By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
A Mississippi Thanksgiving tradition is back.
For the first time in 10 years, the Egg Bowl – the annual football battle between rivals Ole Miss and Mississippi State – will be played on Thanksgiving this season. The Rebels and Bulldogs will meet Nov. 28 in Starkville, with ESPN broadcasting the game at 6:30 p.m.
According to MSU, the teams have met on Thanksgiving 20 times, including every year from 1998 through 2003. MSU and Ole Miss split those six games.
MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin said ESPN, which has a multi-billion dollar TV rights deal with the SEC, approached him about a month ago with the idea of moving the game. It’s something Stricklin has wanted to see happen.
“It’s such a great exposure opportunity, and so many other benefits to playing that game on Thanksgiving night. It worked out this year,” Stricklin said.
Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork could not be reached for comment.
Stricklin would like to see the Egg Bowl remain on Thanksgiving, but ESPN spokesman Mike Humes said nothing has been determined for 2014 or beyond.
“Every game date and time is scheduled yearly, so no game is guaranteed a set day, time and network,” Humes said. “This one worked well for us, the conference, and the schools for 2013.”
The Bulldogs and Rebels have met 109 times on the football field, with the latter holding a 61-42-6 advantage. The Golden Egg trophy was introduced in 1927.
Ole Miss won last year’s meeting in Oxford, 41-24, to snap a three-game losing streak to MSU. The win made the Rebels, in their first year under coach Hugh Freeze, bowl-eligible for the first time since 2009.
“I think it’s great for this storied rivalry to return to Thanksgiving Day,” Freeze said. “There were so many memorable moments from our meetings on that holiday in the past, and I hope to see a big Rebel turnout in Starkville this year.”
MSU has been to three consecutive bowl games and is 3-1 in the Egg Bowl under coach Dan Mullen.
“This is always, without question, the biggest game of the season for us,” Mullen said. “Playing on Thanksgiving night allows a national audience to see how important this game is in our state.”