They call it the Egg Bowl, but the annual Mississippi State–Ole Miss football game has nothing to do with the state’s agricultural prowess. According to Department of Agriculture data, Iowa is actually the top producer of eggs in the United States (15%), followed by Ohio and Indiana (both 9%). Mississippi doesn’t even get a mention in this “Egg-STAT-ic” post from 2021.
So what’s the deal with the nickname? Well, it’s what happens when fans need something shiny to distract them from thoughts of malice and a newspaper headline writer decides to take matters into his own hands.
Let’s start with the trophy and the original nickname. Although the rivalry dates back to 1901 — State won the first game, Ole Miss the second — there was no postgame prize handed out until 1927. And the reason for the change was practical: Officials needed something to hold spectators’ attention once the game was over. A year earlier, a massive brawl had broken out among the fan bases. So both student bodies, in an effort to “foster clean sportsmanship,” commissioned a trophy to be called “The Golden Egg.” It was gold and glossy and beautiful … and because it was more obtuse than the common football and lacked any raised edges to mimic the stitching of a football, it looked exactly like a golden egg.
Fast-forward half a century and the game-day edition of The Clarion-Ledger in 1978. Executive editor Tom Patterson — perhaps tired of an unnecessarily wordy nickname, perhaps intent on a certain style of pun — wrote the headline, “Egg Bowl Is Up For Scramble.” And the Egg Bowl evolved from shorthand to a sort of official-unofficial nickname that both schools use interchangeably with The Battle for the Golden Egg.
But this is all backstory. They could call it The Battle for the Fuzzy Soybean (the state’s top agricultural export) and it would still be compelling. Although Alabama-Auburn, Michigan-Ohio State and Florida-Florida State might have more national relevance in terms of their impact on the national championship race, no rivalry week game produces more drama than Mississippi State-Ole Miss. (One SEC power broker once told ESPN’s Mark Schlabach that the rivalry “makes Ohio State-Michigan and Auburn-Alabama look like Sunday school.”) The first time they played, there was a one-hour delay because Ole Miss accused State of playing nonstudents.
There have been plenty of fights and more than enough pettiness shared between the two schools. When Dan Mullen was still the head coach of the Bulldogs, he refused to call the Rebs by their name. Instead, he simply referred to “The School Up North” in interviews. In-house game schedules made use of the slight, subbing in T.S.U.N. for Ole Miss.
The two current coaches are actually quite chummy these days, but the two programs can’t help but feud. They can’t even agree on basic facts. Although they both cite Ole Miss as the leader in the series with a record of 64-48-6, Mississippi State says the game has been played on Thanksgiving 27 times and Ole Miss puts the number at 30.
Whatever record book you subscribe to, the rivalry will be played for the 119th time this Thanksgiving (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). To get you ready, here are some of the most interesting games in Egg Bowl history.
1983: The Immaculate Deflection
Sometimes nicknames are misleading. The “Immaculate Deflection” wasn’t really a deflection at all — unless you believe in cosmic events. Mississippi State, which had surrendered a 17-0 lead and trailed 24-23 with 24 seconds left to play, had a game-winning field goal within its grasp. Artie Crosby attempted the 27-yard kick and it looked to be well on its way — good height, good line, good everything. State fans started celebrating. But then the ball just stopped at its apex. It was as if Mother Nature swatted it down herself, the strong wind gust sending the ball to the far left of the goalposts.
Mississippi State coach Emory Bellard marveled, “I’ve never seen a kick come backwards in my years of coaching. It was like something reached down and stopped the ball in flight.”
1999: The pick and the kick
This game might be the best in the rivalry’s history. It was one of those rare occasions when both schools were ranked: Ole Miss 23rd, Mississippi State 18th. The Rebs jumped out to a 20-6 lead, but the Bulldogs fought back to tie the game with only 27 seconds remaining.
And rather than play for overtime on the road, Ole Miss had Romaro Miller air it out downfield. Except Robert Bean deflected the pass and kicked it up in the air. Eugene Clinton got under it and caught the interception around the 50-yard line and ran the ball back to the 27 with 8 seconds left. Scott Westerfield then connected on the 44-yard game-winning field goal. Once Ole Miss went out of bounds on the kickoff return, fans rushed the field.
