By Adam Brown
Ole Miss won the Egg Bowl trophy back from in-state rival Mississippi State 31-24 on Saturday night, closing out the home slate of the 2020 season.
“Really neat win,” Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin said. “First time being a part of this rivalry. You feel the energy from our fans. Can’t imagine what it would be like if it was full. Our players got great sideline energy.”
Ole Miss (4-4, 4-4) had an opportunity to open the game in the first half, although Kiffin did not feel the Rebels succeeded at first.
“We did not play great,” Kiffin said. “Really thought we should have opened the game up there in the first half… to make it 28-7 at the time.”
Nonetheless, Kiffin was more than happy to have pulled off a win against MSU.
“It was great to come across with a win,” Kiffin said. “I wish we had played cleaner and better. Happy for our fans and players. It’s great to get the trophy back where it belongs, and let’s keep it here for a long time.”
In the first quarter of the game, the Ole Miss defense came up with a fumble recovery on the goal line. Tylan Knight forced the fumble picked up by Deane Leonard and returned to the Bulldogs 16-yard line.
“A big momentum swing that we almost scored on it,” Kiffin said. “That was huge. That is what happens in a rivalry game in which records don’t matter and they are very competitive.”
The Ole Miss defense had Otis Reese in the lineup for the first time this season after issues with a transfer waiver prevented Reese from playing for the majority of the season after arriving from Georgia.
“It was great to go out there and be out there with the guys,” Reese said. “No jitters, it was me being a leader and getting the defense ready. Every aspect of winning the game was what I was really focusing on more than jitters.”
Junior Elijah Moore broke A.J. Brown’s single-season reception record of 86 against the Bulldogs.
“It is really amazing to do that in eight games against all SEC opponents,” Kiffin said. “When I first got here, I sat him down after watching his film and said that you are going to break the SEC record- not just the school record, but the SEC. I thought we were going to play 12, plus a bowl game. It really is amazing. He is just a great player.”
Ole Miss has two more games remaining on the schedule against LSU and Texas A&M. On Friday, the conference office shuffled the LSU contest to a later date. Next weekend, the Rebels will have another week off to prepare.
“Not sure exactly what we will do,” Kiffin said. “We can’t treat it like a bye weekend because they need it to keep playing and keep this momentum.”