Latest Team Rankings
Free Rivals Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
November 25, 2013
Thursday's Egg Bowl Might be Biggest Yet
When Thursday night (finally) gets here, a lot of us will be looking at the game as an opportunity for MSU to get the Egg Bowl trophy back in Starkville and a bowl game or Ole Miss winning two-straight in the series. In reality, it goes much further than those things.
This could, quite possibly, be the biggest Egg Bowl in MSU's long history of football. Yes, I know, there have been times where implications were higher for the Bulldogs as they were in 1998 when State clinched their only SEC Western division championship. However, I think there's a valid argument that this game holds much more weight than any game in series history and I'll explain why.
Dan Mullen came to MSU in 2009 and promised that the Bulldogs would win the state of Mississippi. For the first three years, he was pretty spot on in that prediction before he made remarks that the Bulldogs would "never lose to that team again" following the eight-point victory in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in 2010. He cruised to victory in 2011, but then things changed. Hugh Freeze came to Ole Miss last season and immediately made the Egg Bowl a priority for Ole Miss again. MSU seemed over confident and lackadaisical last season while the Rebels seemed inspired, prepared and generally ticked off. They drug MSU across the field that night and clinched a bowl game just a year after winning no SEC ball games and just two games overall.
After the Rebels hit the recruiting trail and nabbed the best class in school history, that three-game series winning streak seemed to completely vaporize for the Bulldogs. Enter this season. The Bulldogs faced a daunting schedule with a young roster and this was pegged, by most, to be the deciding game for bowl eligibility even in the preseason. Things turned out mostly as predicted and that's the exact scenario we will see on Thanksgiving night.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, the Bulldogs and Rebels finally get their game back on turkey day for the first time in 10 years. Many of us remember the incredible ball games that we all watched in the late 90's and 2000's. Eating turkey and dressing and heading to a frigid, and sometimes wet, stadium to cheer your respective teams had become almost more of a tradition than the holiday itself. Having the game back on Thanksgiving and on the Worldwide Leader again is more than enough to make this a big game this season.
But what really sets this game apart from most in the past is the separation the coaches can have with a win. Freeze can come in to Davis Wade and knock down the Bulldogs in front of a raucous crowd, showcasing his young stars and show recruits in the state that his program is the one to watch moving forward.
For Mullen, the stakes are much higher. Freeze had his breakthrough in recruiting with a number two class overall. Mullen has taken a different approach with a more evaluation and development. He's molded some awfully good players that were underrated or over looked, but next season is an opportunity for the fifth-year coach to get one of his best classes yet. A key cog in the situation is just winning Thursday night.
Mullen can take that win on the road to in-state recruits and show the group that he's won four out of five games against the Rebels, something that hasn't been done in 60 years. He can also take four-consecutive bowl trips with him, something that has never been done. He can also use the obvious selling point of a newly renovated Davis Wade Stadium.
So what's on the line for the Bulldogs on Thursday night? A whole lot of future implications. Fans will go throughout the week not having much of a clue what will happen at quarterback for MSU with Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott both hobbled from taking their fair share of beatings by opposing SEC defenses. Regardless of who is behind center on Thursday,it's going to be a whole lot of fun in Starkville.
Mississippi State NEWS