Every game in Rivalry Weekend is heated, but the Egg Bowl might be the only one in which both schools’ ADs feel compelled to release a joint statement discouraging uncivil fan behavior. An already wild rivalry had reached a boiling point amid Ole Miss’ bowl-banned, scandal-bound season, and Thanksgiving night, it bubbled over a little bit.
On the field, we had a dang pregame brawl during warm-ups...
So much for hugs folks. The Royal Rumble has begun in Starkville. Cooler heads prevailed for now. pic.twitter.com/dcSbT8fhJ3— Joel Coleman (@JoelTColeman) November 23, 2017
... and another staredown dust-up before kickoff:
It didn’t stop there.
Leo Lewis just walked towards the Ole Miss side of the field and blew a kiss in the direction of the Rebel players during warm-ups.— Robby Donoho III (@RobbyDonoho) November 23, 2017
Leo Lewis is, of course, the star MSU linebacker who’s made a hobby of trolling the Rebels on Twitter and is currently in the middle of the NCAA’s investigation into Ole Miss.
2. During the game
The game itself was a total wreck, with seven combined turnovers and 22 combined penalties. Things really got going again in the second half.
After Ole Miss receiver AJ Brown caught a long TD pass, the Starkville native added more fuel to the fire, declaring the hometown crowd to be his constituents:
A.J. Brown, Starkville native, after his second touchdown catch. "My city! My city!" pic.twitter.com/NWDyhzPc6A— Ben Garrett (@SpiritBen) November 24, 2017
The fan reaction included a bird:
A Starkville Chamber of Commerce welcome for AJ Brown pic.twitter.com/GM3zWcn5aE— [Escort 69] (@BunkiePerkins) November 24, 2017
Following that, Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf celebrated a long TD by peeing on the Bulldogs, a la Odell Beckham Jr.:
When Ole Miss defensive end Breeland Speaks recovered a Mississippi State fumble, he waved hello to (probably not) the camera or (presumably) the MSU crowd, but that’s not the best part.
Breeland Speaks recovered a fumble, and says “hi.” pic.twitter.com/Ee4i7Pb0wM— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) November 24, 2017
Later in the game, he got ejected on a crucial personal foul penalty for whapping a Bulldog in the face, and AGAIN WAVED TO THE CROWD AS HE WAS LEAVING.
Breeland Speaks after he was DQd. pic.twitter.com/2HUKqV91Vz— Antonio Morales (@AntonioCMorales) November 24, 2017
Even one of the most heartfelt moments, MSU starting QB Nick Fitzgerald being carted off with injury, still involved a middle finger, though apparently one meant with affection. Fitzgerald later clarified that it was a gesture of brotherhood toward backup Keytaon Thompson.
Where was the game’s Egg Bowl trophy throughout this? Exactly where it should be.
Strange place to store the Egg Bowl trophy in Starkville. Between a hot dog warmer and coffee pots. pic.twitter.com/yUyul65loE— Pat Smith (@patsmithradio) November 24, 2017
After Ole Miss’ victory, Rebels claimed the turf claimed for Oxford.
D.K. Metcalf planted the flag at midfield. pic.twitter.com/1dyE7sCMcH— Brian Scott Rippee (@bsrippee) November 24, 2017
And on social media, Ole Miss fans lived it up, naturally. Here’s a Rebel and Olympic gold medalist turning one of Lewis’ legendary Rebel-mocking tweets against him after his team lost:
Before I head to bed I want to give around of applause to my girl Karma .... Goodnight!!! pic.twitter.com/WO0jfALmfV— Brittney Reese (@DaLJBeast) November 24, 2017
This rivalry doesn’t have the most polite history, to say the least, and that’s just the way we like it.
In 1926 after a 7-6 Ole Miss win, the matchup ended in a brawl. From our friends at Red Cup Rebellion:
The Golden Egg was in fact born of violence. In 1926, Ole Miss students initiated a violent encounter with authorities and CLANGA fans as they tried to rip down the goalposts following a 7-6 victory over State. I’ll let Alex McDaniel take it from here:
“The postgame scuffle inspired a plan to award a trophy to the winning team each year “with the primary purpose of creating a better spirit between the two institutions and preventing any fistic encounters which may occur at the end of the game.”
“Though some accounts infer the trophy wasn’t called the Golden Egg until after it was made and fans realized it looked more like an egg than a football, that was merely a coincidence.”
“Ironically (and fittingly), the Battle for the Golden Egg, born from the desire to find common ground and avoid future fights, has evolved into one of the nastiest rivalries in college sports.”
That bad blood between these two fan bases is very much alive, as my colleague Steven Godfrey reminded us in 2013:
But on Egg Bowl week it's still suitable to boil everything down to the rednecks vs. the country club.
Before the game, you notice how willing the participants are to play to their own stereotypes.
This is not the Iron Bowl. There are no national titles at stake. There haven't been since the early 1960s. The Egg Bowl is a potent distillation of Mississippi as compared to its neighboring Southern cultures, a stronger high and a harsher burn.
Live in Mississippi long enough with an open ear and you can learn to hate everybody. Trust me.
You're either a red-dirt, hillbilly dipshit, kin to farming families outside Tupelo (and a cheater) or a racist, fork-tongued Jackson lawyer (and a cheater). And tonight everybody's a damn cheater, a "cheeeetin son of a bitch" precisely, as it echoes through the stands.
I've often wondered out loud around Oxford and Starkville that if everybody's cheating so damn much, is anybody really cheating? The answer around Thanksgiving week is, "yeah, those sons of bitches are."