Ole Miss and Mississippi State will play for the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night this season for the first time since the 2003 season and this move is the latest example of each of the Magnolia State teams rising to a point of prominence.
Dan Mullen and Hugh Freeze are two of the youngest, brightest and more underrated coaches in the nation, but they get overshadowed by their SEC counterparts like Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier and Les Miles. The national audience that will get to witness these two rising programs will be a big opportunity to showcase the programs to a much bigger audience that may not be familiar with the rivalry.
The battle for the Golden Egg trophy may not be as historic or glamorous as some other great rivalries in the country, but these two teams and fan bases absolutely detest each other as much as any other two teams in any sport. The rivalry divides families throughout the state and the rivalry has only gotten better with both teams poised for continued success.
What Mullen has accomplished during his time in Starkville is nothing short of remarkable. I know the Rebels won’t want to admit it, but he had his team ranked No. 11 last year before tailing off at the end of the year, but has a 2-1 record in bowl games and has averaged eight wins a season the last three years. Eight wins at Mississippi State was considered a miraculous season before Mullen’s arrival, and now it’s the minimum expectation for a fan base that has sold out every game the last two seasons.
Freeze, in one year at Oxford, has quickly erased the memories of the end of Houston Nutt’s era and took a team that had won one game in the SEC the last two seasons before he was hired and won three this season and won the BBVA Compass Bowl. Oh yea, you may have heard about the historic recruiting class he had this past winter.
This game on Thanksgiving could be a trend that I hope continues and the spotlight the ESPN national audience provides will finally give fans outside of Mississippi and the southeast a chance to see just how far each of these two programs have come. This will be a big opportunity for recruits to see the Rebels and Bulldogs from coast to coast and should provide a number of memorable moments for fans of each team.
I can see it now. The Grove in Oxford or the Junction in Starkville hosting these games on Thanksgiving day, and each of those fan bases knows a thing or two about tailgating. The atmosphere and environment that is created on one of the biggest football watching days of the year will be a sight to behold.
Thanksgiving is one of the best days of the year and Ole Miss and Mississippi State playing in the Egg Bowl only makes it better. Ole Miss snapped the Bulldogs three-game winning streak in the rivalry last November, so you know the Bulldogs will be looking for revenge this season.
I’m ready for some turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, peach cobbler and some great football from the Rebels and Bulldogs.