Thanksgiving is a time for family, an opportunity to show gratitude, and to count one’s blessings. Unless you're from Mississippi, that is. Instead, Turkey Day is often when the Ole Miss Rebels and Mississippi State Bulldogs get together to reignite one of the fiercest feuds in all of college football, although this season it falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Mississippi State won in thrilling and controversial fashion last year, beating Ole Miss 21-20. The Rebels still lead the all-time series 62-48-6 (if you include a couple of forfeited victories by Mississippi State and a couple of vacated wins by Ole Miss). Obviously, any rivalry that dates back to 1901 will have plenty of history but here's a list of the 10 greatest games in this battle for Magnolia State bragging rights.
10. 1981: Ole Miss 21, Mississippi State 17
One of the most fantastic finishes in the history of the Egg Bowl also provided one of its biggest upsets. The 7-3 Mississippi State Bulldogs entered their annual clash with Ole Miss at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson ranked No. 7 in the country, which at the time was the highest ranking in school history. The Rebels, just 3-6-1, hadn’t won since Sept. 19. However, after Mississippi State kicked a field goal to take a 17-14 lead with less than a minute left in the game, Ole Miss drove down the field and (with the help of a controversial pass interference call) scored on a one-yard touchdown run to win with just two seconds left on the clock.
9. 1992: Ole Miss 17, Mississippi State 10
Two teams with winning records met in the first Egg Bowl in Oxford in 20 years. This matchup was a defensive struggle that resulted in 12 combined turnovers, and Ole Miss survived 11 offensive plays run by State inside the Rebels’ 11-yard line in the final four minutes of the game to win by a touchdown. Ole Miss finished the season with a five-game winning streak, culminating with a 13-0 victory over Air Force in the Liberty Bowl, which improved the Rebels’ record to 9-3. Mississippi State lost three in a row, ending the season with a 21-17 loss to North Carolina in the Peach Bowl.
8. 2007: Mississippi State 17, Ole Miss 14
Known as "The Comeback," Mississippi State trailed Ole Miss 14-0 midway through the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs made a key defensive stop on fourth down near midfield, then grabbed momentum and scored 17 unanswered points, capped by a 48-yard field goal by Adam Carlson with 12 seconds left in regulation. The loss dropped Ole Miss to 3-9 overall and 0-8 in SEC play, and head coach Ed Orgeron was fired.
7. 1962: Ole Miss 13, Mississippi State 6
Few games in Egg Bowl history have had national championship implications, but with a 13-6 victory in 1962, the No. 3 Ole Miss Rebels improved to 9-0 overall, won the SEC championship and earned a spot in the Sugar Bowl where they defeated Arkansas 17-13. Undefeated USC claimed the national title from the Associated Press, but the Rebels lay claim to a championship nonetheless. The 1962 season holds historic cultural significance as well, as it coincided with James Meredith’s enrollment at the University of Mississippi.
6. 1926: Ole Miss 7, Mississippi A&M 6
The teams fought on the field before the 1997 Egg Bowl, but the fans fought on the gridiron after the Rebels beat what was then-Mississippi A&M 7-6 way back in 1926 on a rain-soaked and muddy Scott Field in Starkville. The win by the Rebels snapped a streak of 13 consecutive losses to the then-Aggies. When the game was over, Ole Miss supporters rushed the field and brawled with locals who were defending their goalposts. The aftermath shocked both fan bases, and led the students from both schools to organize the trophy that would become known as the Golden Egg.
5. 1997: Ole Miss 15, Mississippi State 14
Tempers always run high between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and the two teams couldn’t wait until kickoff in 1997 before hitting one another, with a large fight breaking out at the 50-yard line during warm-ups. The game itself also was a battle, and Ole Miss scored a touchdown with 25 seconds left to trim Mississippi State’s lead to just one point at 14-13.
Instead of kicking the extra point to tie, Rebels head coach Tommy Tuberville opted to go for the win. Stewart Partridge connected with Corey Peterson for a dramatic two-point conversion and a 15-14 lead. An interception on the ensuing State drive sealed the victory and an Ole Miss bowl berth for the first time in five years.
