in-state rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night in Starkville, Miss.

It would be helpful to the Rebels to take command of Saturday’s game against the Warhawks early and get some starters some rest with a short week looming before such an important game.

“It’s always good for your players to have a lower play count,” Kiffin said. “It would be ideal to have lower snap counts, and it’s always good to get more guys experience.”

ULM is 2-8 overall 0-7 in the Sun Belt Conference after consecutive league losses to Southern Miss and Troy.

Warhawks coach Terry Bowden said his goal is to try to finish this season on a high note while setting a positive tone for next season.

“It’s been a year of perseverance,” Bowden said. “We’ve lost a lot of close games. You’ve got to keep your guys playing as hard as they can because if they’re getting better, you’re going to make the best you can out of this season.”

Bowden said he’s trying to balance being as competitive as possible in the last two games while getting a head start on next season.

He said he won’t play freshman quarterback Blake Murphy, who has played in three games as the backup to starter Jiya Wright, against the Rebels so he can play him in the season finale against in-state and Sun Belt Conference rival Louisiana-Lafayette without losing Murphy’s redshirt.

“We’ve got to think of what we can do to become better right now and then get ready for next season,” Bowden said. “Your first goal is trying to get your guys to get better every game and go into the last two games as good as we possibly can be.

“You don’t bench people and play rookies. Your upperclassmen have a chance to go out there and do the best they can. You want to make sure you honor them and you want to win.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Kendall Milton (2) scores a touchdown against the Mississippi Rebels during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Georgia tops No. 9 Ole Miss, clinches SEC East title

Kendall Milton rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns, Daijun Edwards added two touchdown runs and No. 2 Georgia clinched the SEC East division title by routing No. 9 Ole Miss 52-17 on Saturday night in Athens, Ga.

Carson Beck passed for 306 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs (10-0, 7-0), who will face No. 8 Alabama for the SEC title on Dec. 2 in Atlanta.

Quinshon Judkins rushed for both touchdowns for the Rebels (8-2, 5-2), who saw their five-game winning streak end.

Georgia outgained Ole Miss 611-352 and held Jaxson Dart to 112 passing yards.

Milton ran 33 yards for a touchdown and Georgia extended its lead to 35-14 midway through the third quarter.

Peyton Woodring’s 27-yard field goal increased the lead to 38-14 at the end of the third quarter.

On the second play of the fourth quarter, Beck threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Brock Bowers, who was returning from a two-game absence due to an ankle injury.

The Rebels’ Caden Davis kicked a 29-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter and the Bulldogs’ Andrew Paul ran 4 yards for a touchdown to complete the scoring.

Ole Miss received the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards, the last 15 of which came on Judkins’ touchdown run.

On the ensuing possession, Georgia drove 75 yards, tying the score on a 1-yard touchdown run by Edwards.

The Rebels drove to the Bulldogs’ 40 before turning the ball over on downs. Edwards had two carries for 31 yards before Beck threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Ladd McConkey to give Georgia a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

On the second play of the second quarter, Judkins ran 4 yards for a tying touchdown.

Beck’s 41-yard completion to McConkey set up Edwards’ 1-yard touchdown run and Milton added a 7-yard touchdown run for a 28-14 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers (19) runs after a catch against the Kentucky Wildcats at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia TE Brock Bowers a game-time decision vs. Ole Miss

Whether preseason All-American tight end Brock Bowers plays for No. 2 Georgia on Saturday against No. 9 Ole Miss will be a game-time decision.

Bowers had a procedure known as tight-rope surgery to deal with a high-ankle sprain on Oct. 16. At the time, it was believed he’d be out four to six weeks.

His father told the Athens (Ga) Banner-Herald on Friday, however, that there is a shot Bowers will play in the home clash with the Rebels (8-1). And a chance he won’t, too.

“There is no timeline for return to play,” Warren Bowers said via text message, per the newspaper. “It all depends on how the ankle is responding. It could be this week. It could be next week. It could be the following week. Or not at all. It all depends.”