2013: Dak announces his arrival
Legends are made in rivalry games. Before Dak Prescott led Mississippi State to the No. 1 ranking in 2014 and before he set school records on his way to becoming a fourth-round draft pick a year later, he was a sophomore in his first season as a starter, dealing with an arm injury that knocked him out of the two games before the Egg Bowl. And for the first three quarters against Ole Miss, he stood on the sideline.
But, with the Bulldogs trailing by a field goal with 11 minutes left, Prescott persuaded Mullen to let him in the game. After knocking off the rust during his first drive, he drove the offense 59 yards on 13 plays to secure a game-tying field goal. Then, in overtime, he ran for the winning touchdown.
2019: The costly dog pee penalty
Mississippi State escapes with a 21-20 victory after Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore was penalized for celebrating a touchdown by pretending to urinate like a dog and the Rebels missed the ensuing extra point.
First, there needs to be context about the Egg Bowl to end all Egg Bowls. Because if you thought the 2019 game was the first time an Ole Miss player faked urinating on Mississippi State’s field, you’d be wrong. Two years earlier, after a pregame scuffle, DK Metcalf scored a touchdown late in the third quarter, hiked his leg to mimic a dog peeing and incurred a 15-yard penalty.
And just to make sure the fire was still burning before the return trip to Starkville, let’s not forget A.J. Brown’s would-be touchdown at the end of a third-quarter blowout in Oxford and the pushing and shoving that turned into a bench-clearing brawl. To punctuate the lack of civility, referees assessed a penalty to every player on both teams.
OK, now on to 2019. There have been wild plays and wild finishes throughout Egg Bowl history, but no game has produced more fireworks than the one in 2019. After playing to a tie in the first half, the Bulldogs went ahead on a Garrett Shrader 5-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. And it looked as if that was that as Ole Miss punted twice and threw an interception in the fourth quarter. But then, with 2 minutes left, Matt Corral, who had come on in relief of starter John Rhys Plumlee, drove the Rebs 80 yards on 11 plays. On the 2-yard line with only 4 seconds remaining, Corral found Elijah Moore in the end zone for what looked like the tying score. Except Moore repeated Metcalf’s antics, hiked his leg right in front of a referee and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. The touchdown held, but you can guess what happened next. Pushed back 15 yards from the penalty, Luke Logan missed the point after attempt and State won.
In a game in which both coaches were on the hot seat, neither survived. Ole Miss fired Matt Luke days later and replaced him with headline-grabbing Lane Kiffin. Not to be outdone, Mississippi State fired Joe Moorhead and got a big name of its own in Mike Leach.
796 goals and counting: The Alex Ovechkin chase to 800 tracker
Ovi is third on the all-time NHL goals list, behind Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801). The next highest active player on the list is Sidney Crosby, at No. 35 with 532 goals. With his 787th goal, Ovechkin set the record for most goals scored with the same franchise. With goal No. 793, he passed Gretzky for the most goals scored on the road for a career (403).
Follow along here as Ovi scores his way up the record books, including a schedule of upcoming games and highlight videos of goals No. 787 and beyond.
The NHL’s top 10 in career goals
1. Wayne Gretzky (894)
2. Gordie Howe (801)
3. Alex Ovechkin (796)
4. Jaromir Jagr (766)
5. Brett Hull (741)
6. Marcel Dionne (731)
7. Phil Esposito (717)
8. Mike Gartner (708)
9. Mark Messier (694)
10. Steve Yzerman (692)
Goal No. 796
At 19:56 of the third period against the Seattle Kraken, Ovechkin fired a shot into an empty net to put him four goals away from 800. The empty-net goal was assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson.
Goals No. 794 and 795
With the Capitals up 2-1 against the Philadelphia Flyers, Ovechkin was on the ice to close out the game — and scored two empty-net goals! The first was assisted by Anthony Mantha and John Carlson, while the second was assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Conor Sheary.
Alex Ovechkin tallies twice on an empty net and now has 795 career goals.
Goals No. 792 and 793
Ovechkin scored two goals in the first period of the Capitals’ matchup against the Vancouver Canucks — the first unassisted and the second with help from Dylan Strome and Anthony Mantha. Ovechkin has now passed Wayne Gretzky for most goals all time on the road.
Alex Ovechkin slaps in his second goal of the game to put the Capitals up 2-0 against the Canucks.
Alex Ovechkin jumps on the loose puck and notches his 792nd career goal vs. the Canucks.
