Oct 7, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Zach Arnett looks on during the first quarter of the game against the Western Michigan Broncos at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Ex-Mississippi State coach Zach Arnett joins Ole Miss

Ole Miss is hiring former Mississippi State head coach Zach Arnett as a defensive analyst, multiple outlets reported Wednesday.

Arnett, 37, was named head coach of the Bulldogs in December 2022 following the death of Mike Leach. He was fired on Nov. 13 with two games remaining in the season and a 4-6 record.

Before his promotion, Arnett was the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State for three seasons. He began his coaching career at San Diego State in 2011.

Ole Miss is a rising program in the Southeastern Conference and landed the No. 1 transfer class in 2024, including five-star defensive lineman Walter Nolen from Texas A&M. Lane Kiffin’s team finished 11-2 (6-2 SEC) in 2023 and is 29-10 over the past three seasons.

–Field Level Media

Mississippi State QB Will Rogers (2) passes against Ole Miss during the second half of the Egg Bowl at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss., Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023.

Reports: Washington QB Will Rogers back in transfer portal

Washington quarterback Will Rogers re-entered his name in the transfer portal Friday night after the departure of coach Kalen DeBoer, multiple media outlets reported.

Rogers previously departed Mississippi State and announced his transfer to Washington on Dec. 15. He was expected to be the starting quarterback in 2024 with the eligibility of star Michael Penix Jr. complete.

But the record-setting quarterback at Mississippi State apparently is examining his options after DeBoer left the Huskies to become coach of Alabama.

Rogers was with Washington on Monday during its 34-13 loss to Michigan in the College Football Playoff national title game. He was wearing a Huskies uniform with his name on the back and threw some passes pregame.

Though Rogers re-entered the portal, he still could decide to remain at Washington.

A four-year starter for his home-state Bulldogs, Rogers threw for 1,626 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in eight games in 2023. He missed four games due to an upper-body injury.

Rogers finished with a school-record 12,315 career passing yards at Mississippi State, a total that ranks second all-time in Southeastern Conference history to Georgia’s Aaron Murray (13,166 from 2010-13). Rogers’ total of 94 passing touchdowns ranks fourth in league history.

–Field Level Media

Nov 23, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) reacts during the second half against the Mississippi Rebels at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Mississippi State QB Will Rogers commits to Washington

Former Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers, the second-leading passer in Southeastern Conference history, announced Friday that he is transferring to Washington.

Rogers, who could step in for departed star QB Michael Penix Jr. in 2024 when the Huskies join the Big Ten, told ESPN he is committed to Washington and is making an official visit this weekend.

“I know I have one more crack at it,” Rogers told ESPN. “I know I had to do what I had to do — win as many games as possible. It’s a place I feel like they throw the ball around a lot, as we did my first three years at Mississippi State. That’s something I’ll be excited about coming in.”

A four-year starter for his home-state Bulldogs, Rogers threw for 1,626 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in eight games in 2023.

He missed four games due to an upper-body injury and finished with 12,315 career passing yards at Mississippi State, second all-time in the SEC to Georgia’s Aaron Murray (13,166 from 2010-13). Rogers’ 94 passing touchdowns rank fourth in league history.

Mississippi State finished 5-7 and was not bowl-eligible.

The undefeated Huskies, under head coach Kalen DeBoer and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, are in the College Football Playoff after leading the country with 343.8 passing yards per game.

“Obviously how Coach Grubb runs his offense, it’s one of the tops in the country with how they score points and how quarterback friendly the system is,” Rogers told ESPN. “People started to catch on to them in 2022, that’s when the whole nation took notice. Things didn’t go as planned this year (for me), and I entered the portal. I had hoped that they would reach out.”

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby in the first half during a Bedlam college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023

Mississippi State hires Oklahoma OC Jeff Lebby as new coach

Mississippi State hired well-respected offensive mind Jeff Lebby as its new coach on Sunday.

Lebby has been the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma the past two seasons. He also ran the offense at Ole Miss (2020-21) for two seasons and at UCF (2018-19) for the second of his two seasons.

Lebby, 39, replaces Zach Arnett, who was fired with two games remaining in his first full season as coach. The Bulldogs went 5-7 this season.

