Kiffin, Rebels look ahead to Egg Bowl

Published 1:32 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2021

OXFORD, Miss. – The No. 8 Ole Miss football team improved to 9-2 on the season with Saturday’s win over Vanderbilt, but with the next challenge coming quickly, the Rebels took no time to celebrate the victory.

Ole Miss went right back to work on Sunday to begin preparations for Thursday’s matchup with No. 25 Mississippi State. Monday brought the team’s only full practice day of the week, and a media opportunity with Lane Kiffin, where the Rebel head coach broke down the challenge that lies ahead on Thanksgiving Day.

“Strange schedule this week. Full practice today, putting all of the situations into one because today is our only real day of practice. It’s challenging is what it is,” Kiffin said. “Very good opponent coming up, extremely tough place to play. It’s a very loud, foreign place that makes you have challenges on offense to have to play in a place like that. Best passing offense in the country, one of the best rush defenses in the country also. That gives you a lot of problems. They’re very multiple, have a lot of really good, long, strong players on defense.”

The short turnaround is exactly what a banged-up Ole Miss team doesn’t need late in the season. However, the Rebels are no stranger to playing hurt, having dealt with countless injuries throughout the year. Receiver Jonathan Mingo returned to the field Saturday after missing seven games, logging one 2-yard reception. Those like Mingo who are able to go will be ready to empty the tank in the regular-season finale.

“I probably won’t be 100 percent until after the season, but I’m good enough to go,” Mingo said. “Just being out there with my brothers. I have other brothers who are hurt. I’m hurt too, but we’re going to fight until the end.”

There will be plenty to fight for when the two rivals meet for the Egg Bowl Trophy. The Bulldogs have won four of their last five games and can head into bowl selection as one of the hottest teams in the country. For Ole Miss, a win would mean the first 10-2 regular season in program history, and potentially a New Year’s Six bid to cap off a remarkable season. For Hattiesburg, Mississippi, native Snoop Conner, the goals are one in the same.

“Both. We want to win the Egg Bowl and bring the egg back here, and we want to get to a New Year’s Six bowl, possibly to the Sugar Bowl,” Conner said. “We want to do both.”

While Conner is familiar with the rivalry having played in it three years, several key contributors, like Maryland transfer linebacker Chance Campbell, are playing in their first Egg Bowl. However, the Rebels’ leading tackler sees his unfamiliarity, as well as the short turnaround, as positives as he looks to remain focused on the field once the cowbells start ringing Thursday night.

“It’s a deep-seeded rivalry and there’s a lot of intensity. It’s a physical game,” Campbell said. “I think one of the things I’m kind of lucky about is, being new to this and having it be such a short turnaround, most of the conversations have been all about football, which I really enjoy. It’s important to understand and respect the rivalry that goes on, but when it’s all about football, you don’t really get as lost in that as much, and that’s nice for me.”