Mon, 18 Jan 2021

Rebels' Kiffin, Bulldogs' Leach set for first Egg Bowl

Field Level Media
25 Nov 2020, 08:19 GMT+10

Both Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin and Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach will finally get to experience what so many have told them about the entire offseason.

Kiffin and Leach both were hired to lead their respective programs over the offseason, and the first-year coaches will now step into their first Egg Bowl, the annual rivalry tussle between Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

The only difference this year is that instead of on Thanksgiving, it will take place Saturday afternoon at Ole Miss.

Since being hired pre-pandemic, both coaches have heard from their supporters about the significance of the Egg Bowl.

"I've known about it from watching it," said Kiffin, who was hired as head coach at Ole Miss last December. "It used to be on Thanksgiving a lot. With my brother here for a number of years, I knew it was always competitive and a big deal around here."

A month after Kiffin was hired at Ole Miss, Leach was tabbed as the head coach for Mississippi State, and he also has come to understand the intensity of the rivalry from afar.

"Even as I was a kid, I know it was always an incredibly intense game," Leach said. "I know it's very meaningful to people and I know that it's in conversation all year 'round. There's not a day I don't hear somebody mention the Egg Bowl. I know it's a very meaningful game and I also know that there have been plenty of them that have been exciting to watch long before I was even in the state of Mississippi. It's exciting to be a part of it."

After a 44-34 win in the season opener at LSU, Mississippi State lost five of its next six games and enters this weekend 2-5 overall and in SEC play.

The Bulldogs are coming off a close loss at Georgia (31-24), and Leach feels that defeat was another sign his younger team is starting to mature a bit heading into the stretch run of the season.

"We just have to keep working hard," Leach said. "I don't think we've hit our potential yet. I think we are proof that we are young enough to where we are going to change for the positive. That's where the biggest strides come. The younger they are, the more they are developing. We're right there."

On the other side, Ole Miss enters 3-4 and on a two-game winning streak following a 54-21 win over Vanderbilt and a 59-42 win over South Carolina.

The Rebels were slated to play at Texas AM last week, but the game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues.

Kiffin obviously didn't want to see the stoppage last week with the rhythm his team had established in the two games prior, but he hopes the bye week will be an advantage.

"It is what it is," Kiffin said. "Hopefully we used it to get better at some things."

Ole Miss did receive some good news in that Otis Reese, a former safety at Georgia who transferred to Ole Miss in January, was cleared to play by the NCAA and will make his debut with the Rebels against Mississippi State.

--Field Level Media

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