Kiffin plans to return; No. 20 Ole Miss falls to Bulldogs

Mississippi State running back Jo'quavious Marks (7) gestures after scoring on a 1-yard...
Mississippi State running back Jo'quavious Marks (7) gestures after scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run against Mississippi during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)(Rogelio V. Solis | AP)
Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 7:03 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi State coach Mike Leach admitted the Egg Bowl series with Ole Miss ranks among the nation’s elite rivalries in unpredictability.

“Both sides let the other think they’d won it,” Leach said. “It was erratic on both sides. Just about the time you think it couldn’t get any crazier, it did.”

Will Rogers passed for two touchdowns and Mississippi State stopped a potential game-tying 2-point conversion with 1:25 remaining to preserve a 24-22 Egg Bowl win over No. 20 Mississippi on Thursday night.

“This game had a season’s worth of excitement in it,” Leach said. “It was a wild game. An up and down game.”

The build-up to the Egg Bowl was dominated by conflicting reports whether Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin will leave to become head coach at Auburn, replacing Bryan Harsin, who was fired in October.

Kiffin met privately with his team Wednesday confirming his plans to remain. However, WCBI-TV of Columbus, Mississippi, reported Kiffin will be announced as the Auburn head coach as soon as Friday. Kiffin denied the report on social media Wednesday.

When asked after the game if he planned on being the head coach at Ole Miss next season, Kiffin simply said, “Yes I do.”

Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4 SEC), which snapped a two-game losing streak in the series, rallied from a 16-7 deficit in the second quarter with a 10-point outburst in the fourth quarter. Massimo Biscardi hit a go-ahead 34-yard field goal before Rogers connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass to Rara Thomas to build the 24-16 lead with 7:58 remaining.

Ole Miss (8-4, 4-4 SEC) answered when Jaxson Dart threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Dayton Wade with 1:25 left, capping a 99-yard drive and closing within 24-22.

After two Ole Miss timeouts to set up the two-point try, Mississippi State defensive tackle Randy Charlton batted down a shuttle pass from Dart to preserve Mississippi State’s the advantage. J.P. Purvis recovered the ensuring onside kick to seal it, setting off a postgame celebration undimmed by steady rain.

“It’s a great win. A great win,” Leach said. “We responded in some really tough situations. It’s a great win for the program, a great win for the players and they’re really excited about it.”

Rogers finished 27 of 39 passing for 239 yards, converting 8 of 16 on third down. Jo’quavious Marks led the Bulldogs with 74 yards rushing on 14 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown run.

Dart was 30 of 38 passing for 250 yards and two touchdown, including a 2-yard touchdown to J.J. Pegues in the second quarter. Ole Miss was limited to a season-low 331 total yards. Quinshon Judkins had 87 yards on 21 rushes, but the Rebels finished with 74 rushing yards after two sacks.

“Really didn’t think we did a really good job coaching in game with adjustments,” Kiffin said. “Credit Mississippi State, too. They played hard.”

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.