Over and Out

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Ole Miss made history Saturday. The wrong kind of history.

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With a 31-3 win, Mississippi State beat Ole Miss for the third straight year. The last time such has happened was nearly 70 years ago.

Ole Miss also lost its 10th game of the season, another first in the 119 years of football at Ole Miss. The Rebels finished the season 0-8 in Southeastern Conference games. Ole Miss was winless in league play four years ago, the final season of Ed Orgeron.

Saturday was the final game for Houston Nutt as Ole Miss head coach. His finale was the worst Egg Bowl loss for Ole Miss since 1919, a 33-0 final. The worst Ole Miss loss to Mississippi State was a 65-0 defeat in 1915.

"Well, it's not the way I wanted to go out," Nutt said. "When things go bad, they go bad. Just like I told them (in the locker room) though, there's a lot of good young people, a lot of good young talent. I told them to get ready to make a real investment, a real sacrifice and go to work.

"It's hard for a younger group when they're told your coach is leaving. It's just a real tough situation. It's not an excuse, it's a fact. It's hard. But I wouldn't have done it any other way. I wanted to finish out with them. I wish we could have done better. I wish we could have gone out the right way. I know this: Did a lot of good things the first two years. Taught ‘em how to win then, and I think it'll come back. I think these guys have a lot of good, young talent."

With the win, the Bulldogs (6-6, 2-6 SEC) earned their sixth win and are now bowl eligible. Dan Mullen is 3-13 against the SEC West in his three seasons at Mississippi State, with all three of those wins coming over Ole Miss.

Houston Nutt
Bruce Newman

"The focus on winning this game (again) starts tomorrow," Mullen said. "We don't ever plan on losing this game again. That's what I've preached from day one when I was hired."

"It's a really important game," Nutt said of the in-state rivalry. "It's very important to the state. We won the first one and we haven't won since then. My let-go was not because of this game. You can pile on with that, but that's not true."

In a game players said this week they would like to win for Nutt, who coached four seasons at Ole Miss, the Rebels were methodically beaten.

Nutt led Ole Miss to back-to-back nine-win seasons in his first two seasons in Oxford. Both of those seasons ended with a Cotton Bowl win, though a loss to Mississippi State in 2009 -- which started the three-game skid -- in the final regular-season game prompted the two-year downward turn of Ole Miss football.

"This is the toughest (situation) I've been in," Nutt said. "It's very difficult. It's really hard on my coaches, as well, ‘cause they're unsure of the future. It's the first time we've been in this situation, so it's very, very hard. It's not easy. I just hate it for our fans. But there are a lot of good things coming."

In his final two seasons, Nutt's teams lost twice to Vanderbilt, once to Jacksonville State, once to Kentucky and once to Louisiana Tech. Ole Miss lost to Vanderbilt three times in four years under Nutt. Ole Miss was 4-8 last season and 1-7 in SEC games.

Nutt ends his tenure at Ole Miss having lost 19 of his final 26 games, including 14 straight to SEC foes. His final record was 24-26.

"It's real difficult on my players," Nutt said. "You can imagine an 18, 19-year-old, how hard it is for them. They want to know who's going to be their next coach. It's just hard. I hate it. I hate the way it ended.

"I didn't expect this. If you had asked me did you expect to leave after this game tonight, I'd say no. Again, I understand. I understand the situation. I've had 14 good years. A lot of people can't say that. I've had 14 good years. It's not easy."

Nutt said he'll take some time to evaluate what his next step is. However, he is in no rush to make a decision. Reports surfaced earlier this week that Nutt was the leading candidate to replace Larry Porter -- who has not been fired as of Saturday night -- at Memphis.

"I've had some good times here," Nutt said, "and I wouldn't trade those first two years. I don't like going out like this, but I wouldn't trade those first two years. The highs were as high as they could be. You've got to win every day. I spent a lot of effort trying to do that. I love (Ole Miss). It's a good place. It's difficult. It's a hard job. But it's a very good place, good people. I wish them nothing but the best."

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