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Mississippi State Battle

Starkville, MS – A decisive victory over Mississippi State exactly one year ago put Mississippi in line for a Cotton Bowl appearance.

After pulling an upset last week, the Rebels have a similar opportunity to secure a berth in a high-profile bowl.

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Another Egg Bowl victory against the Bulldogs would secure second place in the SEC West Division for the 20th-ranked Rebels, who look to remain undefeated in November under coach Houston Nutt on Saturday.

Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made Ole Miss -7 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on Ole Miss -7 (View College Football bet percentages).

Mississippi (8-3, 4-3) beat then-No. 10 LSU 25-23 last Saturday to give it the inside track on second place in the West, which would help it attain a better bowl spot. The game came down to the final play, with the Tigers unable to get the snap off at the Rebels' 5-yard line as time expired.

If the Rebels can improve to 8-0 in November under Nutt, they will likely be headed to the Capital One Bowl as the conference's No. 3 team.

In the most recent matchup with Mississippi State (4-7, 2-5), Jevan Snead threw four touchdown passes and Mississippi set a school record with 11 sacks to win 45-0 last Nov. 28. Ole Miss clinched second place in the West and went on to beat Texas Tech 47-34 in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2.

Though the Bulldogs have lost two straight and are out of bowl contention, Nutt told his team not to lose its focus at Scott Field. The Rebels lead the series 60-39-6, but have lost two straight and four of the last five road matchups.

"I know what kind of environment we're going to have," Nutt said.

Nutt has done an outstanding job of keeping Ole Miss motivated following a 16-10 upset by South Carolina on Sept. 24. After being ranked No. 4 early in the season, the Rebels were out of the Top 25 for three weeks until moving back in Sunday.

"What was difficult is when that bubble burst in Columbia," Nutt said. "We knew that was going to be a Dr. Phil job. It is different when they leave these walls. What they hear in class or on the streets is that it is a wasted year. It is easy to let go of the rope and give up. We didn't."

Ole Miss was expected to challenge for the SEC title, but lost two of its first five games. The Rebels have since won three straight and five of six.

Ole Miss is led by its rushing offense, which ranks second in the conference with 219.5 yards per game and features Dexter McCluster. The senior has 903 yards and six scores on the ground and also has 34 receptions for 412 yards and two TDs.

Against LSU, McCluster ran for 148 yards and completed the first pass of his career for a 27-yard score to give the Rebels a 22-17 lead 29 seconds into the final quarter.

"Dexter makes everyone better, and our linemen don't have to hold their blocks as long," Nutt said.

Mississippi State running back Anthony Dixon has been one of the team's few bright spots this season. He rushed for 176 yards in a 42-21 defeat to Arkansas last Saturday.

Dixon is second in the conference in rushing with 1,258 yards and 11 TDs. In what will be his last game, the senior needs 126 yards to surpass the team single-season record of 1,383, set by James Johnson in 1998.

Mississippi State, though, has gotten terrible performances from its quarterbacks this season. Tyson Lee and Chris Relf combined to throw for 49 yards and were sacked four times against the Razorbacks.

The Bulldogs are averaging 148.8 passing yards with seven TDs and 16 interceptions on the season. That has been tough for Mississippi State to overcome, particularly with its defense struggling. The Bulldogs gave up an average of 31.5 points over their last four games.

Bet College Football Week 13

Posted: 11/24/09 7:40PM ET

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