It's been a long time since D.T. Shackelford has played in an Egg Bowl. Through two seasons of injury, the last time was in 2010.

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But one thing the fifth-year senior has no doubt about heading into Thursday night's game in Starkville. The Rebels and Bulldogs will be ready.

"Both teams will be very fired up for this next game," Shackelford said only minutes after the Rebels lost 24-10 to Missouri in Oxford Saturday night.

Not only does he know Mississippi State will be ready, he's heard it, too.

"I know they're going to play hard," said the Decatur, Ala., native. "The coaches reminded us of that in the locker room (after the Missouri game). We know it being a big rivalry, they're going to play their guts out. It's a bowl game on the line for them. They have nothing to lose and we know they're going to play hard."

Indeed the Bulldogs, with a win against Arkansas Saturday, put themselves in position to go to a bowl game. They are 5-6 and must beat Ole Miss to compete in the postseason.

Last season it was Ole Miss that was 5-6 and needing a win to go to a bowl game. The Rebels defeated MSU 41-24 in Oxford.

D.T. Shackelford
Chuck Rounsaville

Shackelford said the Rebels, 7-4 this season and already assured of a bowl game, know preparation time is short for MSU. He said he believes he and his teammates will bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Tigers.

"It's difficult, but then again it's football," he said. "The amount of weight that's on this game will override that. A lot of guys on this team being from Mississippi, it shouldn't be that hard (to bounce back) for this game. We know what's on the line. They know what's on the line also."

Even though Shackelford hails from out of state, he said he understands and embraces the Mississippi rivalry.

"It means a lot. Although I'm from Alabama, I still have inherited that same passion as guys from Mississippi," the linebacker/defensive end said. "I embrace what they feel as far as being raised in this state and knowing what it means. It's very important. We look forward to playing 60 minutes, because we know their team is going to play very hard."

Shackelford has been impressed with the youngest group of Rebels, the newcomers to the program. He knows a big part of the reason the Rebels have had success this year is because of them. He expects them to step up again this week in preparation for the Battle for the Golden Egg.

"I think we've got a great group of young guys, even true freshmen that have really stepped up to the plate and really answered the bell," he said. "I think they'll be ready to play."

Shackelford knows due to some injuries that MSU might play any one of three quarterbacks. Veterans Dak Prescott and Tyler Russell, and even true freshman Damian Williams, have seen action and could again Thursday night.

But Shackelford said no matter who lines up at quarterback, the Rebels have to be ready.

"Overall it's still football. You've got to play disciplined ball," he said. "We know we're going to have to play that in this upcoming game. They have great players. We have to make sure we're ready on every snap."

Shackelford said throughout the season, while preparing for each opponent, he's kept an eye on Mississippi State. He said he knows the Bulldogs are a formidable foe for the Rebels again this time around.

"State is a good team. They're a very good team," he said. "I've watched them over the course of the year. I know this game is going to be magnified ten times by whatever they've put on the field this year. Thursday night, Thanksgiving game, they're going to play very hard."

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