Rebels upset Bulldogs to win Egg Bowl

STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 23: A.J. Brown #1 of the Mississippi Rebels catches a pass as J.T. Gray #12 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs defends during the first half of an NCAA football game at Davis Wade Stadium on November 23, 2017 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)

STARKVILLE, Miss-Jordan Ta’amu threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns, Jordan Wilkins ran for two scores and Mississippi upset No. 16 Mississippi State 31-28 on Thursday night.

Ole Miss (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) held off a late Mississippi State rally to win the Egg Bowl for the fourth time in six seasons. The Rebels had a 10-6 lead at halftime and broke it open in the second half with touchdown passes of 77 yards to A.J. Brown and 63 yards to D.K. Metcalf.

Brown, the SEC’s leader in yards receiving, had six catches for 167 yards. Wilkins had 110 yards rushing.

Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4) was a two-touchdown favorite, but had to play most of the game without starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. He was carted off the field in the first quarter with a right leg injury.

Fitzgerald came into the game with 968 yards rushing this season, which was the most for a quarterback in the SEC. Without him, the Bulldogs turned to freshman Keytaon Thompson, but the offense wasn’t nearly as effective until the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs trailed 31-13 with 8:23 remaining, but scored two touchdowns to pull to 31-28 with 1:05 left. Ole Miss recovered an onside kick to seal the victory.

Mississippi State hurt itself with five turnovers _ two interceptions and three fumbles.

The game took a rough turn later in the first quarter when Fitzgerald took a snap and ran to the left before being tackled to the ground. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior immediately grabbed at his right eg, which was bent at an awkward angle. He was down for several minutes before being carted off the field.

Ole Miss’ season is over. The Rebels aren’t eligible for the postseason because of a self-imposed bowl ban related to its NCAA infractions case.

Mississippi State prepares for its eighth straight trip to a bowl game.