November 19, 2012 11:08:29 AM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen never misses an opportunity to tweak the school he refuses to name - especially during the week he's scheduled to play the in-state rival.
Mullen can become the first MSU coach since Allyn McKeen from 1939-42 to win four straight games against the University of Mississippi when the two teams meet Saturday (6 p.m., ESPNU) for the annual Egg Bowl
Mullen has not become ignorant to the fact that in certain parts of the Magnolia State, large groups of fans would like for him to suffer his first setback in the rivalry after handily taking his first three attempts at the game he calls "the most important of our season".
"I'll be honest with you, I think since the day I've got here they've wanted to get a win against me," Mullen said when asked about Ole Miss. "We're going to be expecting it to be a loud, hostile environment just like wherever you go in this league. Probably more so because the fact that it is a big rivalry game."
Mullen still refuses to referring to Rebels (5-6, 2-5 in Southeastern Conference) by their name and has become famous for his "the school up north" nickname.
"That school to the north of us, being a conference game, becomes such a bigger game," Mullen said at the 2012 SEC football media days. "Not to downplay the other games, but the overall impact, the conference one ends up being a little bit bigger."
Senior cornerback Johnthan Banks guaranteed victory against the Rebels on July 18 during his session at the 2012 Southeastern Conference football media day in Hoover, Ala.
"We're going to win the Egg Bowl for the fourth year in a row," Banks told the media at the Wynfrey Hotel.
Despite the inability to break through about the top teams in the Western Division, Mullen has put an emphasis on the Egg Bowl game since the day he arrived on the Starkville campus.
"It's just something that Coach Mullen made sure was the number one priority when he took over here," MSU junior quarterback Tyler Russell said. "We still have the clock in the locker room and we look at it everyday. We're reminded of the importance of that game on our schedule every day we show up at the facility."
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
1. Acclaimed pianist on stage in Columbus Monday night ENTERTAINMENT
2. Adele Elliott: Hidden COLUMNS
5. Being beautiful: Soak it up COLUMNS