A Golden Opportunity

The Battle of the Golden Egg is set for today at 11:30 am CT. Read about it inside.

The significance in the Battle of the Golden Egg is often preached throughout the weeks of the holiday season, with this year's matchup being no different.

When Ole Miss and Mississippi State take the field this morning, pride will not merely be the reward for the victor.

In 2008, especially for those fans of the Rebels, the annual grudge match will mean much, much more.

"There's always an extra fire with State," junior cornerback Cassius Vaughn said. "It's State. They're our instate rival. You're either Blue and Red or Maroon and White. We just have to come out and do what we have to do. We have to go out and play good ball and see what happens."

On the table for our boys in Red and Blue are an 8-4 record and postseason berth – the first since 2003 – and an ability to cast away that sickening feeling from the happenings in Starkville last season.

With a 17-14 heartbreak still reigning overhead in Oxford, this year's gridiron battle will be as heated as ever.

It's the 105th meeting in one of the nation's most-played rivalries and a golden opportunity to close out the regular season with a bang.

"We were supposed to win last year," said Outland Trophy finalist Michael Oher. "There's a lot of motivation. We have a chance to go to a big-time bowl and we're coming in ready to play. We blew so many opportunities last year. I hate that we lost that game. It was a disgusting loss."

Ole Miss holds a 59-39-6 advantage in the series dating back to 1901. The series is tied with North Carolina-Wake Forest as the 16th longest in NCAA Division-I history.

It's the 81st battle for the coveted Egg Bowl trophy, as the schools started playing for it in 1927.

"I think you can throw the records out," head coach Houston Nutt said. "The rivalry is there and it will be the most competitive game of the year. Forget the records. It's going to be a fight. It's so competitive and everything is bigger. This will be talked about for a full year from Friday."

The home team has won eight of the last nine games, with Ole Miss taking four of the last six. However, State holds a narrow 9-8 edge in the 17 meetings since the series returned to campus sites in 1991 after being played yearly in Jackson from 1973-1990.

A win on Senior Day inside the friendly confines of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium would be a nice bit of icing on the proverbial cake.

"There won't be a good ending until we beat State," said Conerly Trophy finalist Peria Jerry. "I'm looking forward to winning out or whatever comes. It's not all about last year. It's about respect when we play Mississippi State. It's a big rivalry. We're trying to get that respect back."

After being played on the Saturday following Thanksgiving for two seasons, the Egg Bowl will be played the Friday after the holiday for the second straight year. From 1998 through 2003, the game was played on Thanksgiving Night and televised nationally on ESPN.

The Rebels hold a 20-10-3 advantage in games played in Oxford and have won four straight.

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