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said Friday on “The Pat McAfee Show” that Bowers is inching closer to playing.

“I still don’t know that Brock’s completely healthy,” Smart said. “Brock’s in a much better place to be able to go out and compete and be closer to going. We’ll find out game time.”

Bowers, who turns 21 next month, has missed two games since sustaining the injury in a 37-20 win at Vanderbilt.

Still, he leads Georgia (9-0) with 41 catches for 567 yards and four touchdowns this season. He also has a rushing touchdown.

Wide receiver Dominic Lovett has caught 39 passes for 398 yards with two touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels running back Quinshon Judkins (4) runs the ball for a touchdown during the first half against the Texas A&M Aggies at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Ole Miss survives visit from Texas A&M 38-35

Quinshon Judkins ran for three touchdowns, including a go-ahead score from 1 yard out with 1:40 remaining, and No. 10 Ole Miss fought off Texas A&M 38-35 in an SEC game Saturday afternoon in Oxford, Miss.

Judkins finished with 102 yards rushing, Jaxson Dart passed for 387 yards and two touchdowns and Tre Harris caught 11 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown for the Rebels (8-1, 5-1 SEC), who won their fifth straight.

Max Johnson passed for 305 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score for the Aggies (5-4, 3-3). He drove Texas A&M into position to try a tying field goal on the final play of the fourth quarter, but Deantre Prince deflected Randy Bond’s 47-yard attempt, which fell short.

Johnson leaped over the line of scrimmage for a 1-yard touchdown that gave Texas A&M its only lead, 35-31, with 4:34 left in the game, but Dart drove the Rebels 75 yards in nine plays.

Judkins’ 6-yard touchdown run and Dart’s two-point conversion pass to Harris increased Ole Miss’ lead to 28-14 lead midway through the third quarter.

Johnson threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Jake Johnson before Caden Davis kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Rebels a 31-21 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Amari Daniels ran 1 yard for a touchdown that got the Aggies within three points with 12:04 remaining.

Judkins’ 9-yard touchdown run gave Ole Miss a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Dart’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Harris increased the lead to 14-0.

Ole Miss tried to add to the lead, but Davis’ 41-yard field goal was blocked by Shemar Turner, and Jacoby Mathews returned it 68 yards for a touchdown that pulled the Aggies within 14-7.

Four plays after the ensuing kickoff, Dart and Jordan Watkins combined on a 29-yard touchdown pass that gave the Rebels a 20-7 lead.

Le’Veon Moss’ 13-yard touchdown run got Texas A&M within 20-14 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin watches during a timeout during the second half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Ole Miss, facing Texas A&M, looks to improve SEC footing

The Ole Miss Rebels are trying not to get ahead of themselves.

The Rebels (7-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) debuted at No. 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday night. They are in the thick of the race for the SEC West championship and have a game at No. 2 Georgia looming next week.

Yet Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin maintains that his team’s focus is exclusively on its game against Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2) on Saturday in Oxford, Miss.

“If they were (looking ahead),” Kiffin said of his players, “they got woken up when we showed them the film.”

Ole Miss has won four straight since a 24-10 loss at Alabama. After an epic 55-49 shootout win against LSU, the Rebels’ defense has had a bigger impact, allowing 20 points (Arkansas), 21 points (Auburn) and seven points (Vanderbilt) in the past three games.

The defense allowed 637 yards to LSU, the fourth time in the first five games that it allowed at least 342 yards. But it has not allowed more than 286 yards in any of the past three games.

“I’m pleased with our defense and how we’re playing,” Kiffin said.

The coach also is happy about the Rebels’ improved balance of the offense. Ole Miss’ running game rushed for fewer than 150 yards in three of the first four games but has surpassed that threshold in each of the past four while averaging 228 rushing yards.

The Rebels rank third in the SEC in total offense, averaging 474 yards per game.

“We’re playing a team that can run the ball with the backs, run with the quarterback and throw the ball down the field with very dynamic playmakers,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said.

Kiffin said Texas A&M has “an NFL roster,” adding, “This is a very, very, very elite talented team that very easily could be a top-five team in the country.”

