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Egg Bowl Win Significant for Ole Miss

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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A golden egg brings some shine to what has been a dark year.

It has been a long year for Ole Miss. The summer resignation of head coach Hugh Freeze only added to the already-brewing storm of trouble around the program, with NCAA sanctions looming and the Rebels having self-imposed a bowl ban for 2017. Interim head coach Matt Luke, a former center for the Rebels and a prominent assistant, took over at a time when Ole Miss had many more questions than answers.

Though they opened the season with consecutive wins, the Rebels started just 1-5 against power five competition and 1-4 in the SEC. Included in that stretch was a 66-3 loss to top-ranked Alabama. To make matters worse, star quarterback Shea Patterson was lost for the year with a knee injury against LSU. After a dramatic home defeat to Arkansas in a game where Ole Miss blew a 31-7 lead, there simply wasn't much to feel good about.

Since that low point, the Rebels have had nowhere to go but up, a climb they completed with an Egg Bowl triumph on Thanksgiving night.

Ole Miss made a statement early on in Starkville, with Jordan Ta'amu finding A.J. Brown for 58 on yards on the second play from scrimmage and Jordan Wilkins running for a 22-yard touchdown on the third. On the ensuing drive, the first of the night for Mississippi State, Myles Hartsfield picked off Nick Fitzgerald, who would unfortunately suffer a devastating injury later in the contest. The Rebels held a convincing 24-6 fourth quarter lead, ultimately fending off a late rally and leaving with an important 31-28 victory.

Wilkins rushed for 110 yards and two scores, Brown caught six passes for 167 yards and a touchdown and the Ole Miss defense forced five turnovers.

Though no trip to the postseason awaits, Luke and the Rebels finish a respectable 6-6 with the win. Ole Miss topped Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi State to get to .500, going 3-1 in the month of November and knocking the Bulldogs out of the College Football Playoff top 15 along the way. Previously, Mississippi State's only losses were to Alabama, Auburn and Georgia, each national championship contenders. The Rebels saved their best performance for last.

A golden egg, for Ole Miss, brings some shine to what has been a dark year. Thursday's triumph helps the Rebels both move on from what has been while offering hope for what could be.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports