Mississippi-Mississippi St. Preview
''We're good,'' Kelly said. ''And they're good.''
And in the 112 years this rivalry has been played, that's actually pretty rare. When No. 19 Ole Miss (8-3, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) travels to face No. 23 Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3) in Starkville, it will be just the sixth time that both teams are ranked for the in-state rivalry.
''It's exciting, it's humbling and it's something I've been looking forward to,'' Bulldogs star quarterback Dak Prescott said. ''It's a big-time game.''
Coach Hugh Freeze said that's a nice incentive to have in late November, but fighting for the Egg Bowl will be plenty of motivation regardless what happens between the Tide and Tigers. Ole Miss won 31-17 last season in Oxford.
''We'll have to play our best in Starkville Saturday night against a really, really good football team,'' Freeze said.
One of the most intriguing parts of this particular Egg Bowl is it features arguably the league's two best quarterbacks.
Kelly has thrown for a league-high 3,504 yards and 25 touchdowns this season. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior is a huge reason why the Rebels are leading the league in scoring with more than 40 points per game.
Mississippi State isn't far behind, averaging about 35 points per game. Prescott has thrown for 3,159 yards and 23 touchdowns, including a whopping 508 yards and five touchdowns in a 51-50 win against Arkansas last week.
Prescott considered leaving for the NFL in the offseason, though opinions about his professional potential are mixed. He's said a big reason for his return is he wanted to win one more Egg Bowl after the Bulldogs lost to Ole Miss last season.
''It's pure excitement knowing I came back for this reason,'' Prescott said. ''From the time I got here, everything goes into this week. Last year, this year, everything boils down to this.''
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior also leads the team with 478 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. Freeze said Prescott will be a handful to deal with on Saturday.
''They have one of the most tremendous leaders that we've seen in this conference in Dak," Freeze said. ''He's a great player, a great leader, a winner, competes at a high level and gives that offense a chance to be really special at times.''
Kelly said he met Prescott at the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana over the summer and the two have a friendly rivalry and plenty of mutual respect.
''Both of us are on a mission to be great quarterbacks, and I know we're both going to give it our all each and every time we're out there,'' Kelly said. ''We have to stay focused, and it will be a great game.''
Since the teams appear fairly equal, one advantage sticks out: Mississippi State is at home.
The home team has won 10 out of the last 11 in the series. Ole Miss hasn't won in Starkville since 2003, which was Eli Manning's senior season.
This will be the first Egg Bowl for Kelly, who grew up in Buffalo, New York. He said he expects Saturday's atmosphere to be intense and full of Mississippi State's
''I've never really been around a cowbell before or seen a cowbell except on TV watching the games,'' Kelly said. ''I'm just a kid from Buffalo who's never heard a cowbell in Buffalo. I'm anxious to get out there and see the crowd, feel the crowd. It's going to be fun.''