Last year’s game, played in Oxford, was won by Mississippi State 35-3. The contest was marred by a bench-clearing brawl that saw seven players ejected from the contest at the end of the third quarter. Every player on each team were issued unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Coach: Matt Luke
Ole Miss Players to watch
Senior DT/NG Benito Jones (6-2/305)
As a senior, Jones has nine tackles-for-loss, four sacks and 27 tackles. He has nice size, plenty of athleticism, displays the ability to beat defenders off the snap and makes plays outside the box. He has the style to line up as a three-technique tackle as well as the frame to be used as a one-gap nose tackle.
Jones continues to show good hand placement, quickly recognizing and shedding blocks, allowing him to make plays which is one of the biggest things you have to do to be a nose tackle. Jones is really good at it. In fact, he contemplated entering the NFL Draft after his junior campaign. He finished the 2018 season with 34 tackles and six quarterback hurries, finishing second on the team in both tackles-for-loss (nine) and sacks (three).
On Nov 16, Jones left the game with LSU with what was said to be a head injury. Head Coach Matt Luke said this week that he believed Jones “is going to be OK,” and will play against Mississippi State.
Senior RT Alex Givens (6-6/305)
Givens, who has started every game at right tackle this season, anchors an offensive line that has paved the way for the top rushing attack in the SEC. The Rebels are No. 9 nationally in rushing yards per game (261.5) and rank third in the SEC in total offense (450.8). Ole Miss has surpassed the 400-yard rushing mark three separate times this season, the first such occurrence in school history.
The Nashville, Tennessee, native has made 45 career appearances in a Rebel uniform, including 35 starts. Ever since stepping foot on campus, Givens has been part of an Ole Miss offense that has led the conference in either passing or rushing yards every season.
Senior RB Scottie Phillips (5-11/211)
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke said senior running back Scottie Phillips is “probable” to play in the Egg Bowl. Phillips missed last week’s LSU game with an ankle injury.
Last year, the JUCO transfer has burst onto the scene for the Rebels, rushing for 637-yards and 8 TDs on just 90 carries, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. He’s provided some balance to the offense with his decisive, downhill running style and ability to make one-cut and get upfield. He has shown good power, vision and burst along with natural balance and body control. In what is considered a down year for backs in the draft, Phillips could quickly rise if he could stay healthy.
With Phillips fighting injuries, it has been the freshman trio of Plumlee, Ealy and Conner that has led the way, combining for 2,110 yards and 21 touchdowns.
***Freshman KR/RB Jerrion Ealy (5-10/200)
The Walnut Grove, Mississippi, native has tallied 640 rushing yards on 89 carries, including five touchdowns on the ground. “My adjustment to the college game has been fine. Things are coming to me easier and easier every time I step on the field,” Ealy explained. “The O-Line is getting better and better every game, I’m getting better and better every day and the whole team is progressing every day.” The true freshman has over 1,000 all-purpose yards for the season.
Ealy is currently averaging 24.4 yards per kick return, including a 94-yard TD return vs. Southeastern Louisiana in Week 3. He has also hauled in 17 catches for 140 yards and one TD. He is the first Ole Miss player since 2012 (Jaylen Walton) to record a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same season.
***Freshman QB John Rhys Plumlee (6-1/185)
By the end of the season, true freshman John Rhys Plumlee likely will be the only 1,000-yard rusher at quarterback in Ole Miss history. Plumlee needs just 11 yards in the Egg Bowl to reach the feat.
To make the feat even more amazing, he has done this after appearing in only eight games this season. He would be one of only two freshman quarterbacks in SEC history to rush for more than 1,000 yards, joining Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel in 2012.
Coach: Joe Moorhead
Mississippi State Players to watch:
Senior OC Darryl Williams (6-2/310)
Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins made the move from guard to center last year and that versatility helped Jenkins become a second round draft pick back in April. Williams is hoping for similar results. The 6-foot-3, 310-pounder from Bessemer, Alabama, has started 31 of the last 32 games for the Bulldogs and only surrendered one sack over that span. Williams has made 303 snaps this season and only allowed three quarterback pressures.
*Junior MLB Erroll Thompson (6-1/250)
“He’s a really good football player, and he’s a really bright kid,” said Mississippi State linebackers coach Tem Lukabu. “He put the time in to learn the package, he put the time in to learn the system. His teammates trust him, and he’s doing his job.”
“One thing that separates him from a lot of other players I’ve been around is his work ethic,” said Jason Wallace, Thompson’s high school head coach at Florence. “He doesn’t just have a good work ethic, he has one of those extreme work ethics. He’s going to do what everybody else is going to do and then go slip away to do more.”
MSU head coach Joe Moorhead calls Thompson a cerebral player and the “quarterback of the defense.” Moorhead said Thompson’s 73 tackles are the result of a combination of talent, execution and intelligence.
*Junior CB Cameron Dantzler (6-2/185)
Boasting a combination of height, speed, and athleticism, Dantzler has emerged as one of Mississippi State’s most lethal defensive weapon. Dantzler ranks third in the SEC among cornerbacks with a 39.2 passer rating allowed this season (minimum 15 targets).
He currently has 31 total tackles, 22 solo, two interceptions, a fumble recovery, and seven pass breakups on the year. Dantzler’s length intrigues scouts and has and continued to be a problem for the opposition. In addition to his wide array of skills, Dantzler’s leadership has been key for the Bulldogs.
*Junior RB Kylin Hill (5-11/215)
On Nov. 2, Mississippi State junior running back Kylin Hill ran for a career-high 234 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 54-24 win at Arkansas. His performance earned him SEC Offensive Player of the Week recognition. “Teams previously have stacked the box, so I can’t be back there making too many moves,” Hill said earlier this year. “I have to be decisive, see the hole, hit it and get what I can get.” His day included three explosives, runs of 62, 58 and 37 yards.
Hill became the first player in school history with over 230 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the same game. The 234 rushing yards were the fifth-most by an MSU player in school history and just 24 shy of the school record. With the performance, Hill went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season, went over 2,000 for his career, and he tallied his SEC leading sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season.
*Junior STAR Brian Cole II (5-11/215)
Brian Cole II has started 13 of 14 games at MSU the past two seasons after stops at Michigan and East Mississippi Community College to start his career. A native of Saginaw, Michigan, Cole is one of four team captains. The JUCO tranfer is the Bulldogs’ leader in tackles-for-loss and second in sacks eleven games into his senior season.
Cole will represent the Bulldogs at the Senior Bowl on Jan. 25 at 1:30 p.m. at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama and televised on NFL Network.
*Junior FS C.J. Morgan (6-0/200)
Morgan is an instinctive, hard-hitting safety that is coming off a strong sophomore campaign; he took over as starting free safety, replacing four-year letterwinner Mark McLaurin. Morgan, an Iowa State transfer, has played in 22 contests, collecting 88 career tackles, one interception and nine pass break-up. Morgan is now unfortunately out for the year with a lower body injury.