Before today’s 113th meeting between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, Ole Miss announced that defensive coordinator Dave Wommack was retiring after the season.
After his defense failed to show up today, Mississippi State ended his career with a 55-20 win in Oxford as the Bulldogs offense ran for more than 450 yards.
The win is the Bulldogs’ first in Oxford since 2010, gets Dan Mullen’s squad to a 5-7 (3-5 SEC) regular season record, cements the Rebels’ place in the cellar of the SEC West and knocks Ole Miss out of bowl contention as they finish with the same record as Mississippi State.
Entering the game, Nick Fitzgerald and the Mississippi State rushing game was a bad matchup for Ole Miss and, indeed, it ended up a terrible matchup. By halftime, Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams were both over 100 yards and were averaging more than 14 yards per carry.
10 points from Ole Miss before halftime pulled the Rebels to a respectable (and salvageable) 27-20 deficit, but early in the second half Fitzgerald hooked up with Fred Ross for a 38 yard touchdown on a 4th and 2. On Mississippi State’s next series, Fitzgerald took an innocuous-looking third and two conversion for a 61 yard rushing touchdown as the Bulldogs’ stretched their lead to 21.
Fitzgerald would finish the game with a Mississippi State single-game rushing record of 258 yards on 14 carries and a pair of rushing touchdowns to go along with three passing touchdowns. Williams added another 191 yards on the ground and two more touchdowns.
While the Mississippi State offense was lighting up the scoreboard, their defense shut out Ole Miss in the second half. After settling for a pair of first half field goals to go along with an interception in the end zone, Ole Miss needed to be more efficient in the second half to keep the game competitive. As the game rolled on, they failed on that side of the ball also.
Ole Miss picked up 358 yards in the first half, but was held to 170 yards in the second half and the Bulldogs stopped the Rebels on a trio of fourth down conversion attempts in Mississippi State territory.
The win for Mississippi State could be enough to vault the Bulldogs into a bowl game based on their APR score. Michael Bonner of the Clarion Ledger has a full rundown on Twitter of games which could have an impact on Mississippi State’s bowl prospects, but the crucial outcome will be UCLA at Cal with the Bulldogs needing a Cal victory.
This assumes ULL, USA, Hawaii, and UTSA all get to 6 wins. Like I said, a lot to play out. https://t.co/CBKn6aaASQ— Michael Bonner (@MikeBBonner) November 26, 2016