They call it the Egg Bowl, but the annual Mississippi State-Ole Miss football game has nothing to do with the state’s agricultural prowess. According to USDA data, Iowa is actually the largest producer of eggs in the United States (15%), followed by Ohio and Indiana (both 9%). Mississippi isn’t even mentioned in this “Egg-STAT-ic” post from 2021.
So what’s the deal with the title? Well, that’s what happens when fans need something flashy to distract them from thoughts of malice and a headline writer decides to take matters into his own hands.
Let’s start with the award and the original title. Although the rivalry dates back to 1901—State won the first game, Ole Miss the second—the post-game award wasn’t handed out until 1927. The reason for the change was practical: the officials needed something to catch the spectators’ attention once the game was over. game over. A year ago, a massive brawl broke out among the fan bases. So both students, in an effort to “foster clean sportsmanship”, commissioned the trophy as the “Golden Egg”. It was golden, shiny, and beautiful… Because it was more fuzzy than a common soccer ball and lacked any raised edges to mimic soccer ball stitching, it looked exactly like a golden egg.
Fast-forward to a half-century and the game-day edition of The Clarion-Ledger in 1978. Executive editor Tom Patterson—perhaps tired of an unnecessary title, perhaps bent on a certain style of pun—wrote the headline, “Egg bowl ready to scramble.” And the Egg Bowl evolved from shorthand into a kind of unofficial official nickname that both schools use interchangeably with The Battle for the Golden Egg.
But that’s all backstory. They could call it the battle for hazy soybeans (the state’s largest agricultural export) and it would still be convincing. Although Alabama-Auburn, Michigan-Ohio, and Florida-Florida State may have greater national relevance in terms of their influence on the national championship race, no rivalry game of the week produces more drama than Mississippi State-Ole Miss. He told ESPN’s Mark Schlapach that the rivalry “makes the Ohio State-Michigan and Auburn-Alabama look like Sunday School.”) The first time they played, there was a one-hour delay because Ole Miss accused State of playing with non-students.
There were a lot of fights and more pettiness in common between the two schools. When Dan Mullen was still the head coach of the Bulldogs, he refused to call the Rebs by their name. Instead, he simply refers to “The School Up North” in interviews. Indoor game schedules benefited from the slightly different TSUN of Ole Miss.
The two current coaches are actually very friendly these days, but the two programs can’t help but feud. They can’t even agree on basic facts. Although both cite Ole Miss as the series leader with a record of 64-48-6, Mississippi State says the game has been played on Thanksgiving 27 times and Ole Miss puts the number at 30.
Whatever scorebook you subscribe to, the rivalry will be played for the 119th time this Thanksgiving (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). To get you prepared, here are some of the most interesting games in Egg Bowl history.
1983: The Immaculate Deviation
Sometimes aliases are misleading. The “pure aberration” wasn’t really an aberration at all – unless you believe in cosmic events. Mississippi State, giving up a 17-0 lead and trailing 24-23 with 24 seconds left to play, had a game-winning field goal within reach. Artie Crosby attempted the kick from 27 yards and it seemed to go well – good height, good line, all good. State fans began to celebrate. But then the ball stopped at its peak. It was as if Mother Nature had struck it herself, a strong wind gusting sending the ball to the far left of the goal.
Mississippi State coach Emory Bellard marveled, “I’d never seen a kick back in my years of coaching. It was like something reached in and stopped the ball on the fly.”
1999: Pick and Kick
This game may be the best in the history of the competition. It was one of those rare occasions when both schools were ranked: Ole Miss 23rd, Mississippi State 18th. The Rebs jumped out to a 20-6 lead, but the Bulldogs fought back to tie the game with only 27 seconds remaining.
Instead of playing overtime on the road, Ole Miss channeled Romaro Miller down the field. Except Robert Bean deflected the pass and kicked it in the air. Eugene Clinton intercepted it around the 50-yard line and ran the ball back to the 27 with 8 seconds left. Then Scott Westerfield connected on the 44-yard field goal. Once Ole Miss went out of bounds on the kickoff return, fans rushed the field.
2013: Duck announces his arrival
Legends are made in rivalry games. Before Dak Prescott led Mississippi State to a #1 ranking in 2014 and before he set school records on his way to becoming a fourth-round draft pick a year later, he was a sophomore in his first season as a starter, dealing with an arm injury that took him out of two games before the Egg Bowl. And in the first three quarters against Ole Miss, he stood on the sidelines.
But, with the Bulldogs trailing with a field goal with 11 minutes left in the game, Prescott convinced Mullen to let him into the game. After being shaken off Rust on their first drive, the offense drove 59 yards in 13 plays to secure a game-tying field goal. Then, in overtime, he ran for the winning run.
2019: Costly dog pee penalty
Mississippi State ran away with a 21-20 win after penalizing Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore for celebrating a touchdown by pretending to pee like a dog and the Rebels missed the ensuing extra point.
First, there needs to be context around the Egg Bowl to finish all of the Egg Bowl dishes. Because if you thought the 2019 game was the first time an Ole Miss player pretended to pee on a Mississippi State field, you’d be wrong. Two years ago, after a pregame scrimmage, DK Metcalf scored a touchdown late in the third quarter, raised his leg to mimic a dog peeing and incurred a 15-yard penalty.
And just to make sure the fire continues to burn ahead of the trip back to Starkville, let’s not forget the potential AJ Brown touchdown at the end of Oxford’s third quarter blast and the push and push that turned into a scrimmage to clear the bench. To get past the lack of civility, the referees assessed a penalty kick to each player on both teams.
Well, now it’s 2019. There have been wild plays and wild finishes throughout Egg Bowl history, but no game has produced more fireworks than the one in 2019. After playing to a tie in the first half, the Bulldogs took the lead on a Garrett Shrader touchdown run 5 yards in the third quarter. And it looked as if Ole Miss went twice and threw an interception in the fourth quarter. But then, with two minutes left in the game, Matt Corral, who had come in relief for rookie John Reese Plumlee, drove Rippes 80 yards in 11 plays. At their own 2-yard line with only 4 seconds left, Corral found Elijah Moore in the end zone for what appeared to be the tying score. Except Moore repeated Metcalf’s antics, he raised his leg directly in front of the referee and his unsportsmanlike behavior was reported. The descent continued, but you can guess what happened next. After blocking the 15-yard penalty, Luke Logan missed the point on the try and the state won.
In a game where both coaches were on the hot bench, neither of them survived. Ole Miss Matt fired Luke days later and replaced him with the headlining Lane Kiffin. Not to be outdone, Mississippi State fired Joe Morehead and got a big name of their own in Mike Leach.
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