I attended my first Egg Bowl game as a child back in 1969. The game was played in Starkville and Ole Miss won rather handily, as I recall. While the game itself was one sided against my beloved Bulldogs, it was the verbal abuse I took as a nine year old kid from an intoxicated Rebel fan that solidified my hatred of Ole Miss.
The game wasn’t called the Egg Bowl back then. The name “Egg Bowl” was coined some years later by the Clarion-Ledger sports department to address the fact that neither team had played in a bowl game in some time. The C-L created the “Egg Bowl” as a way to create some hype for the Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss game. The name stuck.
While I haven’t been to EVERY Egg Bowl game since 1969, I have been to quite a few. So I decided to put together a list of my ten favorite Egg Bowls. Naturally, all are MSU wins. Then, in the spirit of recognizing this great rivalry and the heartbreak that sometimes comes with being a fan, I put together my personal list of the six worst Egg Bowls, which I have shared below.
Keep in mind that these lists were created from my range of my experiences. These are games that occurred during my lifetime that I either attended in person or watched on TV. (Games marked with * are one I personally attended.) These are not necessarily the greatest (worst) games of all time, but they are the ones that stick out in my mind, for better or worse.
Since I always like to get the bad out of the way first, here are the six worst Egg Bowls of my lifetime:
6. 2008 – Ole Miss 45, MSU 0 (Oxford). Does this one even need a comment? This was one serious beat down, and the only good thing that came from it is that it mercifully brought an end to the Croom era.
5. 1971 – Ole Miss 48, MSU 0 (Starkville)*. Some of you reading this probably weren’t alive for this one, but this is probably the only game that I’ve ever seen droves of people leaving the game – in the second quarter! After a scoreless first quarter, the Rebels scored 42 points in the second period. That’s right, 42 points in one quarter. You can’t do that without some turnover help from your opponent, and the Bulldogs were in an extremely helpful mood that day.
4. 2012 – Ole Miss 41, MSU 24 (Oxford). Yep, last year’s game makes the list for me. Why? Because of the way this game flipped the script on the two programs. If State had won this one, the mood surrounding the two fan bases would be much different today. This was a game changer for the Rebels and a missed opportunity for the Bulldogs to notch a fourth straight win in the series for the first time since 1942.
3. 1997 – Ole Miss 15, MSU 14 (Starkville). Tommy Tuberville’s reputation as a riverboat gambler was sealed by this one. The Rebels trailed 14-7 late in this one and had been outplayed for most of the game. But they put together a long drive late that culminated in a touchdown and two point conversion to win the game. In addition to losing a heartbreaker in dramatic fashion to their bitter rival, this game also cost the 7-4 Bulldogs a bowl bid. That bid to the Motor City Bowl went to the Rebels, who were also 7-4.
2. 1981 – Ole Miss 21, MSU 17 (Jackson)*. In true MSU fashion, the Bulldogs dominated the Rebels in every area of this game except the score. All-SEC kicker Dana Moore knuckle-balled one of the ugliest field goals in the history of football through the uprights to give the Bulldogs a 17-14 lead in the closing minute. Playing in his final game as a Rebel, quarterback John Fourcade led the Rebels in a desperation last minute drive. The key play in the drive was an apparent interception of Fourcade in the end zone by State cornerback Kenneth Johnson, which appeared to seal the win for the Bulldogs. But a controversial pass interference call gave the Rebels first and goal on the one yard line and Fourcade ran it in on the next play to give the Rebels the upset win. This game sticks in my craw for two reasons. First, State dominated almost the entire game and it never should have come down to the final drive. Second, the alleged pass interference call happened right in front of me. I was sitting in the student section on about the fifth row, directly in front of the end zone where the play took place. The defender turned towards the ball and out-jumped the receiver for the catch. There is no way that was pass interference, and I’ve never forgotten the name of the jerk official who made the call – Dick Pace.
1. 1983 – Ole Miss 24, MSU 23 (Jackson)*. This is the so-called “immaculate deflection” game. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, but just as MSU’s game winning field goal was approaching the goal posts, a huge gust of wind suspended the ball momentarily in mid air and it fell short of the goal post. (It’s a crude video, but here’s what it looked like) That in itself was bad enough, but again, in true MSU fashion, it should have never come to that. MSU led 17-7 at half and it should have been 17-0, but a long punt return TD right before half gave the Rebels new life. The Bulldogs expanded the lead to 23-7 going into the fourth quarter, but suddenly began turning the ball over, facilitating the Rebel comeback. A detail often forgotten because of the windblown field goal is the lucky bounce the Rebels got on the first fourth quarter touchdown. On an attempted dive play at the goal line, the Rebel running back fumbled but the ball was scooped up by quarterback Kelly Powell, who ran around the right end for the touchdown. I have should have realized right then that it wasn’t going to be our day.
Coming tomorrow: My ten favorite Egg Bowls. If you’re an MSU fan, you’ll enjoy that list much more.