The Aggies have been especially effective on defense, leading the SEC in total defense (269.3 yards per game) and ranking third in scoring defense (19.5 points per game).

“Their defense is playing as well as anyone in the country,” Kiffin said.

The biggest difference between this Texas A&M team and the one last season that finished 5-7 is the defense. Former Louisville and Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino is in his first season as offensive coordinator.

The Aggies are averaging 32.0 points per game, 9.2 more than they averaged as the second-lowest-scoring team in the SEC a year ago.

“Bobby does a great job, always has wherever he’s been,” Kiffin said.

Texas A&M ended a two-game losing streak with a 30-17 home victory against South Carolina last week, but it has lost both games that it has played in opponents’ home stadiums this season. The Rebels are 5-0 at home.

“You’ve got to silence the crowd and (handle) the momentum swings,” Fisher said. “You’ve got to be sound in what you do and you’ve got to understand the mentality that you’ve got to take on the road.

“You’ve got to block out the noise, block out the clutter and go play. You’ve got to execute in critical moments.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) runs with the ball as he is tackled by Vanderbilt Commodores defensive end-linebacker Miles Capers (29) during the first half at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Ole Miss scores quickly, blows out Vanderbilt

Quinshon Judkins rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns as 12th-ranked Ole Miss routed Vanderbilt 33-7 in Oxford, Miss., in their Southeastern Conference matchup on Saturday night.

The Rebels (7-1, 4-1 SEC) led 26-0 at half thanks to a 301-82 edge in total offense.

Jackson Dart threw for 240 yards and Dayton Wade had eight catches for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Vanderbilt (2-7, 0-5), wasn’t competitive from the jump and couldn’t protect starting quarterback Ken Seals, who went 4-of-8 passing for 22 yards and one interception).

Seals was pulled in favor of Walter Taylor in the middle of the second quarter, before briefly returning to Seals in the second half and then pulling him again.

Taylor, a sophomore, hadn’t thrown a pass in his college career until Saturday. He finished the game going 4-of-12 passing for 38 yards and also was picked off once. He rushed 20 times for 59 yards and the Commodores’ only touchdown. It came on Taylor’s 2-yard keeper with 1:57 left in the third quarter.

The Rebels took the opening kickoff and needed only 99 seconds to score, on Judkins’ 18-yard scoring run on a third-and-3 play.

On Vanderbilt first trip, the Rebels’ Zamari Walton stepped in front of a Seals pass and tipped it to Trey Washington for an interception, who returned it 25 yards to the Commodores’ 11. But the Rebels settled for Caden Davis’ 27-yard field goal.

After a Vanderbilt punt, Judkins dashed 40 yards through the middle of the Commodores’ defense to get the Rebels across midfield before Davis hit on a 48-yarder.

After a Vanderbilt punt early in the second quarter, Dart hit Wade with a 48-yard strike down the right sideline, and later, on a fourth-down play inches from the goal line, Dart made it 20-0 on a quarterback keeper.

Another Commodores punt later, Dart found Wade again for a 6-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 26-0 with 7:40 remaining in the first half.

Vanderbilt’s Langston Patterson picked Dart in the final minute of the first half, preventing more Rebels points.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels running back Quinshon Judkins (4) runs the ball  during the first half against the LSU Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Ole Miss guarding against upset when Vanderbilt visits

No. 12 Ole Miss hopes to take another step toward playing for a conference title when it hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday in Oxford, Miss.

The Rebels are riding a three-game winning streak, the most recent victory being last Saturday’s 28-21 win at Auburn.

While Ole Miss (6-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) has primarily been known more for its offense under Lane Kiffin, the Rebels held Auburn to 275 yards a week after limiting Arkansas to 286. It’s the first time Ole Miss has held consecutive SEC opponents to fewer than 300 yards since 2009.

The Rebels, 24 1/2-point favorites over Vandy, trailed the Commodores at halftime last season before a second-half explosion keyed a 52-28 win in Nashville. Kiffin, addressing the issue of how to keep his team from becoming complacent as a heavy favorite, referenced that game as well as Virginia’s upset of North Carolina as tools the Rebels are using to combat that.