4. 1983: Ole Miss 24, Mississippi State 23
Simply known as the "Immaculate Deflection," the 1983 Egg Bowl came down to a 27-yard field goal attempt. Mississippi State built an early 17-0 lead, but trailed 24-23 with 24 seconds left to play in Jackson. After a late fourth-quarter drive stalled for the Bulldogs, Artie Cosby connected on what appeared to be the game-winning kick. Instead, a powerful gust of wind knocked the ball short of the crossbar.
The 17-point Ole Miss comeback was the largest in Egg Bowl history, and capped a streak of five consecutive wins to end the regular season that clinched the first winning season for the Rebels since 1976 and secured a spot in a bowl game for the first time since ‘71.
3. 2013: Mississippi State 17, Ole Miss 10 (OT)
Dak Prescott will go down in history as the greatest quarterback in Mississippi State history in large part because of the success he had in 2014 and ‘15, but Prescott’s performance in the 2013 Egg Bowl made him a folk hero in Starkville.
Having missed the two previous games with an arm injury, Prescott didn’t start against the Rebels and didn’t even play in the first three quarters. With his team trailing 10-7 and struggling to move the football, Prescott convinced head coach Dan Mullen to put him in with about 11 minutes left in regulation. The sophomore led the Bulldogs on a 13-play, 59-yard drive that ended with a field goal to tie the game with 1:59 left. He then drove State into field goal range again on the following drive but Evan Sobiesk’s 39-yard miss sent the game to overtime.
In the extra period, Prescott scored on a three-yard touchdown on 4th-and-1 to give the Bulldogs a 17-10 lead, which held up after Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace fumbled a would-be touchdown run on the Rebels’ subsequent drive. The win gave Mississippi State a 6-6 record, ensuring a bowl game for a school-record fourth consecutive season.
2. 1999: Mississippi State 23, Ole Miss 20
The 1999 Egg Bowl, nicknamed "The Pick and the Kick," is considered by many to be the greatest in the game’s history because of the late comeback that lifted Mississippi State to victory, along with the high stakes involved.
Ole Miss traveled to Starkville with a 7-3 record and a No. 23 ranking in the AP Top 25 to face a No. 18 Mississippi State squad with an 8-2 overall record, but had lost back-to-back games to Alabama and Arkansas.
The Rebels built a 10-0 lead in the second quarter that grew to 20-6 before State stormed back to tie the game with 27 seconds left. Instead of settling for overtime, Ole Miss attempted to get the ball into field goal range. Rebels quarterback Romaro Miller threw downfield, but the Bulldogs’ Robert Bean deflected the pass and kicked it high in the air. Eugene Clinton secured the improbable interception and ran it deep into Ole Miss territory with just eight seconds on the clock. Clinton’s return set up a 43-yard, game-winning field goal by Scott Westerfield.
1. 2019: Mississippi State 21, Ole Miss 20
The most recent edition of the Egg Bowl was the wildest. The game itself was a classic with Mississippi State holding on to win 21-20 in the final seconds, but 2019 will go down in history — or infamy — for the fallout that eventually resulted in nearly 300 coaches changing jobs according to Max Olsen and Bruce Feldman of The Athletic.
The first and most obvious was Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke, whose Rebels scored on a two-yard touchdown pass from Matt Corral to Elijah Moore with just 0:04 on the clock. However, Moore was flagged for a celebration penalty when he dropped to all fours and simulated a dog urinating in the end zone, much like DK Metcalf did two years earlier. The timing couldn't have been worse as Luke Logan then failed to convert the subsequent 35-yard extra-point try. Ole Miss finished its season 4-8 overall and 2-6 in SEC play, and Luke was fired days later.
Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead also entered the game under a great deal of scrutiny, but survived to coach another day saying afterward "they'll have to drag my Yankee ass out of here." They, meaning the decision-makers in Starkville, did after the Bulldogs lost 38-28 to Louisville in the Music City Bowl to cap a disappointing 6-7 season, including a 3-5 mark in conference play.
Luke and Moorhead eventually gave way to Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach, respectively, unquestionably two of the biggest personalities in college football. Where will their first Egg Bowl clash rank all-time? We'll find out Saturday night in Oxford.