Veteran sports writer Parrish Alford takes a look at the Week 12 matchups for Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.
Last time out pick record was 2-0, making 23-5 overall for the 2023 season.
Let’s take a look at the Week 12 matchups for Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.
Southern Miss at Mississippi State
Time: 11 a.m. Streaming: ESPN-Plus, SEC Network-Plus
At the beginning of the season this game looked like Mississippi on Mississippi violence. Now it looks like a pillow fight.
With two regular season games remaining there are 13 losses between the two.
I arrived on the scene in Mississippi as the Southern Miss beat writer for The Meridian Star in 1989.
The second game that season was Mississippi State at Southern Miss. It was explained to me that this series didn’t compare with State and Ole Miss as the “rivalry” game in the state.
I understood, but there was more of a rivalry feel in this series then. In 1989 Mississippi State “upset” Southern Miss to beat Brett Favre’s Golden Eagles 26-23.
It’s an upset when an unranked team beats a ranked team, right? Southern Miss was coming off a 30-26 win at No. 6 Florida State, a real upset.
M.M. Roberts Stadium was more full that night than for most games.
State won again in 1990, and then the Bulldogs and Golden Eagles didn’t play again for 24 years.
Now they’re playing for the fourth time in 10 years.
In the 80s some referred to State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss as Mississippi’s “Big 3,” even though it was clear the SEC was a different level than USM and schools of its size.
That’s much more true since the SEC has expanded and its television dollars multiplied.
There’s a much bigger difference most of the time but not necessarily this time.
When signs point to bad football the determining factor is often who wants it most, and that’s a hard call right now.
State’s had a tough week with its coach being fired.
Sometimes that creates a spark, and that’s what MSU AD Zac Selmon is hoping for.
Selmon installed Greg Knox as interim coach who must lead the nation in interim coach appearances. This will be his third go-round as a transitional fill-in, his second at State. He was the interim coach for Dan Mullen at State and later at Florida.
Knox is 2-1 as an interim coach and has a bowl win.
The more pressing question for the Bulldogs is what’s quarterback Will Rogers’ status?
Rogers struggled against the better opponents like LSU and Alabama while trying to learn a new offense, but when healthy he gives State its best chance to win. That’s been painfully obvious as he’s been away.
If Rogers doesn’t play he could be awful rusty in the Egg Bowl should he be available then.
If he does play – and is needed to play the whole game – a five-day turnaround for the Egg Bowl could really be a problem for Rogers’ shoulder.
The Bulldogs have also missed Woody Marks, a powerful and versatile running back, the last three games.
If these two key offensive weapons are available State will be fine against the No. 124 pass efficiency defense and No. 123 scoring defense.
State has averaged less than 10 points a game in Rogers’ absence.
As losses mounted for Southern Miss, coach Will Hall tried several ways to halt the trend.
One was with extended practice periods of No. 1 offense against No. 1 defense.
“We were so young we felt like we needed to grow and develop,” he said.
The change that’s gotten the most attention has been play-calling. Hall has given it up.
The Golden Eagles are 2-1 since offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Sam Gregg and quarterbacks coach Jordy Joseph have been calling plays.
The first game ended in the Golden Eagles’ seven-straight loss, a 48-38 decision at Appalachian State.
It also produced 588 yards – 301 on the ground – and 33 first downs.
The Golden Eagles – in spite of fumbling on their own 1 late in the third quarter – led 38-28 entering the fourth but gave up touchdowns on a 49-yard pass, a 61-yard and a 21-yard pass.
Execution was better in wins over the Louisianas, 24-7 against Monroe in Hattiesburg and 34-31 in overtime at Lafayette.
Against the Ragin’ Cajuns, the Eagles lost two fumbles but averaged 4.9 yards per play.
Southern Miss has seen improved play along the offensive line, but now it’s facing an SEC front seven that has had some success getting after the quarterback.
Linebackers Jett Johnson and Nathaniel Watson are Nos. 1 and 2 in the SEC in tackles and have combined for 14 sacks.
Protection of Billy Wiles is paramount if the Eagles are to give themselves a chance. With a little time in the pocket Wiles might be able to exploit the MSU secondary. Most teams have.
After a slow start, Southern Miss running back Frank Gore Jr., has posted three-straight 100-yard games and has 970 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.
Prediction: Mississippi State (with Will Rogers) 24, Southern Miss 17
Louisiana-Monroe at Ole Miss
Time: 11 a.m. TV: SEC Network
It’s November, and Lane Kiffin’s name has been mentioned with another school’s coaching vacancy again, this time Texas A&M.
He doesn’t appear to be the leading candidate, and he does appear to have learned something from last year’s public courtship with Auburn.
This is the game Ole Miss needs before a road Egg Bowl … an early buyout game against a team it should handle easily.
Respect for your opponent is always necessary, and yes, Appalachian State did beat Michigan once.
Last week’s 52-17 loss at Georgia should have the Rebels humble enough to focus and put away the Warhawks early, so they can rest key people before Egg Bowl prep begins.
It saddens me to say it, but my alma mater really doesn’t do much well. They do seem to play respectable defense for stretches within a game.
The only SEC point of reference is a 47-3 loss at Texas A&M.
Prediction: Ole Miss 55, ULM 13
Recipe of the Week
If you’re on the Christmas gift list you may be receiving a loaf.
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 cups sugar
In another bowl, mix:
- 1 cup oil
- 4 eggs
- ⅔ cup of water
- 1 small can of pumpkin
Mix all ingredients. Bake in greased and floured loaf pans for an hour and a half 350 degrees. It may be done in less time. Check it after an hour with a toothpick in the center of the loaf.
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