Ole Miss (4-7) will travel to Mississippi State (5-6) this week for the annual grudge match between the Bulldogs and Rebels. In the Rebels' last trip to Starkville, Luke was able to secure a victory over Mississippi State. That win helped Luke remove the interim coaching title and assume the job as the Ole Miss head football coach.
The Rebels have not played in a bowl game since 2015, but have an outside shot at making a post season appearance this season if the cards fall just right. A win on Thursday in Starkville, keeps the long shot alive.
Mississippi State's path to the post season is much clearer. If the Bulldogs win and retain the Golden Egg, then Mississippi State will reach a bowl game for the tenth straight season. Ole Miss hopes to spoil the party and ruin the Bulldog Thanksgiving.
Luke met with the media on Monday to share his thoughts about the match-up and what the Battle for the Golden Egg means to him.
On rivalry week: Excited about Egg Bowl week. This is a big game for us and for our program. It's national TV, so quite frankly it's a showcase game for the entire state of Mississippi. So we're excited about the opportunity. It's a huge game for a bunch of different reasons. I am always excited for the Egg Bowl.
On the motivation piece after last year's blow out: I think this game stands alone and you can't worry about what happened last year. There are two brand new teams with a different set of circumstances. I don't think you need any extra motivation when it comes to this game. It's very important on its own.
On the Mississippi State suspensions: We have the luxury of having every game that they've played, so they've all played at one time or another. So you're prepared and ready to go no matter what happens. Obviously, they're going to play all their guys and we'll play all of our guys. I think we'll be ready for whatever combination is out there.
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On the Mississippi State defense: I think they're very athletic. They do a good job of movement and creating negative plays in the backfield. They have a very good pressure system. Coach (Bob) Shoop does a good job with that. I think their movement and ability to blitz and get into the backfield to create negative plays is what you see when you turn the tape on.
I think they have several young defensive linemen that show up and do a really, really good job there. They're long at corner and go a good job at press man. As I alluded to earlier, they do a good job with their pressures. They bring pressure and create negative plays. That will be a big key for us to staying on schedule and not letting the pressure cause turnovers. They've been able to do some of that as well.
On controlling the emotions of the rivalry: This is a very emotional and passionate game and it should be as all rivalry games should be. There are two passionate fan bases. It's a great college football game, but at the end of the day you still have to go out there and play football. You have to go play football between the whistles and take care of your business and play really, really hard. All of the other stuff is not going to effect the outcome of the game.
On his personal feelings about the rivalry: I think you want to be real. You don't want to be fake. It is an emotional and a passionate game. I was born and raised in the state of Mississippi. When the game comes on Thursday night on national TV, you want the whole state of Mississippi to be shed in a good light. I think a good football game between two good teams and two passionate fan bases out there playing hard that's the way it should be.
On the Mississippi State offense: It's obvious that it's Kylin Hill. He is the leading rusher in the Southeastern Conference. He is a very, very good player. He does a great job making people miss and breaking tackles, yards after contact. All of those things he is very, very good at. Both quarterbacks can run the football. When you add that dimension, you have to account for all 11 guys all of the time and then the play actions off of it.
On the Mississippi State QBs: We have to be prepared for both. They went with (Tommy) Stevens up until the last five minutes, so you assume he'll be the starter. (Garrett) Shrader has gone a good job with his legs and running the football and him being competitive and diving for extra yards and doing all of those things. They are both pretty similar. They try to hurt people on the ground and have some play actions off of it. You prepare for both, but they are pretty similar.
Coach Rich Rodriguez on the rivalry: Certainly the intensity in any rivalry game is going to be amped up. As a coach, you don't have to worry about getting your guys jacked up to play in a game like this. You don't want to do anything to hurt your team either that's not football related. I think that's the biggest thing. You always have a controlled aggression.
Coach Mike MacIntyre on the State offense: They're a very physical team. Their running backs are big and they run them well. I have been very impressed with that. Kylin Hill is an excellent running back. He's quick and powerful. He reminds me a little of 22 from LSU (Clyde Edwards-Helaire) except his a little bit taller. He has that type of quickness and you see him make people miss. Their offensive line is huge. There are some big, big guys up there and they do a good job. Their receivers (Stephen Guidry, Deddrick Thomas and Osirus Mitchell) have been able to make plays. 5 and 1 are extremely tall and athletic, so I have been extremely impressed with them.