This year it’s Starkville, where Ole Miss has a six-game advantage in wins and losses since the series began in 1901. But the past eight times the game’s been at MSU, Ole Miss has just one win – 2003. The advantage down there before this Bulldog run of victories was heavily in the Rebels’ favor.
To be honest, Ole Miss let four of those slip away, or at least three. I guess you could say the eight-point MSU win in 2001 was maybe State's all the way. But in 1999, 2007, and 2013, the Rebels turned loose of victory and State willingly grabbed it. You recall those without any more details.
My first “Battle” that I can recall was when I was a kid and my dad took me, my mother and his mother to the game. It was at State. Archie was a junior and the Rebels were heavy favorites. I still recall a cousin, who was a MSU student at the time, asking us a few days before if we were going down there for the slaughter. And it was that, 48-22 Ole Miss.
The next year in Oxford was forgettable for Ole Miss. State won and the celebration was of monumental proportions for the Bulldogs. It was just the second win for Mississippi State in the series in 25 years. It was the first year of the Astroturf in Hemingway Stadium, and that concrete surface had already cost Archie the Heisman with a broken arm vs. Houston. I heard, but didn’t see, that some State person(s) climbed the UM water tower and painted “We beat your ass on your artificial grass" on it. Maybe it was true; maybe not. Maybe some of you saw it.
The next year at Scott Field Ole Miss didn't forget. It was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter, 42-0 Ole Miss at halftime, and the State “home” side had basically emptied. It ended up 48-0.
I had a streak of Egg Bowls (that’s what they started calling it when I was a college student) that lasted from that first trip to Starkville in ’69 through 1983, the year of the Immaculate Deflection in Jackson. The 1981 game remains one of my favorites. Nobody could draw the ire of an opponent like John Fourcade. When he raced into the end zone untouched, ball hoisted in the air, to upset a pretty good MSU team that season, there was no finer moment for Rebel Nation.
The next year I threw in the towel on the Rebs after a lopsided loss to Tennessee, and my Egg Bowl streak ended. I shouldn’t have. Final: Ole Miss 24, State 3.
MSU wanted the game moved back to campus more than Ole Miss. The Rebels had dominated the series in Jackson, and Billy Brewer’s teams were 7-1 vs. State before Jackie Sherrill and Larry Templeton took it back to Starkville. Ole Miss followed suit for recruiting purposes. The first game back in Oxford was memorable. What was it, 11 offensive plays inside the UM 10 for MSU late in the game or something, as Ole Miss held on to win 17-10 in dramatic fashion?
The move back to campus in 1991 has benefited MSU. The Bulldogs have a 13-11 edge since then after Ole Miss had dominated for decades. State still trails in the overall series by 19 games.
MSU’s a tough place to play. So is Ole Miss now. The Rebels have lost only once to MSU in Oxford since 1998. But they’ve won only once in Starkville since then, too.
A lot of years in this series only one team has been good. Sometimes the past 40 years both were average at best. Last year and this year Ole Miss and State have been on the national radar, and this year each enters the game at 8-3.
Folks always wondered what it would be like for the Egg Bowl to truly mean something, not just for one team, not just for bragging rights, but something really big for both, like a national prize or major bowl game or conference title implications.
That era is here.