No. 3: 2022 Egg Bowl: Mississippi State football vs. Ole Miss Rebels
The last game ever coached by the Pirate was absolutely going to make the list. The Egg Bowl is always pivotal, but the 2022 game was especially important. Both Mississippi State and Ole Miss made waves with the hires of Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin respectively in 2020. Two of college football’s most brilliant offensive minds and most interesting characters were going to face off as rivals in the Magnolia State.
Through two seasons, Kiffin had gotten the better of Leach. Ole Miss won the Egg Bowl in both 2020 and 2021 and had more successful seasons in those years. Leach and MSU desperately needed to get back on top.
The tide turned on a rainy Thanksgiving night in Oxford. The Bulldog defense stifled a Rebel running game that had been amongst the nation’s best, holding Ole Miss to just 78 rushing yards on 39 attempts. MSU recorded two sacks, 15 tackles for loss, and recovered a fumble.
Meanwhile, it was the Air Raid team that found success on the ground. With Will Rogers struggling, State relied on their running backs to move the ball. The tandem of Johnson and Marks combined for 149 rushing yards at 5.7 yards per carry, griding away at a porous Ole Miss run defense.
But it wouldn’t be an Egg Bowl without wackiness. Up 24-16 late in the 4th, State looked poised to put the game away. On 2nd-and-goal from the one, Will Rogers attempted to run the ball in on a read option keeper. But it just wasn’t Rogers night, as he fumbled, giving the Rebels life.
Ole Miss went on a 99-yard drive, scoring a touchdown with 1:25 left to make it 24-22. But the Bulldog defense would save the day once again. On the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt, Randy Charlton would knock down a shovel pass from Jaxson Dart to keep the Bulldogs ahead. State recovered the Rebel’s onside kick attempt and kneeled out the clock.
State won the Egg Bowl for the first time since 2019 and secured their best finish in the SEC West standings since 2014. And most importantly, Mike Leach went out a winner.