Jevan Snead threw for 213 yards and four touchdowns, Greg Hardy had
three of Mississippi's school-record 11 sacks and the 25th-ranked
Rebels beat Mississippi State 45-0 on Friday in the most lopsided Egg
Bowl in 37 years.
OXFORD, Miss. -- Jevan Snead threw for 213 yards and four touchdowns, Greg Hardy had three of Mississippi's school-record 11 sacks and the 25th-ranked Rebels beat Mississippi State 45-0 on Friday in the most lopsided Egg Bowl in 37 years.
The Rebels (8-4, 5-3 Southeastern Conference), spurred by an opportunity to play in a top-tier bowl, scored 2:20 seconds in, led 24-0 after the first quarter and dominated the fading Bulldogs (4-8, 2-6) in every phase. The margin of victory was the largest in the series since Ole Miss beat Mississippi State 48-0 in 1971.
Snead completed his first nine passes for 117 yards and touchdowns of 10 yards to Shay Hodge and 17 yards to Mike Wallace.
Meanwhile, the Ole Miss defense hit Mississippi State's quarterbacks on nine of their first 10 pass attempts, intercepted two of their first five passes and knocked starter Tyson Lee from the game twice with a bruised shoulder and a cut to his face.
The Rebels finally slowed down in the second quarter, but Snead hit a wide-open Wallace sprinting down the right sideline on a 72-yard touchdown for a 31-0 lead with 42 seconds left until halftime. It was their best start in an SEC game since they went up on Alabama by the same score behind Eli Manning in 2003.
Shay Hodge had 76 yards receiving and a touchdown in the first quarter alone and Wallace finished with 105 yards receiving. Dexter McCluster opened the scoring with a 36-yard touchdown run out of the Wild Rebel formation and finished with 68 yards rushing.
It was the fifth straight win at home for Ole Miss, which has won five of the last seven Egg Bowls.
With representatives from the SEC's top three non-BCS bowls -- the Capital One, Peach and Cotton bowls -- in attendance, the Rebels needed to put on a top performance to pull in a top payday. Ole Miss finishes second in the SEC West and with Alabama and Florida both possibly playing in BCS bowls, the Rebels and Georgia figure to be selected next by affiliated bowls.
The Capital One Bowl has first pick and representatives from the Orlando, Fla., game were in attendance. They saw a heck of a game from the Rebels, who have peaked at the end of the season with their fourth straight win under first-year coach Houston Nutt.
The Rebels had 324 yards to the Bulldogs' 42 at halftime and finished with an advantage of 461-37.
The Ole Miss defensive line was dominant. Already second in the nation with 8.36 tackles for loss per game, the Rebels turned it up against an overwhelmed Bulldogs offensive line.
The Rebels finished with a school-record minus-51 rushing yards allowed and 14 tackles for loss. Defensive end Hardy and tackle Peria Jerry led the charge. Jerry had four tackles for loss, including two sacks. Fellow tackle Jerrell Powe finished with 1 1/2 sacks, two tackles for loss and an interception.
Mississippi State crossed midfield just twice, but only once under its own steam after Karlin Brown returned a second-quarter interception into Ole Miss territory. A second foray across midfield was quickly pushed back across the 50 by a personal foul penalty.
Ole Miss held tailback Anthony Dixon to 14 yards a week after he rushed for a career-high 179 yards against Arkansas.
Another poor offensive performance will cast more doubt on the future of coach Sylvester Croom, who signed a contract extension following last year's breakthrough 8-5 performance, but is under pressure to make changes after difficulties on offense and special teams cost the Bulldogs this year.
Photos by Joel McNeece/Calhoun County Journal
Visit our photo gallery for more pictures from the 2008 Egg Bowl