Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

What the Egg Bowl game means to me

The Mississippi State Bulldogs and the University of Mississippi "Ole Miss" Rebels have squared off in the Egg Bowl during rivalry week 113 times. The Rebels lead this rivalry 63-44-6, but in recent years the games have been more even. In the last 26 years, Mississippi State has won 14 times and Ole Miss 12.

Growing up in Austin, Texas not many of my friends knew who Mississippi State was or the history of the Egg Bowl or just what it means to the people of Mississippi. My dad, who is a 1985 graduate of Mississippi State, moved to Texas after earning his degree from State.

Every year, during Thanksgiving, we watched the Egg Bowl game cheering as hard as we could for the Bulldogs. Growing up watching re-runs of classic games like "The Pick and the Kick" in 1999 that my dad had recorded on VHS or the 2000 Independence Bowl better known as the "Snow Bowl" really helped me understand the importance of this game.

In addition, seeing players succeed on the field for State, players like Jerious Norwood, Anthony Dixon, Jamar Chaney, Kyle Love, Keith Fitzhugh, Derek Pegues, Chad Bumphis, Darius Slay, and many others helped me to appreciate and gain that same sense of pride that my dad has for the Bulldogs. Some of those guys we now watch on Sunday's in the NFL. And there are others who didn't make the NFL but State fans still remember due to their contributions to the Bulldog program.

More recently these games have meant more because the stakes have grown. In 2008, Ole Miss was playing for a bid in the Cotton Bowl and in 2014 Mississippi State was playing for a bid to the first ever College Football Playoff.

Mississippi State's head coach Dan Mullen, since taking the reins in 2009, has changed the expectations and has revitalized the program, taking MSU to number 1 in the ranking and to six straight bowl games.

In 2014, it was the first-ever meeting in the Egg Bowl when both teams were ranked. Mississippi State was the 4th ranked team in the nation and Ole Miss was ranked 19th.

In 2013, there was the famous "Run and the Strip" in which Mississippi State legend Dak Prescott, who was just a sophomore at the time, came into the game during overtime after being cleared to play that same day. He ran the ball into the endzone, putting the Bulldogs up by seven. Then on the defensive possession safety Nickoe Whitley stripped Rebels QB Bo Wallace as he was running towards the end zone and cornerback Jamerson Love recovered the ball, sealing the 17-10 victory for the Bulldogs.

Watching those games, while growing up, was an awesome experience. And it has been surreal to see players you grew up watching throughout their college career succeed at the highest level. Dillon Day's Broncos team won Super Bowl 50. Darius Slay making an interception to set up the game-winning field goal for the Lions as I'm writing this article. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott taking the NFL by storm with the Dallas Cowboys.

As a current student of Mississippi State, I feel a great sense of pride for my school and all the players and people in it. I appreciate the history. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to experience it all with my cowbell ringing in the hand.

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