One year ago, Ole Miss handed the boys from Starkville a proper ass-whoopin'. 45-0. Maybe you remember. We dominated every aspect of the game. We had more sacks than they had rushing yards. Significantly more. It was wonderful to watch, but we Rebels soon let the victory slip away into the realm of memory because we had better things to do...like expose Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl, get ready for the 2009 season, play 11 other teams before State, drink, buy a new Grove outfit, go to a real job, date beautiful women (or men). The Bulldogs, on the other hand, have certainly not forgotten. There are two reasons for this. 1.) We pounded their ass so hard they have to remember every time they sit down. 2.) For the Maroon and White, the Battle for the Golden Egg is their season.
Obviously last year's epic fail on the part of MSU cost the Walrus his job. Almost makes you wish we hadn't scored those last two TDs. Almost. Shortly after the
racist justified firing of Sly Croom (one of the 4 greatest coaches in SEC history according to SI, mind you), Dan "the Man" Mullen was hired. From day one he has embraced the State mentality that the Egg Bowl defines MSU. Everything else is secondary.
For this reason, Danny-boy has taken to not saying our name. Because, apparently, by not saying Ole Miss he can
ignore the fact that we own this rivalry and will destroy his team anger our fan base. We, the team up north, are shaking with fury. Furthermore, the constant motivation throughout the off-season wasn't "Let's get to a bowl this year" or "Aren't you tired of losing seasons" or "Just pretend your sister won't go out with you unless you get this last rep." Instead, it was us--the Ole Miss Rebels--and the embarrassment we caused them last November in Oxford. The locker room entry code was changed to 4500 (get it? like 45-00...the score), Egg Bowl photos now adorn the locker room, and coaches routinely yell about last year's game. I just love defining other people's existence.
And that's just it: we do define MSU's existence. Without them, Ole Miss goes on, continues to do what we always do (frustrate our fan base), and work on getting to a decent bowl game. But without us, I think State ceases to exist. State is merely the absence of Ole Miss in the same way that coldness is merely the absence of heat. As any physicist will tell you, heat exists, but cold doesn't--it's only definition is found in heat or the relative lack there of. State is nothing without the Rebels. Whether their season is a success or failure hinges on the outcome of Thanksgiving weekend. If their coach stays or goes depends on how he fares against the Red and Blue. It must truly be a frustrating existence considering the lopsided nature of the rivalry.
To some degree I am worried as I read the news reports about Dan "the Man" and his boys getting psyched up for this game. This is it, after all. The last 51 weeks have been building to this moment for them. Will they upset the Rebels? Will they finally win something other than a moral victory or game against Jackson State? Is revenge a strong enough motivator to overcome superior talent and coaching? Will the Rebs suffer a let down after the LSU victory? Will we fail to show up like at Auburn?
Those are all possibilities. Scary possibilities. Like Whiskey Wednesday, I too am a well-trained Rebel, and I, therefore, expect to be disappointed. With the Capital One Bowl ours to lose, I wouldn't be surprised if we did just that. That being said, I don't think it's going to happen. I think our boys have the right attitude. Coach Nutt said in his press conference on Monday that the players started focusing on State almost immediately after they hoisted the Magnolia Bowl trophy. (Notice, State fans, we started focusing on ya'll only the week of the game; not obsessing over ya'll since last year). That's good news. This game and rivalry mean something to our guys. They want to beat State. More than that, this game is important beyond the fact that it is MSU. A win virtually locks us into the our best bowl appearance in decades. Plus, Dex and the other seniors want to go out in style, and the rest of the team wants to help them do it. And maybe, just maybe, they're tired of hearing all the hot air coming out of Starkville. The Egg Bowl means a lot to the Rebels this year, but luckily, it doesn't mean everything.