November 27, 2014

Kent's Corner: The Egg Bowl

One of the stranger college football rivalry names is the annual Egg Bowl, played between the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University.  The unusual name comes not from some poultry-related origin, but from the rivalry trophy itself, which dates back to 1927 and is capped with a brass football.  As the shape of a football in the 1920’s was not as streamlined as today, to current fans the ball more resembles an egg.  In 1979, sportswriter Tom Patterson of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger gave the game the nickname “The Egg Bowl.”

The annual game, which was first played in 1901, is traditionally the final game of the regular season for both teams and is held on Thanksgiving weekend (occasionally on Thanksgiving Day).  While the game now alternates between Oxford and Starkville, the contest has also been held in Columbus, Tupelo, Clarksdale, Greenwood and Jackson.

Ole Miss and Mississippi State have not always been the Rebels and the Bulldogs.  Ole Miss was first known as the Red and Blue, then The Flood before becoming Rebels in 1936.  As MSU was first known as Mississippi A&M College, the teams were known as the Aggies, then the Maroons and finally Bulldogs in 1961.

The initial meeting was won by Mississippi State, although the game was delayed for 40 minutes as the two schools debated the eligibility of a State player.  After the first 11 games the series was dead even at five wins a piece and one tie.  No games were played from 1912-1914, but since 1915 the Egg Bowl has been held each year, with the exception of 1943 when neither school fielded a team during World War II. 

As with most rivalries, each team has had eras of dominance.  From 1911-1925 The Bulldogs won 13 consecutive games.  That trend flipped to the Rebels the next year as Ole Miss had a 9-0-1 record from 1926-1935. They also had a streak from 1947-1963 where the Rebels went 14-0-3.

The Egg Bowl has not been without climatic endings. In 1983, a potential game-winning MSU kick fell short due to a 40 mile per hour wind.  In 1999, with less than 30 seconds to play in a tie ball game, Ole Miss threw an interception, which was returned deep into Rebel territory. The Bulldogs kicked the game winning field goal with eight seconds to play and won 23-20.

Ole Miss leads the all-time series with a 59-45-6 edge. Two MSU wins have been forfeited, bringing the total to 61-43-6.  Of late, MSU has the upper hand, winning four of the past five games, and taking last year’s game in overtime.

Kent Stephens is the curator and historian at the College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience. Kent has been a part of the Hall staff since 1990 when it was located in Kings Island, Ohio. He relocated with the Hall to South Bend, Ind., and moved to Atlanta in 2013, becoming the only member of the staff to serve at all three locations.

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