“As we continue to invest in excellence at Mississippi State, the future of our football program is incredibly bright with the addition of Jeff Lebby at the helm,” athletic director Zac Selmon said in a news release. “I am confident that Jeff is the perfect leader for the next exciting chapter of Mississippi State football.

“He will bring an exciting brand of football, elite student-athlete development, and a winning culture to Starkville, all while doing so with high integrity. He is a dynamic recruiter who will attract an elite coaching staff and the nation’s top talent. There is no doubt in my mind that Jeff’s leadership, vision, and resilient work ethic will take this program to incredible heights.”

This season, Lebby’s Oklahoma offense ranks third in scoring (43.2 points per game) and fourth in total offense (502.4 yards per game). The Sooners scored 50 or more points on five occasions, including outputs of 73, 69 and 66 points.

“Being the head coach at Mississippi State is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Lebby said in the news release. “My family and I are fired up to engrain ourselves in this community, build relationships with our players, and hit the recruiting trail. This is a special place with special people and a football program with a storied tradition.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to add our dynamic offensive scheme to an NFL powerhouse with a nationally regarded history of elite defensive play.”

Arnett was promoted to head coach after the tragic death of Mike Leach in December 2022.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) drops back in the pocket against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles during the third quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Mississippi State QB Will Rogers expected to transfer

Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers is expected to put his name in the NCAA transfer portal, 247Sports reported Friday.

Rogers threw for 207 yards and ran for a touchdown in Thursday night’s 17-7 loss to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.

Rogers would be a graduate transfer, and he immediately would attract interest. He is the second-leading passer in Southeastern Conference history with 12,315 yards and second with 94 career passing touchdowns.

He started the past four seasons for the Bulldogs.

Rogers threw for 1,626 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in eight games in 2023. He missed four due to an upper-body injury.

With the loss on Thursday, Mississippi State (5-7) is not bowl eligible.

–Field Level Media

Nov 23, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs running back Jeffery Pittman (25) runs the ball as Mississippi Rebels linebacker Khari Coleman (23) makes the tackle during the first half at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Ole Miss ends Mississippi State’s bowl streak

Quinshon Judkins rushed for a touchdown, Jaxson Dart passed for a touchdown and No. 12 Ole Miss shut down Mississippi State’s offense in a 17-7 Egg Bowl victory Thursday night in Starkville, Miss.

The Rebels (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) led just 3-0 at halftime before Judkins, who finished with 119 yards on 28 carries, sparked the offense in the second half.

Will Rogers passed for 207 yards and ran 1 yard for the only touchdown by the Bulldogs (5-7, 1-7), who saw their 13-season streak of bowl appearances come to and end.

On Mississippi State’s first possession of the second half, Rogers completed all four of his passes for 47 yards during a 71-yard drive that ended with his touchdown and a 7-3 lead.

The Rebels responded with Judkins rushing six times for 40 yards, the last 2 of which came on a touchdown that gave Ole Miss a 10-7 lead at the end of the third quarter.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Dart converted a fourth-and-3 from the Mississippi State 41 by throwing a 7-yard completion to Jordan Watkins. Three plays later, Dart threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Caden Prieskorn for a 17-7 lead.

The Bulldogs tried to make it a one-score game, but Kyle Ferrie’s 50-yard field-goal attempt hit the crossbar and fell short with 6:28 remaining.

Both teams punted four times during a scoreless first quarter, and on the second play of the second quarter, the Bulldogs punted for a fifth time.

The Rebels put together the game’s first successful drive on the ensuing possession, moving 66 yards in 13 plays before stalling. Caden Davis kicked a 36-yard field goal to give Ole Miss a 3-0 lead.

On the Bulldogs’ last possession of the first half, they entered Rebels territory for the first time, reaching the 24 before stalling. Ferrie was wide left on a 42-yard field-goal attempt with 15 seconds to go, leaving Ole Miss with a 3-0 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) reacts with  wide receiver Zavion Thomas (1) after a touchdown against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Everything riding on Egg Bowl for Mississippi State

Mississippi State ended each of the past 13 seasons in a bowl game.

