|Oddsmakers Establish Ole’ Miss as a 14-Point Favorite Over Mississippi State|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Thursday, 27 November 2008 23:30|
Rebels Host Bulldogs
Oxford, MS - Ranked for the first time since 2003, Mississippi is trying to send out its seniors - who have endured some lean years - on a high note in their final home game.
The No. 25 Rebels close their most successful season in the last five years Friday when they host rival Mississippi State in the 105th meeting between the schools.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Mississippi -14 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Thursday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Mississippi –14 (View College Football bet percentages).
Mississippi (7-4, 4-3 SEC) cracked the Top 25 this week for the first time since the final poll of 2003 when it was ranked 13th. It's a stark contrast from last year, when the Rebels went winless in SEC play and were 3-9 overall.
After going 10-3 in 2003 when Eli Manning led the SEC West champs to a 31-28 win over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl, the Rebels went 14-32 over the next four seasons, including 6-26 in conference play.
"I'm loving it. It feels great," senior receiver Mike Wallace said. "It's been a long time coming and there's been a lot of folks working really hard for this. I feel like we deserve it."
Under coach Houston Nutt, who took over for the fired Ed Orgeron last November, Mississippi is headed to its first bowl game since 2003, with the only question being whether the Rebels are headed back to the Cotton Bowl.
"It's what we've been working for all year," quarterback Jevan Snead said. "We can't get ahead of ourselves. We have a really big game this weekend and that's what we have to focus on."
Mississippi has put itself in good position to do so, winning four straight, including a 31-13 win over then-No. 18 LSU last Saturday. After a 23-21 victory over Arkansas to begin this winning streak, the Rebels have outscored their last three opponents 107-20.
On Saturday, Snead was 16-of-25 for 274 yards and two touchdowns, while Markeith Summers and Brandon Bolden each rushed for a score. Mississippi held the Tigers to 215 offensive yards - 61 rushing - while it finished with 409 total yards.
Snead, who sat out last season after transferring from Texas, ranks third in the SEC in passing yards (2,257). He has thrown 19 touchdowns - second-most in the conference - and 11 interceptions - none in the last three games.
"Jevan played his best game by far," Nutt said. "We're not afraid to give him the things we're giving him because he's putting the ball where we can get it and no one else can."
Nutt and the Rebels will look to reclaim the "Golden Egg" - the trophy awarded to the winner of this annual series which Mississippi leads 59-39-6. The home team has won eight of the last nine meetings, with Mississippi State winning 17-14 last season.
"This will be the most competitive game of the year, forget about the records," Nutt said. "Our players have got to understand ... that this by far is the biggest game of their career."
Mississippi State (4-7, 2-5) has struggled this season, but avoided a third straight loss with a 31-28 win over Arkansas last Saturday.
Tyson Lee was 23-of-40 for 219 yards and two touchdowns, while Anthony Dixon rushed for 179 yards, helping the Bulldogs rally from a two-touchdown deficit in the first quarter.
Dixon gave the Bulldogs the lead for good with a 9-yard TD pass to Tyson Lee with 11:15 remaining.
"I was not concerned because I knew we were capable of finishing a ballgame," coach Sylvester Croom said. "I was concerned that we were going to get down early because we did not have a lot of energy. The season has probably worn on us, but we got a spark and the offense came around and everybody started to play well."
The Bulldogs have lost three of four games against ranked opponents this season, with their only win coming against then-No. 13 Vanderbilt on Oct. 11.
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Posted: 11/25/08 3:13PM ET