This season, following each game the 4-2-5 report will give an in depth look at the game, laying out the 4 best plays, the 2 players of the game and 5 interesting stats.
Lane Kiffin already made history in 2021 when he led the Rebs to 10 regular season wins for the first time in school history. In 2023, he has done it again as Ole Miss holds off a motivated Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl to finish 10-2 for the second time in three seasons.
Perhaps not having a looming cloud of whether Kiffin is leaving for another job or not actually helps when it comes to a game like this. Ole Miss avoided a repeat disaster ending to the season, capping off a season in which its only losses came to top 8 CFP teams.
Oh, the win also keeps Mississippi State from a bowl game (unless they get that 5-7 pity invite)... so this win was even sweeter.
4 Plays of the Game
Obviously one of the biggest plays of the game. Third and two in plus territory is the perfect time for Kiffin to just run the ball with Dart or Judkins, knowing he is going for it on fourth down if he does not get it. Mississippi State thought so too. Caden Prieskorn in basketball terms, slipped the screen and was wide open, essentially putting the game away for the Rebs.
Nothing special about the play itself. It won’t wow you, but after Mississippi State took the lead, Ole Miss answered with a Quinshon Judkins touchdown because, who else would it be?
Speaking of Judkins, this actually was an impressive run. I recall watching him meet the two linebackers three yards into the run and looking down for just a second, only to return my eyes to a first down. He’s the best running back in the country and this is one of the reasons why. Plus this run put him over 1,000 yards for the second straight season. A feat only two other times and not since BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2006 and 2007.
Despite the win, there really were not a whole lot of “wow” plays in this one. So enter Judkins, again. It was either this run or the late game stiff arm that completely flattened a Bulldog, but this one takes the cake. He breaks at least 4 tackles and completely demoralizes the opponent for a long gain on 1st and 15.
2 Players of the Game
It should go without saying the Rebels would be a different team the last two seasons without its superstar running back. It’s fantastic news he is not draft eligible so we all get one more season to watch him dominate and break every rushing record in school history. He finished with 28 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown.
There was not as obvious of a candidate for this one, but the pure grit of Dart wins him the honor. 96 yards passing in a Kiffin offense and a win is a wild stat, but he made the plays when they were needed. If Dart returns for his senior season, watch out SEC.
5 Interesting Stats
15 - Many of you likely saw it on ESPN, but Judkins is the first player since Herschel Walker (1980-81) to score 15+ touchdowns in his first two seasons in the SEC. Pretty good company imo. Daijahn Anthony was in on a total of 15 tackles in the contest as well.
2- Judkins now has 2 one-thousand yard rushing seasons in just two seasons played. Kiffin now has 2 ten-win seasons at Ole Miss, a feat only previously conquered by John Vaught. Judkins is also now tied with Brandon Bolden for 2nd most all-purpose touchdowns with 33.
4 - Judkins is now 4th all time in rushing yards at Ole Miss, passing Brandon Bolden. He is 441 yards behind Deuce McAllister for most all time.
100 - This is the first time in the Lane Kiffin era that the Rebs finished under 100 yards passing. It last happened in 2019 in which it happened 3 times for a 1-2 record.
1 - One more note about Judkins. He LEADS the NCAA in career yards per game. This is the kind of stat that will set up Judkins for a monster junior year with a ton of eyes on him and potentially making him a Heisman candidate if he continues to pile up numbers.