Hate is a strong word. Yet, it’s a word that you’re going to hear a lot this week. Rivalry week in college football stirs up all the deepest of emotions. On Thanksgiving, nowhere will those emotions be felt more than in the heart of Mississippi for the Egg Bowl.
What is the Egg Bowl?
The Egg Bowl is a college football rivalry between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Ole Miss Rebels. However, to simply term it a rivalry game does a disservice to the pure vitriol that flows through the veins of the two programs. The Egg Bowl is passion, it is pride, but it is also pure and unadulterated hatred for the other institution just 112 miles up or down the US 45 highway.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to ask former Mississippi State wide receiver Osirus Mitchell to describe the rivalry game to me.
“It’s literally a war. The fans are crazy, the players are definitely crazy. They’ll try and hurt you during the play, after the play. It’s just like a fight basically. I’m not even from Mississippi, but I take that rivalry game personally. I think by far it’s the best rivalry in college football as far as the intensity goes.”
Where does the Egg Bowl name come from?
The hatred, the intensity, and the fight that Mitchell referenced actually led to the naming of the annual rivalry game between the two universities. Before the 1927 edition, it was simply known as the rivalry game between Mississippi State and Ole Miss. However, when the intensity of the rivalry led to a brawl between fans that included smashed chairs, it was decided something needed to be done to calm the passions somehow.
The resolution was the creation of a trophy to be given to the winner of the game. A brass football on a wooden plinth earned the name “The Golden Egg” due to its oval nature. Until the 1978 edition, the rivalry game was named “The Battle for the Golden Egg.” However, when both teams were ineligible for a bowl game in 1978, the clash was termed “The Egg Bowl” by The Clarion-Ledger newspaper. The name has stuck ever since.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State rivalry dates back to 1901
While The Golden Egg and The Egg Bowl have had a place in the rivalry since 1927 and 1978, the Ole Miss and Mississippi State rivalry dates all the way back to 1901. The very first Egg Bowl took place between the then-Mississippi A&M Aggies and Ole Miss Red and Blue in Starkville. The Aggies won 17-0 to kick-start an early advantage in the rivalry.
Mississippi State enjoyed a lot of success early in Egg Bowl rivalry lore. They embarked on a winning streak between 1911 and 1925 that included a 65-0 victory in 1915. However, Ole Miss snapped that streak with a win in 1926 and became the first team to win The Golden Egg. After a string of success through the 50s and 60s, Ole Miss currently holds a 63-46-6 record over the Bulldogs ahead of the 118th meeting of the two bitter rivals.
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State latest history
The recent editions of the Egg Bowl have seen some of the most intense scenes since those violent days of the 1926 clash. In 2017, Ole Miss wide receiver DK Metcalf sparked outrage when he mimicked a urinating dog following a third-quarter touchdown. The Rebels won 31-28, with Metcalf embraced as a hero by large swathes of the Ole Miss community.
However, when Elijah Moore produced the same touchdown celebration in 2019, there were consequences. On the field, the unsportsmanlike penalty resulted in a missed extra point that cost Ole Miss the game. Off the field, Moore’s behavior was branded as “disappointing and unacceptable.”
The two celebrations sandwiched an even more extraordinary scene in 2018. Following an Ole Miss touchdown, a scuffle broke out that resulted in punches being thrown. As a result, four players were ejected, and every single player received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The diabolical display, the very epitome of a hated rivalry, saw the game dubbed “The Egg Brawl.”
In the midst of a disrupted season, last year’s Egg Bowl was the first between Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach. It resulted in a 31-24 win for Ole Miss. Although the two coaches haven’t embraced the hated rivalry in the same way as some previous coaches, don’t expect anything as cordial on the field when the two teams kick off in Starkville on Thanksgiving.