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Hunting Bullies with the Natives: The Ole Miss Perspective on MSU

Red Cup Rebellion joins us today providing an insider's perspective on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. We focused on the differences between the Landsharks and the Bullies. Check out the Red Cup Rebellion on SBN.

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Please welcome Bob from Red Cup Rebellion today. In 2009, I asked for insight in to the Hawkeyes from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa State. In 2010, I asked for perspective on Air Force from a Navy grad. This year, I questioned Ole Miss insiders on the upcoming bulldog opponent.

Bird: Let's start off with the Magnolia State rivalry. Tech fans like to chant "To Hell with Georgia" particularly on Thanksgiving weekend. Are there are any cool traditions Ole Miss fans have revolving around the bulldogs?

Bob @ RCR: I think the best Ole Miss tradition as it relates to Mississippi State is to pretend like you don't actually care about Mississippi State. Some Ole Miss fans indeed do not really take the Egg Bowl seriously, but most do. Still, it really bugs the hell out of Mississippi State fans when Ole Miss fans suggest that we look forward to our annual game against LSU more than we do the Egg Bowl, so naturally Ole Miss fans are wont to do that.

There is some legitimate reasoning behind the "we care more about LSU" line of thinking, and it does go back to the John Vaught days (1947-1970, and again in 1973) when Ole Miss and LSU were routinely battling each other for SEC Championships and spots in the Sugar Bowl. During that period of time, Mississippi State was absolutely abysmal, and Vaught put up an astonishing 19-2-2 record on the Bulldogs. So, for a long period of time, Mississippi State was virtually a guaranteed win for Ole Miss, meaning that the fervor was largely one-sided. Obviously that has changed in the minds of most, but for a few fans such is, somewhat strangely, still the case.

Bird: We've only played the Mississippi schools 8 times total and 3 times were under Paul Johnson so we're not terribly familiar with the nuances of the two teams' fan bases. What is the difference between a bulldog and Ole Miss fan and what should Tech fans expect at the bowl game from the followers of the bulldog?

Bob @ RCR: Ole Miss and Mississippi State fans are simultaneously very alike and very different. We are very alike in that we're mostly from the same social circles. If you are an Ole Miss fan who grew up in Mississippi, you probably have friends, neighbors, and even family that are Mississippi State fans (and vice versa). That simply can't be avoided.

That said, both schools do play to their stereotypes a bit, with Mississippi State fans insisting that they're humble, hard-working, salt-of-the-Earth, yeoman types and Ole Miss fans doing their best to put forth an image of sophistication, learnedness, and gentility. To that end, Ole Miss fans like to consider Mississippi State fans nothing more than rednecks, and Mississippi State fans like to think of Ole Miss fans as greedy, conniving lawyers and politicians. It's the archetypical "liberal arts school versus an agricultural and mechanical school" dichotomy seen in Texas vs. Texas A&M, Michigan vs. Michigan State, UVA vs. VA Tech, and so forth. And I do suppose that there's a scant bit of truth to the stereotypes, but I also do assert that, as individuals, Mississippi State fans and Ole Miss fans don't differ all that much.

Bird: The MSU defense had a fairly solid season and the Ole Miss game is an unusual outlier amongst their stats. I think most people expected them to lose to Alabama but defeat Ole Miss. Can you explain how the Ole Miss offense racked up 205 yards rushing against a D that only allowed 138 ypg in the first 11 games?

Bob @ RCR: Two things: Ole Miss had several big plays, which is not what we've seen out of this offense for much of the year, and the Ole Miss offensive line actually blocked fairly well. The Rebs' weak point for most of the season was the offensive line, but for some reason or another that unit played damn good football in the Egg Bowl, surprising fans on both sides of the rivalry.

If Georgia Tech's offensive line can pull effectively and get solid blocks on the edge, the Jackets could have similar, if not much better success on the ground.

Bird: And then what did Ole Miss do to completely stifle an offense that averaged 38 points per game? MSU didn't lose any fumbles and picked off Bo Wallace giving them a positive turnover margin.

Bob @ RCR: Well Ole Miss' defense is arguably the country's best defense. Outside of an aberration of a game against Arkansas (which had as much to do with the offense and special teams giving the Hogs good field position as it did with defensive lapses) and a shootout against Auburn, the Rebels stifled everybody they played. That really was the defense returning to form as opposed to doing anything out of the ordinary.

What makes the Ole Miss defense so good is its depth on the defensive line and its talent in the secondary. A deep defensive line means that players can rotate in and out to keep fresh and reduce the risk of injury. A talented secondary means good coverage, lots of interceptions, and excellent tackling. That last point can't be overstated; I don't think any Ole Miss secondary has been as physical and explosive as this one. These guys can drop into coverage, stop the run, and blitz effectively. They're fun to watch.

Bird: Lastly, do you have any good MSU fan, Egg Bowl, or related stories that you haven't mentioned that will aid Tech fans in truly understanding the bulldogs?

Bob @ RCR: Any good stories? No, or at least none that involve me personally. Most of my Egg Bowl stories involve me sulking around Starkville after a loss or celebrating in the Grove after an Ole Miss win. But, if it's a glimpse into the Bulldog psyche you're after, check this video out.

It's sometimes hard to tell what they enjoy more: Mississippi State winning or Ole Miss losing. If that video's any indicator, it's the latter. They've mastered Schadenfreude, and they aren't ashamed to show it off.