College Football Odds & Picks for Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss: Egg Bowl’s Betting Value on Rebels
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Corral.
- Mike Leach's Mississippi State Bulldogs will make the trek to Oxford, Mississippi, on Saturday to face Lane Kiffin's Ole Miss Rebels in 2020's Egg Bowl.
- With two new offensive-minded head coaches entering the state this season, both will be looking for bragging rights in this rivalry game.
- Mike Ianniello breaks down where the betting value is for the Egg Bowl below.
Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss Odds
|Mississippi State Odds||+10 [BET NOW]|
|Ole Miss Odds||-10 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+245 / -315 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||71 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 4 p.m. ET|
On Dec. 7, 2019, Lane Kiffin agreed to leave Florida Atlantic University to become the new head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels. One month later, on Jan. 9, 2020, Mike Leach left Washington State and was named the new head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Just like that, two of the most polarizing and outspoken coaches in all of college football were located in the state of Mississippi and the Egg Bowl became must-see TV.
College football fans quickly got excited about the possibility of seeing two high-flying offenses meeting in a high-scoring affair after Thanksgiving. Well, up to this point in the season, only one offense has held up its end of the bargain and lived up to expectations.
The Golden Egg trophy has been awarded to the winning team in this matchup since 1927, and in a season that has been largely disappointing for both teams, you can guarantee both of these fan bases want nothing more than in-state bragging rights in their coach’s first year.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Leach and his Air Raid offense debuted in the SEC with a resounding statement, putting up a conference record 623 passing yards in a 44-34 win over the defending national champion LSU Tigers.
But ever since Leach’s pirate ship looked like it was taking over the SEC, it has been a sinking ship dropping to the bottom of the SEC West standings.
After scoring 44 points in its first game, Mississippi State managed to score just 30 in its next four games combined. It has yet to eclipse 24 points in any other games this season and has been held under 360 total yards in five straight games.
Out of 127 FBS teams playing this season, the Bulldog offense ranks 116th in scoring, 127th in rushing, 110th in total offense, 100th in third-down conversions, 119th in red-zone conversions, 99th in efficiency, 125th in explosiveness and 116th in points per opportunity.
Just weeks after setting the SEC passing record, quarterback K.J. Costello was benched for true freshman Will Rogers.
As it turns out, every defensive coordinator in the SEC — except for LSU’s Bo Pelini — has studied the blueprint that Washington and Jimmy Lake laid out for how to shut down the Leach Air Raid. When teams play a zone defense and drop eight defenders into coverage, it renders the passing attack completely inefficient. LSU insisted on playing man-to-man and was torched, but every team since has just sat back in zone and shut down the Bulldogs.
Despite the struggles to pass the ball, Leach has remained stubborn and still refuses to run the ball. The Bulldogs rank last in the country in rushing offense, averaging 21.5 rushing yards per game and 1.3 yards per carry. Mississippi State runs the ball just 19% of the time, with the next lowest team rushing it on 33% of plays.
I’m sure everybody expected the strength of Leach’s team to be its defense, right? After last year’s Washington State team finished 111th in the country in total defense, Mississippi State sits 39th in total defense this season.
However, the defense has given up over 400 yards in its past three games, including allowing JT Daniels to throw for 401 yards in his first start for Georgia last week.
Overall, this has been about as bad of a season as you could hope in Starkville. The Bulldogs have lost so many players to the transfer portal, preseason opt-outs, midseason opt-outs, injuries, and COVID-19 protocols that they were down to just 49 scholarship players last week against Georgia. The program seems to lose additional players with each passing week, and it’s now relying on many freshmen and inexperienced players.
Ole Miss Rebels
Unlike the Bulldogs, Ole Miss’ new offensive coach has lived up to the hype. Lane Kiffin is more than just an entertaining follow on Twitter. He’s also a fantastic offensive mind.
Kiffin has the Rebels’ offense clicking on all cylinders and averaging 41 points per game. The No. 10 offense according to SP+, Ole Miss is third in the country in yards per game and 14th in Offensive Success Rate.
The Rebels rank sixth in the country in Passing Success, led by a pair of breakout stars in quarterback Matt Corral and wide receiver Elijah Moore.
After being replaced as the starter in the second half of the 2019 season, Corral regained the starting job in the offseason and has thrived in Kiffin’s system.
After averaging just 136.2 passing last year, Corral has thrown for 337 yards per game in 2020. He ranks in the top 10 nationally in passing yards, touchdowns, yards per attempt, completion percentage, and quarterback rating while ranking second in total offense.
Wide receiver Elijah Moore has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Rebel offense. Of all completions for Ole Miss this season, 44% have been caught by Moore. His 74 receptions and 1,054 yards lead the nation, and he ranks third in receptions of 10+ yards.
Moore has developed into one of the best route runners in college football and has been dominant against single coverage this season. He has created separation from his defender on 78% of his targets against single coverage, the third-best rate by a Power Five player, per Pro Football Focus.
While it’s easy to think of Ole Miss as this high-powered passing offense, don’t sleep on its running game. The Rebels run the ball at the 28th-highest clip in the country (58%) and are 25th in rushing yards per game.
Ole Miss fans are probably hoping I just end this section without mentioning the defense. I will just keep it brief — the defense stinks. Out of 127 teams, the Rebel defense ranks 124th in scoring, 125th in total yards, 125th in Rushing Success and 124th in Passing Success.
Betting Analysis & Pick
While the Bulldogs’ effort against Georgia last week with just 49 players left on scholarship was admirable, playing with that little depth is a recipe for disaster.
Ole Miss is going to score. Its offense is good enough to move the ball on anybody, and while Mississippi State’s defense has been better than expected, it’s not elite enough to shut down the Lane Train.
This handicap comes down to what the Mississippi State offense can do against the Ole Miss defense. These are two of the worst units in the entire country. The Rebel defense has struggled to stop anybody this year, but the Bulldog offense tends to frequently stop itself. Only two teams in the country have turned the ball over more than Mississippi State this season.
It can sometimes be hard to factor in extra motivation for teams, but in this game, that should lean the Ole Miss way. For starters, you can bet Kiffin wants to make sure to win his first Egg Bowl against Leach and clearly mark his territory as the top coach in the state of Mississippi. It may have been seven years ago, but when Kiffin’s USC Trojans played Leach’s Washington State Cougars in 2013, Kiffin’s squad held the Leach offense to just three points.
Speaking of marking his territory… how about Moore? It’s hard to imagine the country’s leading receiver elevating his stellar play any more, but after Moore cost his team a win in last year’s Egg Bowl with a bonehead celebration, you can rest assured he will be extra motivated to make up for last year’s blunder with a big performance.
Despite the defensive struggles this year for Ole Miss, the game plan to stop the Leach Air Raid is a rather simple one. The Rebel offense will be able to do what it has done all season, and Kiffin will pull out all of the tricks in this rivalry matchup to make sure his Rebels are lifting the Golden Egg on Saturday.
Pick: Ole Miss -9.5 (up to -11.5)