"We know it is a big rivalry game and means a lot to our seniors and all Rebels," said soft-spoken freshman QB Shea Patterson. "All of the young guys on this team understand the importance of this game for a lot of reasons. We've been reminded daily by our coaches and older players. We have been preparing hard for what we know will be a tough game.
"Obviously, this game means so much to so many people that you understand you have to give it your all and then some."
Patterson is excited about the opportunity.
"I didn't expect to play until next year, but I have been preparing all year like a starter. You have to do that because you never know when it might be your turn to play and you will either get rewarded for being prepared or exposed for not being prepared," said Patterson. "I'm just glad I was able to be around a great group of guys helping me along the way and some excellent players around me making plays for me."
Patterson had a storybook debut in College State two weeks ago when he led a come-from-behind victory over Texas A&M, but he felt the reverse of that last Saturday against Vanderbilt in a 38-17 loss. What did he learn from that humbling experience?
"I prepared well, but I think I learned you cannot take anyone in the SEC lightly," he noted. "You have to come out from the jump and play as hard as you can every snap. No exceptions."
Patterson said the Commodores were well-coached and just never seemed to make any mistakes.
"Their defensive schemes really weren't anything we hadn't seen or couldn't adjust to, but they were just very sound and very well-coached," he stated. "In the end, they played better and played with more emotion than we did. They executed and we didn't.
"As for me, I needed to stay in the pocket a little longer and let some things develop more. I needed to make more downfield throws, but scrambling is also part of my game. There are a lot of times I can come out of pocket, extend a play and make something happen, but I have to be more selective," Patterson reflected. "I will learn as I go. It shouldn't be that difficult, but sometimes my instincts to scramble have taken over.
"I will learn to resist being quick to scramble and learn to let things develop."
Now, it's Mississippi State.
Even though the Bulldog defense has been porous this year, Patterson is heeding his own words about not taking anyone lightly.
"I've watched them on film and they have good athletes on that side of the ball. That is what I am looking at," he added. "We have to prepare hard and get ready for a big challenge. I'm sure they would like nothing better than to spoil a bowl possibility for us and take that trophy home with them."
Patterson said there are more motivating factors than "just" winning the Egg Bowl and beating a rival.
"A win would make us bowl eligible and give us 15 extra practices to get some momentum going for the bowl game, for next year and for recruiting," he closed.
Patterson is now 1-1 as a true freshman starter.
2-1 is, obviously, the goal.