Yesterday, I presented my list of the six worst Egg Bowl games of my lifetime, which not surprisingly were all Ole Miss victories. Today I give you my list of the ten greatest Egg Bowls of my lifetime and again not surprisingly, these are all Bulldog wins. As I mentioned in yesterday’s article, these are not necessarily the best (or worst) games in the entire history of the series, but rather the ones that stand out to me from my personal frame of reference. Since I grew up in Starkville and am now in my fifties, I remember a lot of Egg Bowls. The games which I personally attended are marked with an *. For the games I did not attend, I was able to watch those on TV.
10. 2001 – MSU 36, Ole Miss 28 (Starkville)*. A year removed from the famous Snow Bowl game of 2000, the Bulldogs stumbled into this game at a disappointing 2-7. Ole Miss, on the other hand, had clinched their third consecutive winning season and was led by a young quarterback named Eli Manning. Yet somehow the Bulldogs mustered their way to a surprising win to highlight an otherwise forgetful season.
9. 2009 – MSU 41, Ole Miss 27 (Starkville)*. In Dan Mullen’s first Egg Bowl, the Bulldogs avenged the 45-0 embarrassment of the previous year with a decisive win over the Cotton Bowl bound Rebels. This was the first of three consecutive Bulldog wins in the series, the first time that had happened since the 1940’s.
8. 2011 – MSU 31, Ole Miss 3 (Starkville)*. Ole Miss limped into the final game of Houston Nutt’s tenure with a 2-9 record, while MSU at 5-6 was playing for bowl eligibility. On a cold & rainy night, MSU dominated the Rebels for a very satisfying 31-3 win. Those who remained for the entire game were rewarded with a late bonus. Instant replay reversed an apparent Ole Miss touchdown on the next-to-last play of the game.
7. 1991 – MSU 24, Ole Miss 9 (Starkville). In Jackie Sherrill’s first Egg Bowl, the Bulldogs earned a Liberty Bowl bid win a dominating performance over the Rebels. I remember paying $29.95 for the pay per view on this game, which was a lot of money to me back then. But it was well worth it.
6. 1974 – MSU 31, Ole Miss 13 (Jackson)*. The Sun Bowl bound Bulldogs, led by QB Rockey Felker and running backs Walter Packer and Terry Vitrano, slashed and gashed the Rebel defense with their vaunted Veer offense and rolled to an easy win to cap off an 8-3 regular season. The Bulldogs went on to defeat North Carolina in the 1974 Sun Bowl.
5. 1970 – MSU 19, Ole Miss 14 (Oxford)*. In the first SEC road game I ever attended, the Bulldogs scored the upset over the Gator Bowl bound Rebels to finish at 6-5, their first winning season since the 1963 Liberty Bowl season. The Rebels were playing without star QB Archie Manning, who had broken his arm earlier in the season and was unavailable. That mattered little to me, as I was enjoying the sweet taste of revenge for the 1969 game (see yesterday’s list.)
4. 1980 – MSU 19, Ole Miss 14 (Jackson)*. Ten years later, we had a second 19-14 Egg Bowl. In this one, freshman QB John Bond capped a nine win season with an impressive performance against the Rebels. In a game where the score was much closer than the actual game, Bond was unstoppable with 163 rushing yards to lead the way. This win was made even sweeter by the fact that the Bulldogs had already registered wins over then-#1 ranked Alabama, Auburn and LSU. This Egg Bowl win gave them their ninth win of the year for only the second time since 1941.
3. 2007: – MSU 17, Ole Miss 14 (Starkville)*. In Ed Orgeron’s final game as the Rebel head coach, Ole Miss pretty well dominated the first 50 minutes of the game and held a seemingly insurmountable 14-0 lead. But a failed fourth down conversion seemed to re-energize the Bulldogs. Derek Pegues’ electrifying 75 yard punt return tied the game and a last second field goal secured the win in a game that for the Bulldogs had seemed hopelessly lost just minutes earlier. This essence of this game was masterfully captured by this Youtube video:
2. 1998: – MSU 28, Ole Miss 6 (Oxford). This game wasn’t close and although convincing wins over Ole Miss are always sweet, this one ranks as #2 for me primarily because of the significance of the victory. The Bulldogs earned a spot in the SEC championship game with this win.
1. 1999: – MSU 23, Ole Miss 20 (Starkville)*. This is definitely my all time favorite Egg Bowl game. Played on a damp and cold Thanksgiving night before a national ESPN TV audience, Ole Miss entered the fourth quarter with a commanding 20-6 lead. But this MSU team had a knack for come-from-behind wins and this game would be the best comeback of the year. State scored two touchdowns in that fourth quarter, the second one with just seconds left in the game play to it at 20. Ole Miss Coach David Cutcliffe chose not to play for overtime, opting instead to have QB Romero Miller throw deep. But the pass was broken up and the ball ricocheted off Robert Bean’s foot into the hands of Eugene Clinton, who raced down the sidelines to the Ole Miss 27 yard line. With just eight seconds to play, MSU’s Scott Westerfield came on and kicked a game winning 44 yard field goal. This victory was especially sweet to me for two reasons. First, my then thirteen year old daughter was attending her very first Egg Bowl. Secondly, we had endured a group of trash talking Ole Miss fans sitting near us for the entire game. Needless to say, we had the last laugh that night. I never get tired of watching this video:
Thanks for indulging me this trip down memory lane. Enjoy your Thanksgiving, but don’t forget that your Bulldogs need you Thursday night in Davis Wade Stadium. Hope to see you there.