“We showed them some upsets that just happened, especially a really big one over in the ACC,” Kiffin said. “These guys were beating us at halftime last year. We’ve got a lot of work to put in, a lot of work to do, so it’s a lot more about us than who we’re playing.”

Ole Miss averages 39.7 points and 480.1 yards per game, with quarterback Jaxson Dart (1,840 yards passing, 346 rushing, 19 total touchdowns) leading the way. The improved health of wide receiver Tre Harris (102 of his 469 receiving yards last week) and tight end Caden Prieskorn (63 of his 125) has made the Rebels even more dangerous.

So has the re-emergence of preseason All-American Quinshon Judkins, who has recovered from a slow start to amass 366 of his 567 rushing yards over Ole Miss’ three-game winning streak.

Vanderbilt (2-6, 0-4) comes off a bye week in the midst of a difficult six-game skid. Last time out, the Commodores gave No. 1 Georgia a brief fourth-quarter scare before falling 37-20 in Nashville.

Turnovers — an SEC-leading 14, with a league-worst nine interceptions — have plagued Vanderbilt this season.

But the Commodores have started to get that under control as coach Clark Lea made Ken Seals the starting quarterback the last three games. In them, Seals has passed for 740 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.

“We’re going to stay the course with Ken,” Lea said. “We appreciate how he’s taken care of the ball. We’ve seen enough in the last few weeks to see Ken has stepped forward with confidence.”

Seals could use some help from the running game, which gained 18 yards on 15 carries vs. Georgia.

Perhaps the team’s biggest problem has been defense. The Commodores have allowed 437.5 yards and 34.4 points per game and a 50 percent conversion rate on third down (57-for-114).

Secondary health has been a part of that. All five of Vandy’s starting defensive backs have missed time with injury.

This week, Lea termed starting safeties De’Rickey Wright and CJ Taylor as “questionable” and “doubtful,” respectively. Starting cornerback BJ Anderson is again out, while starting cornerback Martel Hight (who missed the Georgia game) is back this week.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Auburn, Alabama, USA;  Mississippi Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) carries against the Auburn Tigers during the first quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 Mississippi holds off upset-minded Auburn

Jaxson Dart threw for 202 yards and rushed for two touchdowns Saturday night as No. 13 Ole Miss pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 28-21 Southeastern Conference win over Auburn in Auburn, Ala.

Dart snapped a 14-14 tie on the last play of the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run, capping an 89-yard drive. On their next possession, the Rebels (6-1, 3-1) marched 68 yards and took just over five minutes off the clock before Quinshon Judkins powered up the middle for a 4-yard scoring run with 7:51 left in the game.

The Tigers (3-4, 0-4) got within a touchdown with 56 seconds remaining when Payton Thorne found Rivaldo Fairweather with an 8-yard touchdown pass. However, Dayton Wade recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the outcome and give Ole Miss just its second win in its last 10 visits to Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Judkins rushed for a game-high 124 yards on 21 carries for the Rebels, who outgained Auburn 425 to 275 and owned an advantage of just over eight minutes in time of possession. Tre Harris caught four passes for 102 yards.

The Tigers rotated Thorne and Robbie Ashford at quarterback but neither could consistently move a struggling offense. Thorne was 9-of-13 for 100 yards with an interception, while Ashford completed 3 of 4 attempts for 22 yards with an interception.

Ole Miss initiated scoring at the 4:55 mark of the first quarter when Dart, who finished 10-of-17, hit Zakhari Franklin with an 11-yard touchdown pass. Auburn tied it less than two minutes later when Jarquez Hunter ripped off a 53-yard scoring jaunt.

Dart restored a seven-point lead for the Rebels when he kept it on a fourth-and-1 play and zipped 29 yards with 24 seconds left in the period. But his interception on Ole Miss’ next possession gave the Tigers a 24-yard field that they cashed in with Hunter’s 1-yard touchdown run 11:44 before halftime, evening the score at 14.

–Field Level Media