COLUMN: Egg Bowl has created, and continues to create, family memories

Brad Logan
For the Clarion Ledger
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The annual game between Ole Miss and Mississippi State on the gridiron, affectionately known as the “Battle for the Golden Egg,” is talked about 365 days a year. More importantly, it’s talked about between families throughout the state, many of which are on opposites sides.

Let’s just say it makes for interesting Christmas gatherings, with the fans of the victors making sure the “other” fans remember who has bragging rights for the entire year.

A series that dates back to 1901, Ole Miss holds a huge advantage overall, 64-45-6. Over the past 30 years, it’s been much more competitive.

How competitive? It’s dead even.

Since the 1989 game, which saw Ole Miss win 21-11 in Jackson, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are tied at 15-15 ahead of Thursday night's contest.

It all began when former Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill, who came from Texas A&M, and former Ole Miss head coach Billy Brewer, who brought success back to Oxford for the first time since the 1960s, met on the field in Starkville for the first on-campus meeting between the Rebels and the Bulldogs since 1972.

Mississippi State won 24-9 that day, its first win in Starkville since 1942, and a precedent was set.

A year later, Ole Miss got its revenge as the Bulldogs were shut out of the end zone inside the 10-yard line, on 11 plays late in the game, and failed to score. The game known as “The Stand” ended with Ole Miss winning 17-10, sending the Rebels to the Liberty Bowl and Mississippi State headed to the Peach Bowl.

Sherrill went on to have one of the most successful runs in program history, culminating with a trip to Atlanta in the SEC Championship game in 1998. Had Ole Miss not won the 1997 game on a 2-point conversion, Mississippi State could have enjoyed a 4-game win streak at the time. The 15-14 Ole Miss win in 1997, which sent the Rebels to the Motor City Bowl, is a classic one in the series.

The “Pick and the kick” would come during the 1999 season when Ole Miss elected to try and win the game late in the 4th quarter. The Rebels had led 20-6 and saw the Bulldogs make a late rally and tie the game at 20-20. Bulldog defensive back Eugene Clinton intercepted Ole Miss quarterback Romaro Miller, then Mississippi State kicker Scott Westerfield made the game-winning, 44-yard field goal, securing the 23-20 win.

Both programs saw storied success during the 2014 season as both teams found themselves ranked in the top five of the College Football Playoff rankings, only to see that success dissipate with NCAA investigations, coaching changes, and just plain pure hatred.

No matter the situation this Thursday night, many of you will be remembering the “Immaculate Deflection” back in 1983 when God blew the ball back and Ole Miss found a way to win 24-23 inside Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson. You might reflect on the day Mississippi State defensive back Derek Pegues took a punt 75 yards for the touchdown, leading the Bulldogs to a 17-14 win in 2007. It could be the night Ole Miss wide receiver Donta Moncrief finished with 173 receiving yards and grabbed three touchdowns, as Ole Miss routed the No. 25-ranked Bulldogs 41-24 in 2012.

No matter the games or the locations, we remember the pageantry and the experiences, many of which happened with those who have since passed on. The teams might not have won but the conversations with our dad, brother, sister, mother and friends cannot be forgotten.

The smiles, tears, hugs and laughter shared between family members live on in Egg Bowl lore, each year making memories to share with others.

I look forward to saying this each year.

It’s Egg Bowl week.

This is the opinion of Brad Logan. He writes a weekly column for the Clarion Ledger.

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