By CHRIS BURROWS
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — 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.
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.
Rogers finished 27 of 39 passing for 239 yards, including converting 8 of 16 on third down. The Bulldogs limited Ole Miss to season-lows offensively, 331 total yards, including 74 rushing.
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.
GAME CHANGING SERIES
Trailing 16-7 with 1:55 remaining in the first half, Mississippi State responded with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 19-yard pass from Rogers to Lideatrick Griffin, with 8 seconds remaining.
Rogers was 8 of 10 passing for 66 yards in the drive, converting twice on third-down situations to pull the Bulldogs within 16-14 at halftime, setting up 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for a 24-16 lead that proved decisive.
Mississippi State: This win checked off a lot of boxes, especially for Mike Leach after consecutive losses in a spirited in-state rivalry.
Since 2020, the Bulldogs have won seven games against AP Top-25 opponents, extended a double-digit streak of bowl appearances and consistently rank among the nation’s most productive passing offenses.
Mississippi State tends to fly under the national radar, but in the last two seasons, the Bulldogs are a solid 15-10 overall and 8-8 in the SEC.
Ole Miss: Just over a month ago, the Rebels were 7-0, ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll, mentioned as a dark horse in the CFP conversation and the head coaching status of Lane Kiffin was unquestioned.
The Egg Bowl loss capped a disappointing 1-4 finish. What happened? More importantly, what happens with Lane Kiffin?
The loss for No. 20 Ole Miss jeopardizes a 29-week streak of holding a slot in the AP Poll. The Rebels advanced to No. 7 before losing four of the final five games.
Mississippi State received votes, but would need a considerable bump to pass eight other similar teams to break into the AP Poll.
Mississippi State: Awaiting a bowl bid, marking 13 consecutive bowl appearances.
Ole Miss: Awaiting a bowl bid, marking 40 bowl appearances, the third consecutive under Kiffin.
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