Everything riding on Egg Bowl for Mississippi State

Mississippi State ended each of the past 13 seasons in a bowl game.The Bulldogs (5-6, 1-6) need to defeat in-state rival Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2) in the Egg Bowl on Thursday night in Starkville, Miss., in order to become eligible for No. 14.The Rebels have been assured of a bowl game for the last month and a 10th victory this season would only strengthen their postseason resume.If MSU wins it will be able to hang on to the Golden Egg trophy, which it regained last season with a 24-22 victory in Oxford, Miss.”(We) need to work to get this trophy back,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said. “We screwed it up last year.”Both teams are coming off non-conference victories.Ole Miss, which was routed by No. 1 Georgia 52-17 two weeks ago, started slowly against UL Monroe last week. It led just 7-3 at halftime but rolled to a 35-3 win to finish its home schedule 7-0.Jaxson Dart threw all three of his touchdown passes during a 21-0 third-quarter blitz that put the Rebels in command.Players on both teams know how a victory or defeat in the Egg Bowl can significantly alter the perception of their season — regardless of what has preceded the rivalry game.Dart is from Utah and started his college career at USC, but as he prepares for his second Egg Bowl he understands its significance.”We have to make sure that we don’t get too high or too low,” Dart said. “People tell you, ‘We don’t care if you don’t win any other games. We just care that you win the Egg Bowl.’ We understand the importance of it.”A victory could wipe away a lot of disappointment from a turbulent season for the Bulldogs. The university fired first-year head coach Zach Arnett after a 51-10 loss at Texas A&M on Nov. 11.