OXFORD, Miss. – Mississippi State runs the Sip.
Now, will Lane Kiffin run from the Sip?
If Kiffin had deliberate to take a closing bow Thursday evening at Vaught-Hemingway, the Bulldogs wrecked the occasion like an unwelcome marriage ceremony visitor who guzzles all of the whiskey on the open bar.
This Egg Bowl was ugly. Many are.
Rain fell all through the second half. Offense usually regarded like a international idea for each groups.
Follow each recreation: Live NCAA College Football Scores
Mississippi State’s protection grew to become the star. The Bulldogs (8-4, 4-4 SEC) delivered a flurry of red-zone stops. Needing one closing cease, Bulldogs senior Randy Charlton deflected a shovel go on a two-point play that Ole Miss wanted to tie the sport late within the fourth quarter.
For the primary time in Mike Leach’s tenure, the Golden Egg is headed for Starkville after a 24-22 comeback victory.
Where is Kiffin headed?
EGG BOWL: Mississippi State takes down Ole Miss as controversial whistle sparks wild ending
WATCH: Ole Miss football defensive tackle JJ Pegues catches touchdown pass in Egg Bowl
The Ole Miss coach is broadly seen because the frontrunner for Auburn’s teaching opening, and questions about his future loomed over this game.
By Egg Bowl requirements, this was recreation with out hijinks. That contrasted what can solely be described as a wacky week for Ole Miss (8-4, 4-4).
The Lane Train started to leap the rails after a WCBI-TV report on Monday that Kiffin deliberate to just accept the Auburn job after the Egg Bowl. Kiffin responded with a series of tweets through which he mocked the journalist who reported the story.
And but, Kiffin by no means stated the phrases Ole Miss followers wanted to listen to – that he was signing a contract extension to stay the Rebels’ coach. Amid all of his tweets, he additionally by no means denied his curiosity in Auburn.
Kiffin, in an try to rally his group, reportedly met together with his gamers on the eve of the Egg Bowl and advised them he was leaning towards staying. I’m unconvinced. Auburn presents the temptation of a better ceiling than Ole Miss, and Kiffin already has spurned one SEC program, so I’ll imagine he’ll be the Rebels’ coach in 2023 provided that Auburn publicizes another person as its rent within the coming days.
If the Lane Train is certainly fueling up for the subsequent leg of an unpredictable journey, his closing contribution to Ole Miss may have been a flop.
Kiffin is presented with a vivid thoughts for offense, however you wouldn’t have recognized that Thursday, particularly all through the second half.
This evening belonged to the Bulldogs – and, particularly, to Zach Arnett’s protection. MSU bottled up Ole Miss’ vaunted dashing assault.
Six Ole Miss drives penetrated the 35-yard line. Only two resulted in a landing.
Kiffin usually performs the a part of riverboat gambler, however he pivoted to a extra conservative method.
That labored, for probably the most half, till he opted to go for fourth-and-1 within the third quarter, with Ole Miss clinging to a 16-14 lead. The Rebels ran a play-action go, however no receivers ran routes.
Convert the fourth down and punch in a landing, and Ole Miss wins.
Take the sphere objective, and Ole Miss in all probability wins.
Run a play-action go with nobody to throw to, and Ole Miss loses.
A drive that started at MSU’s 36-yard line produced no factors. The Bulldogs took the lead on their ensuing possession. They by no means surrendered it.
MORE:Playoff race clearing up. Week 13 showdowns. Coaching carousel spins. College Football Fix discusses
AUBURN OR OLE MISS? Lane Kiffin’s coaching future remains an entertaining mystery
Ole Miss’ protection deserved a greater destiny. Otis Reese intercepted a go. Tavius Robinson and Troy Brown compelled fumbles. The line of defense harassed Will Rogers. But a Rebels protection that recovered per week after getting gashed by Arkansas obtained no assist from Ole Miss’ offense.
Arnett’s protection didn’t obtain a lot assist, both, however simply sufficient, and Rogers discovered an open Rara Thomas within the fourth quarter a pivotal landing.
The narrative of MSU’s season hinged on this recreation. Leach couldn’t afford to lose this rivalry for a 3rd straight season. Arnett’s protection made positive he didn’t.
The Bulldogs confronted one of many nation’s hardest schedules, however they had been armed with a veteran roster and a third-year beginning quarterback. They raced to a 5-1 file to open the season, so going 7-5 and heading to a lackluster bowl would have felt like a squandered alternative.
Coaches say those that win in November get remembered. Well, State went 3-1 in November, and, for the primary time since 2019, it gained an important recreation on its schedule.
The Bulldogs at the moment are a pretty candidate for the Citrus Bowl.
More importantly, they reclaimed management of the Sip whereas Kiffin’s future stays shrouded in thriller.
Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at [email protected] and comply with him on Twitter @btoppmeyer.
If you take pleasure in Blake’s protection, contemplate a digital subscription that may permit you entry to all of it. Also, take a look at his podcast, SEC Football Unfiltered, or entry unique columns by way of the SEC Unfiltered newsletter.