The Egg Bowl is "the biggest game of the year."
"I have always had an awesome respect for playing Mississippi State, even when I was at Arkansas. I know how tough a game that is, even though we always had a really good record against them," said Houston. "The first year we were at Ole Miss, we played them here and did well.
"The second year, we were going to a good bowl and were playing them in Starkville. That's when I got a real understanding of the rivalry - I know I did. That was my first time in Starkville with an Ole Miss shirt on and it opened my eyes."
MSU won that game, handily, and it left an impression on the Rebel boss.
"It's huge. It's the biggest game of the year. Robert Khayat tried to explain it to me when I first got here," he continued. "After beating them the first year pretty easily, I really didn't understand it because that was the way we had won when I was at Arkansas.
"Now, after last year, when Mississippi State had nowhere to go at the end of the year, but they came out against us and played as hard as anyone we played all year, it really woke me up. It's a huge game and I have a real appreciation for that now. Arkansas really didn't have an in-state rivalry game so MSU is my first taste of that. Believe me, I understand it now."
Nutt has been reminded of that often since the Bulldogs captured the Golden Egg Trophy last year.
"Anywhere I go in the state, they don't talk about beating LSU or Arkansas last year, fans talk about 'hey, what about State, now.' Coach (Dan) Mullen and his staff have done an excellent job this year. They have played good football and are bowl eligible," Nutt continued. "It's the reverse now from last year. In this game, it's the old cliche' - throw out the records. It's so true in any rival game. Lots of passion, lots of energy. It's a huge, huge game."
Last year at the end of the game, Mullen got on the PA system in their stadium and said there's one program in the state on the rise. Nutt's thoughts?
"I didn't hear it, but I was told about it. He was feeling good that day and trying to build up his program, but I promise you we feel good about our program as well," Houston said. "This year has not been what we wanted - it's been difficult, but even after all that was said, we did well in recruiting in the state and we'll do the same thing this year.
"I feel real good about where our program is going, I feel real good about the relationships we have with recruits in talking with their Moms and the young men we have committed. They see the road map we have laid out. A lot of good things are going to happen here in the future. He was trying to get his program going, I understand that, but I'm not worried about what was said. I'm just worried about Ole Miss."
This year, Nutt said there has been a lot more mention of Mississippi State than his first two seasons at Ole Miss.
"From the moment that horn sounded last year, there has been a mention of this upcoming game at least once a week, if not twice, and throughout the summer. Our players are well aware of this ball game. We have talked about it for a long time," he stated.
The Rebels did not stop MSU QB Chris Relf last year. His thoughts on the Bulldog signal-caller?
"He's a big, tall, strong guy who has gotten better throwing the ball, but I think their offensive line has gotten so much better and he has RBs who run hard and good receivers. When you can run and throw, like our guy, it's hard to defend. We will have to execute on defense and make sure you are stopping the run," he noted. "I also feel we will have better preparation for him. We didn't see that much of him last year on film, but he's been the quarterback the entire time this year.
"We'll do a lot of good-against-good this week because we want our defense to get a feel for the speed of the game and what they try to do."
Nutt and his crew are putting the LSU loss behind them quickly because, as he said, this is the game of the year coming up, but he said it's all relative.
"We played with a lot of passion and energy yesterday, but we have too many mistakes. What we need to do against MSU is to play with the same passion and energy and eliminate a few more mistakes. It's simple - the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins most of these games and that will be our goal this week," he closed.
Note: Sophomore TB Rodney Scott left the team Thursday. Nutt said he will meet with Rodney and his father after the season to determine if there is a future for Rodney as a Rebel.