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 the Department of Agriculture, 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 2021 “Egg-STAT-ic” post.
So what’s wrong with a nickname? Well, this is what happens when fans need something shiny to distract them from thoughts of malice, and a tabloid writer decides to take matters into his own hands.
Let’s start with the trophy and the original nickname. Although the rivalry dates back to 1901 — State won the first game, Ole Miss the second — no postgame award was given until 1927. And the reason for the change was practical: the officials needed something to keep the spectators’ attention after the game was over. A year before, a big fight broke out between the fans. So, in an effort to “encourage pure sportsmanship,” the two student bodies commissioned a trophy called the “Golden Egg.” It was golden and shiny and beautiful…and because it was more dull than a normal soccer ball and because it didn’t have the raised edges to mimic the seams of a soccer ball, it looked exactly like a golden egg.
Fast forward half a century, and it’s The Clarion-Ledger on game day in 1978. Executive editor Tom Patterson—perhaps tired of the unnecessarily wordy moniker, perhaps aiming for a certain style of pun—wrote the headline: “The Egg Bowl is ready for a scrimmage.” And The Egg Bowl evolved from shorthand into a kind of official-unofficial nickname that both schools use interchangeably with The Battle for the Golden Egg.
But that’s all backstory. You could call it The Battle of Soft Soybeans (the country’s largest agricultural export) and it would still be convincing. While Alabama-Auburn, Michigan-Ohio State and Florida-Florida State might have more national significance in terms of their impact on the national championship game, no rivalry week game generates more drama than Mississippi State-Ole Miss. (One SEC power broker once told ESPN’s Mark Schlabach that the rivalry “makes Ohio State-Michigan and Auburn-Alabama look like Sunday school.”) When they first played, there was an hour delay because Ole Miss State charged, to play non-students.
There was a lot of bickering between the two schools and more than enough little things. When Dan Mullen was the head coach of the Bulldogs, he refused to call the Rebs by their first names. Instead, he simply referred to “the school in the north” in interviews. The internal game schedules took advantage of TSUN’s slight swap for Ole Miss.
The two current coaches are actually pretty friendly these days, but the program can’t help but bicker. They cannot even agree on basic facts. Although both list Ole Miss as the series leader with a 64-48-6 record, Mississippi State says the game has been played on Thanksgiving Day 27 times, with Ole Miss putting the number at 30.
Whichever record book you subscribe to, the rivalry will be played for 119 times this Thanksgiving (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). To get you ready, here are some of the most interesting plays in Egg Bowl history.
1983: Immaculate Deviation
Sometimes nicknames are misleading. The “immaculate deviation” wasn’t really a deviation at all – unless you believe in cosmic events. Mississippi State, after losing a 17-0 lead and trailing 24-23 with 24 seconds left, hit the game-winning field goal. Artie Crosby attempted a 27-yard field goal and it appeared to be well on its way — good height, good line, good everything. National fans began to celebrate. But then the ball just stopped at the top. As if washed away by Mother Nature herself, a strong gust of wind sent the ball to the far left of the goalposts.
Mississippi State coach Emory Bellard marveled, “In all my years of coaching, I’ve never seen a punt return. It was like something reached down and stopped the ball in flight.”
1999: Pick and Strike
This game may be the best in the history of the rivalry. It was one of those rare occasions when both schools were ranked: Ole Miss at No. 23, Mississippi State at No. 18. The Rebs jumped out to a 20-6 lead, but the Bulldogs battled back to tie the game with just 27 seconds left.
And instead of playing for overtime on the road, Ole Miss took Romaro Miller to the field. Except that Robert Bean deflected the pass and kicked it into the air. Eugene Clinton went underneath and caught an interception around the 50-yard line, throwing the ball back to the 27 with 8 seconds left. Scott Westerfield then hit a 44-yarder and the game-winning field goal. When Ole Miss went off the field on the return, the fans stormed the field.
2013: Dak announces his arrival
Legends are made in competitive games. Before Dak Prescott led Mississippi State to the No. 1 ranking in 2014 and before he set school records en route to becoming a fourth-round draft pick a year later, he was a sophomore in his first season as a starter dealing with a hand injury , which she eliminated from two games before the Egg Bowl. And he sat on the sideline for the first three quarters against Ole Miss.
But with the Bulldogs trailing by a field goal with 11 minutes left, Prescott convinced Mullen to let him play. After knocking off the rust on his first drive, he drove the offense 59 yards in 13 plays to secure the tying field goal. He then ran for the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
2019: expensive penalty for dog peeing
Mississippi State escaped with a 21-20 victory after Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore was penalized for celebrating a touchdown by pretending to urinate like a dog, and the Rebels missed the ensuing extra point.
First, there needs to be context about the egg bowl to end all egg bowls. Because if you thought the 2019 game was the first time an Ole Miss player faked urinating on the Mississippi State field, you’d be wrong. Two years earlier, after a pregame fight, DK Metcalf scored a touchdown late in the third quarter, raised his leg to imitate a dog peeing, and received a 15-yard penalty.
And just to make sure the fire is still burning before the return to Starkville, let’s not forget AJ Brown’s eventual touchdown at the end of the third-quarter blowout in Oxford and the pushing and shoving that turned into a bench brawl. . To highlight the lack of civility, the referees awarded a penalty to every player on both teams.
OK, now to 2019. There have been wild plays and wild finishes in the history of the Egg Bowl, but no game produced more fireworks than the one in 2019. After tying the game in the first half, the Bulldogs took the lead on Garrett Shrader’s touchdown run on 5 yards in the third quarter. And it appeared to be that when Ole Miss punted twice and threw an interception in the fourth quarter. But then, with 2 minutes left, Matt Corral, replacing starter John Rhys Plumlee, drove the Rebs 80 yards in 11 plays. At the 2-yard line, Corral found Elijah Moore in the end zone for what appeared to be the tying game. Except Moore repeated Metcalf’s antics, raised his leg right in front of the referee and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. The touch lasted, but you can guess what happened next. Luke Logan, pushed 15 yards from the penalty spot, missed the try and State won.
In a match in which both coaches were on the hot seat, neither coach survived. Ole Miss fired Matt Luke days later and replaced him with headline-grabbing Lane Kiffin. Not to be outdone, Mississippi State fired Joe Moorhead and got their big name in Mike Leach.