Goal No. 791
Alex Ovechkin tallies goal for Capitals on the power play
Goal No. 790
Alex Ovechkin wins it for the Capitals with this clutch slap shot in overtime vs. the Flyers.
Goal No. 789
Alex Ovechkin nets goal vs. Blues
Goal No. 788
Alex Ovechkin scores on the power play for Capitals
Goal No. 787
With his goal at 8:55 of the second period — a power-play tally assisted by Trevor van Riemsdyk and Anthony Mantha — Ovechkin broke Gordie Howe’s record for most goals scored by a player with a single franchise:
Alex Ovechkin scores his 787th career goal to break Gordie Howe’s record of most goals with one team.
Note: All games not on ESPN, TNT or NHL Network are available via NHL Power Play, which is included in an ESPN+ subscription (local blackout restrictions apply).
Trainer Servis pleads guilty to drugging his horses
NEW YORK — Trainer Jason Servis, whose horse Maximum Security was the 3-year-old champion in 2019, pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges involving a widespread scheme to drug horses.
The 65-year-old New Jersey-based trainer faces four years in prison when he is sentenced next May in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. He was the last defendant facing charges in the scheme, and now 23 of the 31 individuals charged have pleaded guilty.
Servis pleaded guilty in connection with his role in the distribution of adulterated and misbranded drugs intended for use on horses in his stable.
“Servis’ conduct represents corruption at the highest levels of the racehorse industry,” Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “As a licensed racehorse trainer, Servis was bound to protect the horses under his care and to comply with racing rules designed to ensure the safety and well-being of horses and protect the integrity of the sport.”
Servis’ attorney, Rita Glavin, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Servis was charged in 2020 after a wide-ranging investigation into doping in the horse racing industry. Racing authorities suspended his trainer’s license.
Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for interference during the running of the race. The colt finished first in the $10 million Saudi Cup shortly before Servis’ arrest in March 2020. Saudi officials later withheld the winner’s share of the purse, citing Servis’ arrest and indictment.
“I don’t take any solace in other peoples misery, actually quite the opposite I feel some empathy for them,” Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion tweeted, “but the reality is that those of us who were beaten by Jason Service’s (sic) horses have little to show for it other than losing money, owners and horses due to his success.”
Another New Jersey-based trainer, Jorge Navarro, is serving a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty a year ago. Eleven of the defendants were trainers and seven were veterinarians.
Servis is the brother of trainer John Servis, who trained Smarty Jones to victories in the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness before the colt lost his Triple Crown bid in the Belmont.
‘I’m totally speechless’: Inside the $1.6 billion spending spree that rocked MLB’s winter meetings
SAN DIEGO — The industry’s executives and agents filed out of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in clusters late Wednesday afternoon, leaving behind the madness of an event that had somehow exceeded lofty expectations of extravagance. Major League Baseball’s winter meetings, back for the first time in three years, had seen money flow and precedents buckle — but one final stunner remained. It came Wednesday night, while most of the sport’s movers and shakers sat inside airplanes bound for their respective home cities. The San Diego Padres, a midmarket team that already possessed enviable infield depth and a massive payroll, agreed on an 11-year, $280 million contract with Xander Bogaerts, one of the premier shortstops on the free agent market. A text message from a rival general manager said it all:
Holy s—. I’m totally speechless.
From the start of Monday to the end of Wednesday, 20 major league free agents agreed to contracts totaling nearly $1.6 billion. The vast majority did so while outshooting their projections. And if there was one phrase that could encapsulate the week’s event, it was that one — muttered so often by front-office members, agents, scouts, coaches and media members that it might as well have been part of the branding. The winter meetings, presented by Holy S—.
This offseason, signs of a spending spree had come early. One day after the World Series ended, the New York Mets brought back Edwin Diaz on a five-year, $102 million deal that stood as the richest ever for a reliever. Three days later, Robert Suarez and Rafael Montero — two non-closing relievers with minimal major league dominance in their track records — secured multiyear deals totaling $80.5 million from the Padres and the Houston Astros, respectively. Four days after Thanksgiving, Jose Abreu, who will be 36 next month, received three guaranteed years at an annual rate of nearly $20 million from the Astros. Jacob deGrom, a 34-year-old right-hander who accumulated 156⅓ innings the past two seasons, followed by garnering a five-year, $185 million contract from the Texas Rangers on Dec. 2 — a deal the industry’s executives were still stunned by when they arrived for the winter meetings a couple of nights later.
It was only an appetizer.
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