The Bulldogs (5-6, 1-6) need to defeat in-state rival Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2) in the Egg Bowl on Thursday night in Starkville, Miss., in order to become eligible for No. 14.

The Rebels have been assured of a bowl game for the last month and a 10th victory this season would only strengthen their postseason resume.

If MSU wins it will be able to hang on to the Golden Egg trophy, which it regained last season with a 24-22 victory in Oxford, Miss.

“(We) need to work to get this trophy back,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said. “We screwed it up last year.”

Both teams are coming off non-conference victories.

Ole Miss, which was routed by No. 1 Georgia 52-17 two weeks ago, started slowly against UL Monroe last week. It led just 7-3 at halftime but rolled to a 35-3 win to finish its home schedule 7-0.

Jaxson Dart threw all three of his touchdown passes during a 21-0 third-quarter blitz that put the Rebels in command.

Players on both teams know how a victory or defeat in the Egg Bowl can significantly alter the perception of their season — regardless of what has preceded the rivalry game.

Dart is from Utah and started his college career at USC, but as he prepares for his second Egg Bowl he understands its significance.

“We have to make sure that we don’t get too high or too low,” Dart said. “People tell you, ‘We don’t care if you don’t win any other games. We just care that you win the Egg Bowl.’ We understand the importance of it.”

A victory could wipe away a lot of disappointment from a turbulent season for the Bulldogs. The university fired first-year head coach Zach Arnett after a 51-10 loss at Texas A&M on Nov. 11.

Interim head coach Greg Knox welcomed back quarterback Will Rogers and running back Jo’Quavious Marks from injury for a 41-20 victory against visiting Southern Miss last Saturday.

That ended a three-game losing streak for MSU, which is tied with Arkansas for last place in the SEC West.

But a second straight win against an in-state rival in five days would make MSU the undisputed champion of the Magnolia State for 2023.

Rogers had missed four games because of a shoulder injury and Marks had missed three games because of a leg injury.

“It’s kind of like you’re starting the season over, essentially,” Rogers said. “It was nice to get the flow of rhythm back in my game a little bit.”

Rogers, who owns virtually every passing record in Bulldogs history, completed 12 of 27 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns, one of which went for 15 yards to Marks, who rushed for 34 additional yards.

Jeffery Pittman led the way with 98 yards and a touchdown as MSU had its second-highest rushing total of the season (238).

“Those are two of our most dynamic players on offense, and our offense runs through them,” linebacker Jett Johnson said. “It was great to have them back.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Auburn, Alabama, USA;  Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Mike Wright (14) carries against the Auburn Tigers during the third quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

After coaching change, Mississippi State faces Southern Miss

Following a 51-10 throttling at the hands of Texas A&M last weekend, the Mississippi State hierarchy decided to relieve head coach Zach Arnett prior to hosting in-state opponent Southern Miss on Saturday.

Arnett, the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator for three seasons, was promoted to interim coach and then head coach following the death of Mike Leach last December.

But after Arnett compiled a 4-6 record — which included a disappointing 1-6 mark in the Southeastern Conference — in his first season as a head coach, athletic director Zac Selmon made the change.

“I have the utmost respect for Zach Arnett and am incredibly appreciative of the effort he put forth in leading our football program,” Selmon said. “However, the progress and on-field results have not been of the standard required for Mississippi State to achieve the level of success we need and expect.”

Senior offensive analyst Greg Knox will serve as Mississippi State’s interim head coach for the rest of the season. But Knox may be without star quarterback Will Rogers (shoulder) for one more week. If that’s the case, backup Mike Wright will likely be behind center against Southern Miss.

After totaling just one win through eight games, the Golden Eagles (3-7) have beaten Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana in consecutive weeks, while improving to 2-5 in Sun Belt Conference play.

In the thrilling 34-31 overtime win over the Ragin’ Cajuns last week, Southern Miss’ Frank Gore Jr. ran for 158 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner from 3 yards out.

Gore (970 yards, nine touchdowns) is the team’s top rusher, while Jakarius Caston (30 receptions, 518 yards, five TDs) is the top wideout.

