The Egg Bowl’s Thanksgiving Night Return Is A Reminder Of The Good Times And The Bad


This is an actual painting you can buy here.  I like that the game is being shot out of the bed of a truck.

Earlier today, it was announced the 2013 version of the Egg Bowl will be played Thanksgiving night on, as former Hoover High School head coach and star of MTV’s Two-a-Days Rush Probst liked to say, “ESPN1, not ESPN2 or the U, but ESPN1.”  This year’s game will also mark the 10-year anniversary of the last Egg Bowl played on Thanksgiving night, which ended a six year run from 1998-2003.

If you recall, ESPN got out of the Egg Bowl business just in time, as Mississippi State was in a steady state of decline and Ole Miss, though no one knew it in 2003, wasn’t too far behind them.  If my memory is correct, things turned ugly so quickly for both schools, that the Egg Bowls from 2004-2006 were not even compelling enough to slide into the Jefferson Pilot slot and were not televised at all.

While the Thanksgiving return is exciting, as it will be the only game on TV that night so EXPOSURE AND MAYBE DOLLAR BILLS, Y’ALL, I’m already nervous about coming off a short week.  Though, in a bit of good news, Ole Miss has Missouri in Oxford the previous Saturday, while State has to go to Fayetteville and play Arkansas.

So to distract myself from something I cannot control and is over seven months away, let’s revisit those games from ’98 to ’03 and wallow in the sorrow, joy, and overwhelming coaching incompetence.

Three things surrounding this game are forever burned in my mind:  Mississippi State would go to Atlanta if they won, Tommy Tuberville told the team before the game he wasn’t going anywhere, and David Morris, a walk-on, started at quarterback for Ole Miss due to a Romaro Miller injury.

So how did it go?  State won 28-6, Tuberville left for Auburn within the week, and David Morris went 8-24 for 75 yards and 3 interceptions.  If not for Deuce McAllister being Deuce McAllister and rushing for 177 yards on 40 carries with the ENTIRE STADIUM knowing Ole Miss can’t do anything but run, we would have lost 49-0.

What a horrible game.

One of the early David Cutcliffe specials.  Leading 20-6 in the fourth quarter and dominating the game, Ole Miss was moving in for a final score to put the game out of reach.  Instead, some bozo offensive lineman (one of the Johnson brothers, but I can’t remember which one) hit someone late after a first down, which pushed the ball back across the 50 and killed the drive.

Mississippi State, whose offense couldn’t have scored 17 points in two games at that point, scored 17 in about 10 minutes to win the game because Ole Miss was involved.  And, of course, the game-winning field goal was set up by a pass that was somehow kicked in the air by a falling defensive back into the arms of another State defensive back, who then returned it into field goal range and that was that.

I can’t really remember what I did when this happened, probably because the rage erased my memory, but I do remember my dad telling me he went out in the garage and sat on the trunk of his car for 30 minutes before finally summoning the strength to go to bed.

For some reason, Ole Miss and some Ole Miss fans hold this win in such high standing, probably because of the pass from Deuce McAllister to Romaro Miller that went for a touchdown in the 45-30 thrashing.  I remember it as a game in the cold rain, featuring a team that pissed away multiple opportunities that year to go to Atlanta.

That year, Ole Miss lost to Auburn 35-27 at home, a miserable Alabama team 49-7 on the road, and an average LSU team 20-9 at home.  In those three games, while the best quarterback in school history was a backup, Romaro Miller would combine to go 46-93 (49%) for 173 yds/game with 2 TDs and 7 INTs.  And everyone forgets he was awful in the State game (10-22 for 127 yards, 2TDs, 1 INT), but we were saved by McAllister who ran for 121 yards and 3 TDs and threw one.

Anyhow, yes, it’s nice to beat your in-state rival and send them to Shreveport (State was 7-3 prior to this game), but what a waste that year was.  Oh, and the team was so inspired by that win over State, they went out and got their heads kicked in by West Virginia in the Music City Bowl.

The finishing touches on Cutcliffe’s masterpiece David Cutcliffe season.  After starting 6-1, Ole Miss would lose three straight, including this game 36-28, before ending with a worthless win over Vanderbilt.  It was such an impressive collapse, not even Shreveport would take the Rebels for one final game.

What I remember on this Thanksgiving is Eli Manning deciding to have his worst game of the year, throwing 3 INTs, and the Ole Miss defense being the Ole Miss defense under David Cutcliffe, which meant giving up EVERYTHING to an opposing offense.  And all of this happened against a team that was 2-7.

Three things I’ll always remember from this game in Oxford.  It was freezing, Ole Miss looked terrible, and at some point in the game I realized the best receiver Eli was ever going to play with at Ole Miss was Chris Collins.

Now, Collins was a good college wide receiver, but he was also Chris Collins.  However, he did torch State that night for a long touchdown that helped Ole Miss win 24-12.

Looking back, was it any surprise a Cutcliffe team struggled through this game?  It was in November, the month of death for him, Ole Miss had lost 5 straight and State was 3-8.  I suppose I should consider it a miracle we even won.

The final game of Jackie Wayne Sherrill’s career at Mississippi State.  The 31-0 loss brought his career record in Starkville to 75-75-2 and completed the journey of his brilliant restoration of the State football program, followed by his burning of everything to the ground, then salting the earth upon which it sat.

It’s also important to note that had a driving rain not started in the first half and continued throughout the game, Jackie Wayne could have easily left Starkville with a 63-0 loss.

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