I pastor a church that is 74 miles from Starkville, MS and Mississippi State University. Our church is also 95 miles from Oxford, MS and the University of Mississippi. My church is made up of a large contingency of both Rebel and Bulldog fans. These two universities’ football teams have been playing each other since 1901 in what today is known as the Egg Bowl. I need to confess something, I was born and raised in South Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi has always been my favorite Mississippi school. A deeper confession is my father was born in West Virginia and the Mountaineers have always been my favorite college team. The deepest confession is because the Eagles of USM and the Mountaineers of WVU have very seldom garnered much attention nationally, Alabama has always been my favorite big time college football team. So when it comes to this Egg Bowl thing I am an outsider.
This week I have done some reading on the Egg Bowl and thought I would share a few facts about this contest. Please understand that history is a curious creature, it changes depending on if the person telling it is wearing red/blue or maroon/white. The few details I am about to share are facts that seem to be accepted by both sides though I am sure I will be corrected about something as I arrive at church Sunday. I will share a few of my opinions as well. Here we go – THE EGG BOWL:
1. The first game was played between the Mississippi State Aggies and the Mississippi Rebels in 1901 with State winning the first contest 17-0. In my opinion, the first of something is always the most important. State won the most important contest ever between Ole Miss/MSU. There can only be one first.
2. State dominated the first few years of this rivalry. In the first 23 years the two schools played each other MSU won 18. At one time in this stretch MSU won 13 in a row.
3. The two schools have played twice in the same year only once. In 1918, during the time of bulldog domination in the rivalry, State beat Ole Miss in Starkville 34-0 and then beat them again later in Oxford 13-0.
4. In 1926 things changed. The Rebels beat State 7-6 ending the Bulldog’s 13 game winning streak against Ole Miss. Some of the details are disputed but what seems to be the case is after the game some State fans perceived some Rebel fans were going to tear down the goal post and a melee ensued among the fans. Ask any Rebel fan and he will tell you the Bulldog fans started it. Ask any Bulldog fan and he will tell you the Rebel fans were the instigators. After this game the Rebels would dominate the series.
5. Because of the altercation at the end of 1926’s game a trophy was created to give the rivalry dignity and class as opposed to what happen following the Rebels’ win in Starkville. The golden egg was created. In 1927 the two schools battled for the egg. Ole Miss won the first contest for the golden egg on Thanksgiving Day defeating the Bulldogs 20-12. If the first game was the most important in this rivalry then the 1927 game has to be the second most important. Ole Miss are the only ones who can say we were the first to win the egg. By the way, the trophy accomplished its goal and a dignified trophy presentation took place in 1927 with the players singing their school’s alma mater as part of the presentation.
6. Let’s call it the Egg Bowl. In 1978 the Bulldogs were 6-4 and the Rebels were 4-6 going into the battle for the egg. In 1977 the Clarion Ledger had reported State’s win with a headline that read, EGG BOWL ’77 STATE 20 OLE MISS 14. Because neither team was going to a bowl game in 1978 the EGG BOWL that was used in the headline in 1977 was hyped in the papers and at the schools and the name stuck. It has been the Egg Bowl ever since.
7. When the egg was introduced in 1927 Ole Miss owned it the first 10 years going 9-0-1 against MSU.
8. 1964 was a huge year for State as they won the egg bowl and stopped Ole Miss’ 17 year unbeaten streak. From 1947-1964 Ole Miss had gone 14-0-3 against Mississippi State.
9. Most fans believe the egg bowl first began to be played in Jackson and not on the campuses in 1973. However, that is not the case. The games were played regularly in Jackson in the early years of the rivalry. The fifth game in the series was played in Jackson in 1905. The game has also been played in Columbus, Tupelo, Clarksdale and even Greenwood in 1920 and 21. However, from 1973-1990 the games were played in Jackson, MS.
10. Some say God had a hand in the Ole Miss win in 1983. Ole Miss was leading 24-23 with 24 seconds remaining and State had the ball on the Rebel 10 yard line. State’s Artie Crosby kicked the ball that seemed destined to go through the goalposts for a Bulldog win. However, a wind gust nearing 40 mph knocked the ball down preserving the Rebel win and a trip to the Independence Bowl. Take a look at the “IMMACULATE DEFLECTION.”
11. In 2003 the Rebels won the 100th renewal of this rivalry; a significant win for sure.
12. State has had the better of it lately winning 5 out of the last 7 contests.
13. Ole Miss leads the rivalry 59-45-6. This is the on the field contests and does not include 2 forfeits by MSU for recruiting violations. Do we really think that in the other 109 meetings there have not been any recruiting violations?
14. Since the egg was introduced Ole Miss has been dominant going 55-26-5. That means they have possessed the egg 60 years to MSU’S 26. It is amazing that out of the 5 ties Ole Miss had won each of the previous years and by rule they were able to keep possession of the egg for another year.
Today when the players from these 2 schools take field they will run by the egg and look at the prize for which they are competing. The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:14 ” I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” The mark Paul is pressing forward for is knowing Jesus, maturing in Christ. It is my prayer as God’s children that everyday we run by this trophy for a glimpse as we start our day and remind ourselves today this is the prize, knowing Jesus intimately, that we compete for.