Rebels, Bulldogs To Meet In Annual “Egg Bowl” Battle

When Ole Miss and Mississippi State meet in what is commonly known as “The Egg Bowl,” it won’t have anything to do with players gathering to eating eggs sunny side up, over easy or fried.

It will be to see which team can lay claim to “The Golden Egg,” a gold-plated trophy that is shaped like a football but looks like an egg, at least to some observers. Ole Miss and State have been playing for that trophy since 1927. Ole Miss took that one 20-12.

The trophy was proposed by Iota Sigma, an honorary activities fraternity at Ole Miss. The fraternity suggested that a trophy be awarded to the winning team in a dignified ceremony designed to calm excited fans.

This year marks the 109th year that Ole Miss and Mississippi State have met on the football field in what is one of the more intense, bitter rivalries between in-state schools. State fans refer to Ole Miss as “The School Up North,” while Ole Miss fans call State a “cow college.”

In all games played, Ole Miss has a commanding 60-42-6 record, although Mississippi State has won the last three times the teams met, including the 2011 meeting at Starkville. Mississippi State jumped out to a 21-0 lead, enroute to a 31-3 victory in what became the last game coached by Ole Miss Head Coach Houston Nutt and his staff.

Former Ole Miss head coach and Columbus native Billy Brewer played and coached in this rival game. Last year, as a staff writer for Game Time Rebels, I had the opportunity to talk with Brewer and gain his perspective on this game. I came across some notes, recently, from that interview. He said he knew how important it was to win the game.

“When it comes to playing Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, I knew that, as a coach, if you don’t win this game, you’re not going to be here long. It was about your job.”

During Brewer’s head coaching tenure at Ole Miss, his teams were 8-3 against State. He started out 4-0 against them, including a 24-23 win in his debut season. But that game was known for more than just Brewer getting a win.

On Nov. 19, 1983, Ole Miss came into the annual fracas with State owning a 5-5 record. A win would give the Rebels a winning season for the first time since 1975, and a trip to the Independence Bowl.

Trailing 23-7, the Rebels roared back to take a 24-23 lead late in the fourth quarter. Things seemed to be looking good for the Rebels, for the moment.

With time winding down, Mississippi State was preparing to kick a potential game-winning field goal. MSU placekicker Artie Cosby lined up ready to end Ole Miss’s hopes and dream. There was the snap, the placement and the kick.

The kick looked as if it was going to go through the uprights, but suddenly a gust of wind caught the ball in mid-air, and the ball fell to the ground. Ole Miss fans were elated, while State fans were shocked. It became known among Ole Miss fans as “The Immaculate Deflection.”


Those were the words intoned by the late Stan Torgerson, the Ole Miss Radio Network’s play-by-play announcer that cloudy, windy November afternoon over radio airwaves that extended from Memphis to the Gulf Coast and points beyond.

Years later, a Brewer-coached team would be part of another big game between the rivals. On Nov. 28, 1992, Ole Miss and State met at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford on a brutally cold day. Ole Miss and State entered the game with matching 7-3 records. State had beaten Ole Miss, 24-9, the year before at Starkville, under first year head coach Jackie Sherrill. Sherrill proclaimed after the game that MSU “would never lose” to Ole Miss.

Late in the fourth quarter of the 1992 game, Ole Miss led 17-10, but State drove inside the Rebel 10 to set up what became known among Rebel fans as “The Stand.”

For 11 straight plays, Ole Miss’s defense, one of the nation’s best in several categories that season, held State inside the 10-yard-line, and didn’t allow a score. Ole Miss held on to win, 17-10.

Brewer said that one of the keys aiding the Rebels to the win was the fact that, during film study, he and his staff noticed some tendencies used by State’s offensive linemen. They stressed those things to the players during practice.

“The way they (the linemen) placed their hands when they got in their stance was the key. If it was to the right or left, that is where the play would go,” Brewer said.

Brewer said that one of the reasons he was able to have success against Mississippi State was that he and his staff recruited many of their players from Mississippi, who grew up with a solid understanding of the Ole Miss-MSU rivalry.

This is Hugh Freeze’s first venture in the Egg Bowl as head coach of the Rebels. History has been kind to first-year Ole Miss head coaches when they face State. Legendary Rebel coach John Vaught’s 1947 team beat State, 33-14, and would go on to have much success against them, losing only twice to MSU during his 25-year career at Oxford. The last time Ole Miss beat State was in 2008, when they won, 45-0, in the first year of Nutt’s coaching tenure. Steve Sloan and Tommy Tuberville join Vaught, Brewer and Nutt in beating State in their first year as head coach at Ole Miss.

Sloan’s Rebels won, 27-7, in 1978. Tuberville’s team beat State 13-10 at Starkville. There were some Rebel coaches who failed in their first try, as Ken Cooper and David Cutcliffe lost their first games against State.

Cooper’s Rebels lost to State, 31-13, in 1974, while Cutcliffe’s team lost to State, 23-20, in 1999. In 1994, interim Ole Miss Head Coach Joe Lee Dunn’s team lost to State, 21-17.

Allen Baswell is a veteran journalist who reports on politics, government, education and sports.

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