Battle For The Golden Egg

The 2015 Ole Miss-Mississippi State matchup will be the 112th meeting between the two schools and the 86th Egg Bowl. Ole Miss holds a 62-43-6 advantage in the all-time series dating back to 1901, and the Rebels hold a 56-26-5 edge in the "Egg Bowl." The following is the background as to how the Ole Miss-Mississippi State football game came to be known as the "Battle of the Golden Egg" or even "The Egg Bowl."  Many of the excerpts are reprinted from the book "Mississippi Mayhem," written by WIlliam Banner, III.

Egg Bowl History

Up until the 1926 meeting in Starkville, Ole Miss had only claimed five victories in the previous 23 football contests between the Rebels and Bulldogs.  Thus, when Ole Miss claimed a 7-6 victory over then Mississippi A&M College, a celebration was due at Scott Field after that '26 contest.

Oddly, huge roars went up from both sides at the final whistle, not just from the Ole Miss stands.  While the A&M players walked slowly off the field with heads bowed, wrote one newsman, the Maroon student section stood and sang the alma mater.

But on the east side, pandemonium.  Well wishers rushed "like madmen onto the field," Webb Burke said in his 1957 interview.  Some fans made a dash for the goal posts.  Irate Aggie supporters took after the ambitious Ole Miss group with cane bottom chairs, and fights broke out. The mayhem continued until most of the chairs were splintered.

As explained by the Reveille, A&M yearbook, "A few chairs had to be sacrificed over the heads of these to persuade them that was entirely the wrong attitude."

As described in a story for the Commercial Appeal by Ben Hilbun, who one day would become president of the Starkville school, "The phantom of victory, that for thirteen years eluded Ole Miss, returned to the bearded Berserkers ... and they won over A&M, their traditional rivals, 7 to 6."  Ole Miss students fought for the goal posts, he continued, "but were restrained."

Ole Miss fans couldn't believe their victory.  Through all their 13 defeats since 1910 (they did not play in 1912, 1913 and 1914) they had only scored in three games, counted just 33 points to A&M's 327, an average of 25-3.

Injuries to players were expected.  But not to spectators.  Ole Miss and A&M students, shocked by the battle that erupted after the game, vowed that it must not happen again.

The result was the Golden Egg, a trophy to cool the heat of battle, instituted the following season by joint agreement of the two student bodies.

Meanwhile, "The Battle of Starkville" continued in student newspapers.  The Reflector denounced other newspaper stories complimenting the clean play, especially that of Ole Miss.  The Aggie writers thought the Ole Miss players used some unfair tactics.  The Mississippian asked, "Why 'gripe,' ye Aggie Scribe? Wait til 'next year'."

The Reflector described the post-game battle.  Only a band of "hoodlums," a writer declared, would swarm onto a field of victory to secure souvenirs.  The Mississippian replied that the Aggie chair brigade which defended the goal posts "came to the field with malice aforethought ... with the intent of staging a 'free for all' ..."

The Golden Egg was first proposed by members of Sigma Iota, an Ole Miss honorary society.  As thoughts of last year's game, Sigma Iota proposed that a trophy be awarded in a dignified ceremony designed to calm excited fans.  One proposal that was rejected was to send the goal posts to the winning side each year.

A&M approved the suggestion of an award, and Ole Miss, two weeks before the game, officially added its approval.  The trophy, to be called "The Golden Egg", would be a regulation-size gold-plated football mounted on a pedestal.  Costs of approximately $250 would be shared by both schools.  Ole Miss students held a tag day to raise funds.

The joint resolution of the two student bodies declared they agreed on the trophy "in order to effect a better understanding in athletic relations, to foster clean sportsmanship, and to promote a lasting tradition..."

A brand-new series between the University of Mississippi and Mississippi A&M College began on Thanksgiving Day, 1927; the first Battle of the Golden Egg.

Of course, it was the Ole Miss-A&M slugfest, played before a crowd of 14,000 for the first possession of the gold football which was to become symbolic of supremacy in this annual feud-battle.

It was actually the 25th meeting of the two combatants.  And for the second time in four years it was Push versus Pass, a heavier line versus a lighter passing attack.  And once again the Pushers prevailed, except this time the pushing team was Ole Miss.  The score was 20-12.

Purser Hewitt of the Clarion-Ledger described it best:  "On the sidelines a band garbed in red and blue played 'Give 'em Hell, Mississippi' and on the gridiron a team wearing the same colors did that very thing..."

Unlike last year's brawl ending, the 1927 game closed with a highly dignified ceremony, the first presentation of the Golden Egg.  As previously agreed in the inception of the egg, the schools first sang their alma maters, Ole Miss, as winner, sang first.  The captains of the two teams, presidents of the two student bodies and the heads of the two schools met in the center of the field.  B.M. Walker, president of A&M, presented the trophy to Alfred Hume, chancellor of the University, who turned it over to Ole Miss captain Applewhite.

The Mississippian, Ole Miss' student newspaper, reported "sincere handshaking" among players of both teams.  And, "Throughout the day not a single demonstration of violence was committed..."

Captain Applewhite, proudly holding the Golden Egg, was carried from the field on the shoulders of "a score of students."

The Egg is one of the most treasured possessions of either school.  It is engraved with the score of each year's game and stands in a place of honor.  When a tie occurred, the previous year's winner kept it for the first half of the year, then it went to the other school.

