November 21, 2012 4:48:45 PM
STARKVILLE -- The University of Mississippi football team is embracing the added desperation of needing to beat Mississippi State University at 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU) in the annual Egg Bowl to become bowl eligible.
A victory also would help Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) snap a three-game losing streak to MSU (8-3, 4-3) and end a skid that includes heartbreaking losses to Texas A&M University, Vanderbilt University, and LSU.
"There's a lot riding on this game for us," Ole Miss first-year coach Hugh Freeze said. "The Egg Bowl is enough, but I sure would like to send these seniors out going to play in a postseason game and our fans to get to experience that. They're a team that deserves to do that."
MSU fourth-year coach Dan Mullen, who can become the first MSU coach since Allyn McKeen from 1939-42 to win four straight games against Ole Miss, doesn't see how the Rebels' chances at becoming bowl eligible will affect the intensity in the rivalry game. Last season, MSU needed to beat Ole Miss in Starkville to become bowl eligible. A 31-3 victory allowed MSU to secure a berth in the Music City Bowl against Wake Forest University.
"I could care less if they were 11-0 or 0-11 coming into this game," Mullen said. "When you get in these games, the record's completely irrelevant. If they were 6-5, I'd be happy for the people of Mississippi, having another football game they'd get to watch this year."
Chick-fil-A Bowl scouting Egg Bowl
Chick-fil-A Bowl representative Rod Hovater will visit Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday for the game. MSU and Ole Miss are being scouted as potential SEC representatives for the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31.
The selections from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the SEC for the 45th annual Chick-fil-A Bowl will be announced Dec. 2. The Chick-fil-A Bowl is the oldest guaranteed ACC vs. SEC matchup.
MSU has made three appearances in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, most recently in 1999, when it defeated Clemson University 17-7.
Several websites, including ESPN and CBS, project MSU will make its second trip in three years to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
Two years ago, MSU defeated the University of Michigan 52-14 in the 2011 Gator Bowl in the school's only trip to the New Year's Day postseason game.
Ole Miss defeated Georgia tech 41-18 in 1971 in its only appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. It will open the 2014 season against Boise State University in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.