Billy Wiles (1,845 passing yards and 10 TDs) has been the Golden Eagles’ primary quarterback, but talented freshman Ethan Crawford orchestrated a 10-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game at 28-all with 1:26 left to play.

When asked about who will be under center Saturday, USM head coach Will Hall said: “You’ll have to wait and see.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Zach Arnett reacts after a failed series of down against the Auburn Tigers during the second half at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State fires Zach Arnett

Mississippi State fired head coach Zach Arnett on Monday after only 11 games leading the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs were 1-6 in SEC games and 4-6 overall under Arnett this season. Senior offensive analyst Greg Knox was named interim head coach for the rest of the 2023 season.

“As part of my thorough and continued evaluation, I have determined that a change in leadership is necessary to move our football program forward and position it for the highest level of success,” athletic director Greg Selmon said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for Zach Arnett and am incredibly appreciative of the effort he put forth in leading our football program. However, the progress and on-field results have not been of the standard required for Mississippi State to achieve the level of success we need and expect.

“Zach took on an unprecedented and challenging situation last December. He provided the football program much needed leadership and stability during a tragic time. There is no question that he has made a positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes during his time here. We are grateful for his contributions to Mississippi State and wish him the very best both personally and professionally.”

Mississippi State plays Southern Miss on Saturday before a Thanksgiving night matchup with rival Ole Miss.

Arnett was hired by the previous athletic director following a one-game stint as interim head coach, beating Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl following his promotion from defensive coordinator. Selmon was hired only a few weeks after Arnett was named head coach.

Mississippi State elevated Arnett to head coach following the sudden death of Mike Leach.

Arnett is owed between $4 million and $5 million, according to multiple reports.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Jaylen Henderson (16) run the ball during the second quarter against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M’s Jaylen Henderson uses arm, legs to beat Mississippi State

Transfer quarterback Jaylen Henderson rushed for two scores and fired two more in his first start as Texas A&M rolled to a 51-10 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night in College Station, Texas.

Down three key offensive starters including quarterback Max Johnson, the Aggies (6-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) managed 20 unanswered points following a game-opening kickoff return for a score by Mississippi State (4-6, 1-6).

A Fresno State transfer, Henderson went 11-for-19 for 150 yards. The sophomore rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries.

The Aggies’ Amari Daniels rushed for a TD, and teammates Ainias Smith and Jahdae Walker had scoring receptions. Randy Bond kicked three field goals.

On defense, Shemar Stewart returned a fumble for a TD, while Deuce Harmon, Jacoby Mathews and Tyreek Chappell recorded interceptions as the Aggies became bowl eligible and improved to 5-1 at home.

Mississippi State freshman Chris Parson made his first career start and was 5-for-12 for 36 yards and three interceptions.

Mike Wright relieved and was 5-for-9 for 68 yards.

The Aggies topped Mississippi State 396-237 in total yardage.

The Bulldogs’ Zavion Thomas stunned the huge home crowd by taking the opening kickoff and sprinting 94 yards for the first points.

However, Henderson guided his first series with the Aggies 80 yards to paydirt. The southpaw finished it with a draw for 22 yards at 11:47.

With leading rusher Le’Veon Moss out, Daniels got more reps and took advantage on a short scoring plunge at 2:32 for the Aggies’ first lead.

Following Mathews’ interception on a deflection, Bond’s 33-yard field goal pushed the advantage to 17-7 on the first quarter’s final play.

After Wright replaced Parson, Texas A&M’s defense forced a turnover on downs. Bond then tied his season-high by hammering a kick from 52 yards.

The Bulldogs’ Kyle Ferrie continued the stretch of field goals and ended the Aggies’ 20-point run by drilling a 35-yarder with 6:55 left in the half.

Smith later pulled in a 19-yard TD catch, and Henderson later took it himself on an 11-yard run to end the half’s scoring.

During Jarred Kerr’s sack and forced fumble, defensive lineman Stewart went on a 43-yard scoop-and-score at 11:10 for a 41-10 edge.

With two minutes left in the third, the Aggies went up 48-10 on Henderson’s second TD throw, an 11-yarder to Walker.

Bond’s 45-yarder in the fourth quarter completed the scoring.

–Field Level Media