The Ole Miss-Mississippi State series took on a new twist in 1978, a season which saw the Rebels 4-6 and the Bulldogs 6-4 heading into the season finale.  As Steve Doyle of the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger reported in the Nov. 20 edition, "In a year in which neither team will be remembered, the Battle of the Golden Egg is a bowl game.  Intense, heated, unbelievable in its lore, this one is for supremacy of the season.  Bragging rights, recruiting edges and sheer pride are the guts of it.  Every cliche you've ever heard about a single game applies to it."

A year earlier, the Clarion-Ledger headline on game day had been "Egg Bowl Is Up For Scramble" and the following day it was "Egg Bowl '77: State 18, Ole Miss 14."  In 1978, with both teams apparently out of the bowl picture, Executive Sports Editor Tom Patterson decided to do something extra to spice up coverage of the annual grudge match, instructing his staff to follow the "Egg Bowl" theme throughout the week.  The result was an award winning special section on Sunday, which recounted in great detail the Rebels' stunning 27-7 victory over the highly-favored Bulldogs.  In that game, John Fourcade made his first start at quarterback to become the first Ole Miss freshman since 1945 to receive the starting nod at the signal-caller slot.  The special section was a big success and the die was cast.  Patterson's idea, for the most part, has been continued by the paper since 1978.  Although it's officially the "Battle of the Golden Egg," most members of the media now refer to the annual bloodletting simply as the "Egg Bowl."
In one of the series' most memorable battles, Ole Miss claimed a pulsating 24-23 victory over Mississippi State in Jackson, but it took some heroics on the part of the Rebels and a 40 miles-per-hour crosswind  to decide the outcome. Down 17-0, Ole Miss got on the board when Timmy Moffett returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown with 1:21 remaining in the first half. However, the Bulldogs added to their lead after the break, and the Rebels found themselves trailing 23-7 to start the fourth quarter. With the wind now at its back, Ole Miss utilized two fumble recoveries and an interception to take a late 24-23 advantage. But State made one last try and moved the ball to the Rebel 10 yardline with 24 seconds left. On fourth down, MSU kicker Artie Cosby attempted a 27-yard field goal, but as true as it was between the uprights, the ball never got there as the wind just slapped it down to give Ole Miss its first on-the-field winning season in eight years at 6-5 and a berth in the Independence Bowl.

"The Battle of the Golden Egg" returned to campus in 1991 as Mississippi State hosted Ole Miss in Starkville.  It marked the first on-campus meeting between the two teams since 1972.  Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford was the site of the 1992 game, which Ole Miss won, 17-10 thanks to a thrilling goal-line stand.  The series continues to rotate between campus sites.

Ole Miss rode a school-record rushing performance and a stingy second-half deficit to a 13-10 victory over Mississippi State to regain the Egg Bowl Trophy. The win gave the Rebels a winning season and head coach Tommy Tuberville a triumph over the school's biggest rival in his first Egg Bowl game. Dou Innocent rushed for a record 242 yards on 39 carries to help the Rebels overcome an early 10-0 deficit. The Bulldogs never entered Ole Miss territory in the second half.

The 1997 contest provided another close contest and perhaps the most exciting finish ever in the series. Stewart Patridge hit Andre Rone for a 10-yard TD pass with 25 seconds left and then found Cory Peterson over the middle on the two-point conversion attempt to give the Rebels a 15-14 win over Mississippi State.  The win propelled the Rebels to their first bowl game since the 1992 Liberty Bowl when they were rewarded with an invite to the inaugural Ford Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Mich.

Running back Deuce McAllister rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another to lead Ole Miss to a 45-30 victory on Thanksgiving Night. With Senior Night being celebrated at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, McAllister hooked up with fellow fourth-year Rebel Romaro Miller on a 20-yard halfback option TD toss. McAllister finished with 121 yards rushing on 24 carries, while Miller threw for 127 yards and ran for another 60. The win returned the Golden Egg to Oxford after a two-year absence.

Eli Manning passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Rebels to a 31-0 shutout win in his final regular-season collegiate game. The Ole Miss defense held the Bulldogs to only 91 yards passing and picked off one Mississippi State pass in Jackie Sherrill's final game as head coach on the rainy evening in Starkville. The win propelled the Rebels to the Cotton Bowl and their first 10 win season since 1971. The game was also the final of six straight Egg Bowls (1998-2003) played on Thanksgiving and televised nationally by ESPN.

Jevan Snead threw for 213 yards and four touchdowns and Greg Hardy had three of Ole Miss' school-record 11 sacks, as the Rebels beat Mississippi State 45-0 in the most lopsided Egg Bowl in 37 years. The Rebels finished with a school-record minus-64 rushing yards allowed and 14 tackles for loss. Defensive end Hardy and tackle Peria Jerry led the charge. Jerry had four tackles for loss, including two sacks. Fellow tackle Jerrell Powe finished with 1 1/2 sacks, two tackles for loss and an interception.

Paced by a three-touchdown performance from wide receiver Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss defeated No. 24 Mississippi State, 41-24. Moncrief had seven catches for a career-high 173 yards, the fourth-most in a single game in Ole Miss history. Quarterback Bo Wallace threw five touchdowns on the night. The Egg Bowl win propelled Ole Miss to its first bowl berth in three years and provided momentum that later saw the Rebels earn a BBVA Compass Bowl victory over Pitt in January and land the best signing class in school history the next month.

Bo Wallace passed for 296 yards, Evan Engram had a career-high 176 receiving yards and Jaylen Walton rushed for a career-high 148 yards to lead the No. 18 Rebels to a 31-17 win over No. 4 Mississippi State. Of his 14 carries, none were bigger than a highlight-reel 91-yard touchdown run that proved to be the game-winning score for the Rebels. The Egg Bowl win capped a 9-3 regular season for the Rebels and earned them a berth in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

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