Win The Day, Enjoy The Year

Jaylen Walton had a magnificent run of 91 yards for a touchdown against Mississippi State Saturday to put his team up two touchdowns in the third quarter. It was the third-longest run in Ole Miss football history.

There was a lot of time left, but most on both sides of the game probably knew the Bulldogs would have a difficult time winning because of it. And, up 24-10 at that point, since the Rebels were likely to score more themselves.

Because the Rebel defense had come to play. And because the offense was playing well again, mixing it up, throwing some wrinkles at MSU, and did indeed score again on the Bo Wallace to Jordan Wilkins to Cody Core play for a touchdown that once again gave Ole Miss a two-touchdown lead at 31-17.

Back to Walton’s run. Thing of beauty that will go down as one of those special runs in Battles for the Golden Egg through the years, which Ole Miss now leads 56-26-5 since the inception of the trophy in 1927. In all games counting the ones prior to that 1927 game, Ole Miss leads 62-43-6.

Walton’s run from basically the north end zone to the south end zone after he eluded early would-be tacklers will likely forever be talked about when this series is mentioned. There have been other runs of note for the Rebels in this series.

Like the 1-yard run by senior Rebel quarterback John Fourcade in 1981 to claim the Golden Egg for Ole Miss 21-17, hoisting the football high in the air as he crossed the goal line.

And the late-game keeper when sophomore quarterback Jim Weatherly in the 1962 Battle for the Golden Egg missed a handoff to running back David Jennings but kept the football, racing untouched for some 40 yards and a score to preserve the Rebels’ only perfect season in a 13-6 victory.

Or the collective running of a couple of great Rebels. Dou Innocent, who ran for 242 yards on 39 carries in the MSU game in 1995, a 13-10 UM win. And “Showboat” Boykin, who scored seven touchdowns against State in 1951, a 49-7 Ole Miss victory, which stood as the NCAA single-game scoring record for one player for 39 years.

Ironically, it has been rushing the football that Ole Miss has had the most trouble with this season on offense. Against MSU on Saturday, the Rebels accumulated 205 yards on 31 carries, averaging 6.6 yards per rush.

That was a major part of what did the Bulldogs in. It made a huge difference in the outcome of this game.

Just a week earlier the Rebels had stumbled and fumbled their way to a 30-0 loss at Arkansas. Earlier in the season they’d been ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation.

So it was all turning into this?

Actually an 8-4 regular season would have been the best since 2009. But after a 7-0 start this season, 8-4 and a second straight loss to MSU would have been little for Ole Miss fans to brag about.

There was a silent buildup to the 111th renewal of this rivalry. MSU fans could do some talking, their team at 10-1 on the season and in the national playoffs at the time at No. 4, after being No. 1 for about a month this season.

Ole Miss fans mostly had to keep quiet, as did their team and coaches. Closed practices. No Bo Wallace, of the hurt ankle and with revenge on his mind, to interview during the week. Not much hype surrounding the game for the Rebels. Much moreso for State.

So that’s why Saturday during the day was mostly quiet and calm, and even as fans filtered into the stadium those in red and blue didn’t seem to be into it.

Then came pregame and kickoff, and that stadium was wild, at least among the nearly 60,000 Ole Miss fans there, until an hour or more after the game.

It was loud, the students were into it, the general fan population yelled as one for 60 minutes.

But mostly what made all that happen was more of a repeat of the 2012 Egg Bowl that Ole Miss won 41-24 than what had happened a week earlier in Fayetteville.

No denying that was a disappointing performance for all involved last weekend, from coaches, players, fans, and everyone associated with Ole Miss.

But to bounce back the way they did against the instate archrival and get the Golden Egg back in Oxford and to put another “W” on the trophy itself, sending Ole Miss to a fairly significant bowl game, spoke volumes about the focus this past week on the MSU game.

But it also spoke volumes that Ole Miss didn’t forget last season’s disappointing heartache loss in overtime to a lesser talented Bulldog team that at the time had a losing record.

Never lost on that was the fact that Bo Wallace wanted this one as bad as any game he’d ever played in. We interviewed him back in the summer. He said, without going into a lot of detail, it had been a brutal half a year for him to that point. And while there was a lot of football to be played before Saturday, it was a game that was circled, perhaps if only in the proverbial sense.

So for Bo to get his revenge, for Ole Miss to get the Egg back, for the Rebels to claim that this was indeed a super season and head to a major bowl, they had to beat State on Saturday.

And no moment proved they were there to "Win The Day" more than the 91-yard race to glory by Jaylen Walton.

So in the latest edition of the Battle for the Golden Egg, Ole Miss won the day.

Now Rebel Nation can enjoy the year.

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