Egg on Ole Miss’ face in 31-3 season-ending loss

The final image of a miserable Mississippi season was fitting –

quarterback Barry Brunetti getting leveled by Mississippi State’s

defense as a futile lunge for the end zone fell a few yards


The Rebels fell to the Bulldogs 31-3 for their third straight

loss in the Egg Bowl on Saturday night at Davis Wade Stadium,

ending a season that was historic for all the wrong reasons. Ole

Miss (2-10, 0-8) finished its first 10-loss season in program

history, which also marked the end of Houston Nutt’s four-year

coaching tenure.

Nutt’s resignation was announced on Nov. 7, but he agreed to

coach the remainder of the season. It didn’t end well.

”That was not the way I wanted to go out,” Nutt said. ”We’re

a team that is very fragile and you can’t turn the ball over. When

things go bad, they go bad.”

Mississippi State earned bowl eligibility for the second

straight season and a three-game winning streak in the Egg Bowl for

the first time since 1942.

”I hope the kids in Mississippi understand that this is where

you come to win championships,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen

said. ”When we came here, we made this a priority. And tomorrow

we’ll restart that clock in our locker room that counts down to

this game next year. But I’m going to have to figure out how to

reset it for a leap year.”

Vick Ballard rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.

He also caught two passes for 25 yards and a touchdown. LaDarius

Perkins added a 36-yard touchdown run and a 20-yard touchdown

catch. The 28-point margin of victory was the most for Mississippi

State (6-6, 2-6) in the series since 1919.

Nutt ends with a 24-26 overall record at Ole Miss, including a

10-22 mark in conference games. The Rebels have lost 14 straight

SEC games.

Mullen has injected new life into the rivalry since his arrival

in Starkville, with a smack-talking persona that’s been backed up

with dominant victories. The Bulldogs unveiled new uniforms for

Saturday’s game, with gold numbers, gold shoes and the phrase `Hail

State’ replacing each player’s last name on the back of the


Mississippi State’s first drive went 11 plays and 68 yards,

ending on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Relf to Ballard that gave

the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 5:35 remaining in the first


”They kind of didn’t have (much) to play for,” Ballard said.

”We did.”

Mississippi State stretched its lead to 21-0 by halftime on a

36-yard run by Perkins and then a 20-yard pass from Relf to

Perkins. To seal any doubt, Ballard rushed for a 25-yard touchdown

early in the third quarter to push the lead to 28-0.

Relf didn’t have to throw much, but was effective when he did,

completing 8 of 13 passes for 70 yards, two touchdowns and one


”We didn’t really have the season we wanted to have,” Relf

said. ”But beating Ole Miss, it just gives us confidence that we

can keep it going.”

Ole Miss never could get moving on offense. Its only sustained

drive lasted 12 plays and 47 yards before Bryson Rose kicked a

28-yard field goal in the third quarter. Enrique Davis rushed for

32 yards on 12 carries while Donte Moncrief caught four passes for

20 yards.

Brunetti completed 12 of 22 passes for 112 yards.

The Rebels didn’t exactly rally around their outgoing coach,

losing by lopsided margins to Louisiana Tech, LSU and Mississippi

State since it was announced Nutt would not return.

Nutt was paid about $2.7 million this season to oversee the

collapse. He’s also owed a $6 million buyout.

The search for the Rebels’ fifth coach in 17 seasons now begins

in earnest. Whoever it is will have plenty of work ahead

considering Ole Miss is 1-15 in the SEC – including the 14-game

conference losing streak – over the past two seasons and resides in

arguably the hardest division in college football.


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