Forget everything you think you know about football rivalries — the Egg Bowl is something entirely different. On college football rivalry week, the word hate will be used as frequently as turkey is eaten this Thanksgiving.
But, to know what real college football hatred is, you have to know what the Egg Bowl is.
What Is the Egg Bowl?
The Egg Bowl is a college football rivalry between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Ole Miss Rebels. However, to simply term it a rivalry game does a disservice to the pure vitriol that flows through the veins of the two programs.
The Egg Bowl is passion, it is pride, but it is also pure and unadulterated hatred for the other institution just 112 miles up or down the US 45 highway.
“It’s funny. You go out just around the square, out of town, and people will tell you that ‘we don’t care if you don’t win a game this whole season,” Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart told reporters ahead of the 2023 edition of the rivalry game. “The only game we care about you guys winning is the Egg Bowl. We understand the importance of it.”
Meanwhile, Bulldogs QB Will Rogers is a Mississippi native who grew up around the rivalry game and knows how important it is to win the Egg Bowl when you attend Mississippi State.
“It means a lot,” Rogers told 247 Sports. “I’ve lived in Mississippi my whole life. My grandfather played baseball there, my sister went to school there, my dad went to school there, so I have some Mississippi ties.
“It’s cool to play in this game when you’ve grown up watching it, hearing about the rivalry and how intense it is. You hear former players talk about it before you get here. When you get here, you really see what’s going on.”
While Rogers and Dart appreciate the importance of the game to both sides of the Egg Bowl rivalry, former Mississippi State WR Osirus Mitchell perhaps best summed up the hatred and intensity during a pre-draft interview with me in 2021.
“It’s literally a war. The fans are crazy; the players are definitely crazy. They’ll try and hurt you during the play, after the play. It’s just like a fight basically. I’m not even from Mississippi, but I take that rivalry game personally. I think by far it’s the best rivalry in college football, as far as the intensity goes.”
Why Is it Called the Egg Bowl?
The hatred, the intensity, and the fight that defines the Egg Bowl actually led to the naming of the annual rivalry game between the two universities. Before the 1927 edition, it was simply known as the “Rivalry Game between Mississippi State and Ole Miss.”
However, when the intensity of the rivalry led to a brawl between fans that included smashed chairs, it was decided something needed to be done to calm the passion, somehow.
The resolution was the creation of a trophy to be given to the winner of the game. A brass football on a wooden plinth earned the name “The Golden Egg” due to its oval nature. Until the 1978 edition, the rivalry game was named “The Battle for the Golden Egg.”
When both teams were ineligible for a bowl game in 1978, the clash was termed “The Egg Bowl” by The Clarion-Ledger newspaper. The name has stuck ever since.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State Rivalry Dates Back to 1901
While The Golden Egg and The Egg Bowl have had a place in the rivalry since 1927 and 1978, the Ole Miss and Mississippi State rivalry dates all the way back to 1901.
The very first Egg Bowl took place between the then-Mississippi A&M Aggies and Ole Miss Red and Blue in Starkville. The Aggies won 17-0 to kick-start an early advantage in the rivalry.
Mississippi State enjoyed a lot of success early in Egg Bowl rivalry lore. They embarked on a winning streak between 1911 and 1925 that included a 65-0 victory in 1915. However, Ole Miss snapped that streak with a win in 1926 and became the first team to win The Golden Egg.
After a string of success through the ’50s and ’60s, Ole Miss currently holds a 64-47-6 record over the Bulldogs ahead of the 120th meeting of the two bitter rivals.
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State Latest History
Most college football rivalries invoke a war of words. However, few contain the sheer hatred-fueled violence that the Egg Bowl can provide. Some of the most recent clashes have harkened back to the original chaos and calamity of the 1926 clash.
While the hatred between the two programs fuels these outbursts, the players themselves have been known to kick up the fire with their on-field antics. In 2017, Ole Miss wide receiver DK Metcalf’s “urinating dog” celebration following a third-quarter touchdown set fire to the powder keg of emotions in the Egg Bowl.
Just two years later, the heroic reception from Ole Miss fans to Metcalf’s antics was replaced by criticism when Rebels WR Elijah Moore replicated the same celebration and was penalized on the field. A missed extra point, due to penalty yards pushing back the attempt, resulted in an Ole Miss defeat. Moore was branded “disappointing and unacceptable.”
The 2018 edition of the Egg Bowl provides a case study of the intensity and hatred of the rivalry. Dubbed “The Egg Brawl,” four players were ejected, and every single player received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after punches were thrown following an Ole Miss touchdown.
Mississippi State heads into the 2023 edition of the Egg Bowl off the back of a difficult season, but still, they have the trophy in their possession after ending a two-year Ole Miss win streak last year. Sadly, it would prove to be HC Mike Leach’s last win as a head coach — he tragically passed in the weeks following the game.
Although the team has gone 1-6 in SEC play, leading to the departure of Leach’s replacement and former DC Zach Arnett, you better believe that Mississippi State is ready for their highly-rated opponent on Thursday night.
“The Mississippi kids on our roster, they know,” interim HC Greg Knox explained to the media early in Egg Bowl week. “They understand. That’s why they came to Mississippi State, for this game. This game has been marked on the calendar, and they’re ready.”
Don’t think that Lane Kiffin’s team isn’t motivated by last year’s defeat, however.
“I think too, some things you have a different view of it when you lose it,” the Ole Miss head coach explained about his thoughts of losing the Egg Bowl last year.
“We had the trophy here for a couple of years and then lost it last year, so I hope that makes the players want it back more than just having it here the whole time.”