COLUMN: Sweetest Ever?

There have been many great Egg Bowls, but considering all the ramifications of the 2014 version, if you are a Rebel fan, it's hard to beat the 2014 version the Rebels won 31-17 over No. 4 Mississippi State.

This was the 36th Egg Bowl in a row I have attended as an admitted and proud Ole Miss-biased reporter.

I've witnessed, up close and personal from the sidelines, the Immaculate Deflection, the two-point conversion, The Stand, Eli ushering Jackie Sherrill out in a rain storm shutout, Deuce to Romaro, and the 45-0 massacre in 2008.

But I can honestly say, I have never had a sweeter taste in my mouth than the 31-17 win over MSU Saturday night.

The reasons are many.

One, the Rebels needed it after having an unfortunate November where they easily could have won two more games and then just didn't have the edge against Arkansas last week.

Two, overcoming adversity is the mark of a really good team. The Rebels had plenty, losing several key players on a squad that cannot afford to lose the likes of Laquon Treadwell, Denzel Nkemdiche, etc., and having their QB playing with a bum ankle, their All-American FS playing with a beat up shoulder/ribs and losing WR Vincent Sanders in the early going of this contest. Folks, that's just plain old pride and wanting it more.

Three, the Golden Egg belongs in Oxford. History tells us that. Heck, my own career tells me that - the Rebels are now 22-14 in Egg Bowls I have covered. They can foolishly claim that Mississippi is their state, which everyone knows is a joke, but this is our trophy, and Coach Hugh Freeze is now 2-1 against them during some of the better times in their history.

Four, I can't stand their coach. There, I said it. Sue me. The School Up North stuff, the "I hate Ole Miss" stuff, it's all bush league and I despise the fact he is even a factor in this rivalry equation. Now he can shut his pie hole for another 12 months.

Five, Freeze made it a point to say in his press conference that he never thought of this game as a chance to ruin MSU's season. Well, he's a better man than me. That's just about all I thought about. The thought of them playing in the first national playoff or the SEC Championship game or anything else made me physically ill. I know the previous two paragraphs are unprofessional. Guess what? I don't give a damn. I'd be willing to bet my house and first-born grandchild other Rebels feel the same way.

Six, this Ole Miss team, despite some hiccups, worked their tails off to be better than they were the year before and to aim higher. They didn't quite reach all their goals - titles were on their mind, but any Rebel who is not proud of this team needs to take a second look at what satisfies them. 9-3 in the third year of a fledgling program is pretty high cotton. To those who think differently, I can't help you.

Seven, I wanted a warm weather bowl. The Rebs should get one after beating a number one team and a number four team in the same year. I know it's selfish, but I'm old and my bones are brittle.

Eight, Rebel fans deserve this. There have been waves of rough times in the last decade or so for the faithful, tough times only tough fans can endure. They, you, deserved this reward.

Nine, and this one is personal, after the MSU player faceplanted Bo Wallace in their turf last year in a classic cheap shot after he fumbled and lost the game in overtime, I wanted that young man - who now has as many wins as Eli Manning (24) and is the total offense leader in Rebel history - to have some payback. Payback he did and he ended his career 2-1 against the Pups from Starkville.

Ten, there are a hundred more reasons, but you get the drift.

The bottom line is that I have seen a lot of these Egg Bowls. I have rejoiced many times, cried more than I wanted to, but I don't think - as far as I can recall, that there has ever been a sweeter one.

Hotty Toddy!


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