Mississippi State

Homefield advantage crucial in Egg Bowl

 Mississippi State's Dak Prescott plays his last game at MSU.
SAMANTHA BAKER/ASSOCIATED PRESS Mississippi State's Dak Prescott plays his last game at MSU. AP

When No. 19 Ole Miss and No. 22 Mississippi State tangle in the annual Egg Bowl on Saturday, the Rebels are slight betting favorites.

The Rebels (8-3, 5-2) and Bulldogs (8-3, 4-3) have proven over the last few years that records don't mean much in this rivalry, though the two teams are even and at the top of their game.

That's what makes this year's game a close call.

But if there is one advantage the Bulldogs have, it's the homefield. Each of the last four years, the home team has won the Egg Bowl.

In Starkville, Ole Miss has a hard time winning since quarterback Eli Manning's departure. MSU has won the last five games at Davis Wade Stadium over a 10-year period.

MSU coach Dan Mullen puts a lot into the homefield advantage.

"I don't know if it's just the Egg Bowl. It might be all of college football, especially here in the SEC," Mullen said. "Homefield advantage is such a big deal. One, you're at home. You have your routine, your fans, your home stadium gets behind you, especially rivalry games. It's such a huge deal. Our fans do such a great job of giving us that homefield advantage. They encourage our team and also make things a little difficult on the visiting team."

Add that 15 seniors will be playing their final game at Davis-Wade Stadium.

"I think it will be pretty special. They're the winningest senior class since that crew in '42," Mullen said. "I think they have done an awful lot. They've changed the perception of our program in two ways. One, how our program is received outside of the program, nationally. Two, also differently within our program, within our fan base. Expectations within our program and what people think we can accomplish have changed."

One last time, Dak

One player sticks out, quarterback Dak Prescott. He will go through his final pregame routines, trot on the field for the opening coin toss, lead his offense up and down the field and walk out of the stadium for the final time.

With 38 school records and his name now cemented near the top of the SEC record book, he's accomplished plenty. Mullen routinely gets emotional when talking about his quarterback and doesn't expect anything less than an emotional evening before, during and after Prescott's final Egg Bowl.

"Records are meant to be broken. So I'm sure someday someone will come and break all of the records he has," Mullen said. "I don't know if there's anyone in Mississippi State history that holds as many records as he holds," Mullen said. "I'm guessing when they announce him for senior night, it'll probably be really loud. I bet he'll get a pretty good ovation. All of our fans will show him their appreciation for all that he's done."

Plenty at stake

It's not like the Rebels won't have something to play for, however. The Rebels will likely know before the game if they have a chance to go to Atlanta for the first time in school history and play for the SEC Championship.

Ole Miss needs an Alabama loss and a win over MSU to make it to the championship.

Both teams could be playing for a trip to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans with a win. Florida losses against Florida State and then in the SEC Championship game would likely put the winner of the Egg Bowl in New Orleans as one of the two could be playing in a New Year's Six bowl for the second year in a row.