2. There was little at stake. This game mattered not in the landscape of 2018 college football, and perhaps because of that fact, it was ugly. CLANGA had already locked into a bowl game, while Ole Miss was playing for literally nothing. — no bowl game, no postseason. Like last season, the Rebels were playing for capital case Honor, or if only for one another. Individuals like A.J. Brown, DaMarkus Lodge, and Jordan Ta’amu were playing for NFL draft stock, sure, but in the mega-verse of CFB 2018, there was nothing to be gained or lost for either side on Thanksgiving night in Oxford.
That’s why this game matters so much, y’see.
3. To say that the game mattered not applies really to those outside the state of Mississippi. The game meant a great deal to those who have, who are, who will funnel through Oxford or Starkville someday hence or thence. Someday, it has or will mean a lot, especially if it remains annually scheduled as the only major college football event going down on Thanksgiving night. Even to those outside the state of Mississippi, the Egg Bowl is never not interesting, and they always kick off right after dinner’s over, after all.
4. But more broadly, though. Ole Miss played what was given to them in 2018, and they played bad with a deck stacked against them to boot. TAMU, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State. Two of those four were exposed and highly beatable at the time of their meeting, and the Rebs lost thrice. A macrocosm of the microcosm: it was there for the taking, and the Landsharks didn’t take it.
Nor was the 35-3 beatdown all that unexpected in this year’s Egg Bowl. In point of fact, the loss could have been a lot worse. State was fielding perhaps their best defense in program history, and the Bulldogs’ run-first offensive game plan was the exact thing that rolled right over Ole Miss’ defensive contain all year. When viewed from that distance, 35-3 feels like a mercy.
The 2018 Egg Bowl was Ole Miss’ worst margin of loss on the season to a team not named Alabama.
5. The 2018 Egg Bowl fight wasn’t caused by any one player from either side. The fight was caused because Mississippi is a small, hot place and these players have probably fought each other before in high school, AND there’ve been some recent NCAA, um, things that have snarled up the love between Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
The fight was because these two teams don’t like each other at all, and for that reason 158 personal fouls were issued on a single play. Incredible.
6. Matt Corral and A.J. Brown have since earned public rebukes from SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, though they were not ejected in the moment. Some sundry other ex post facto disciplinary language has issued out of the SEC office as well, but on Matty and A.J., on-field penalties would have been entirely understandable. You were certainly not alone in standing up screaming “MATT NO MATT NO MATT WHAT ARE YOU DOING MATT NO” when Corral went barreling into the teeth of CLANGA’s secondary, fists bared.
7. That there — the fight, the “fracas” in the Commissioner’s language, which fits fine — was about much more than just disliking how one’s opponent finished out a play beyond the whistle, which appears to be the kernel of A.J.’s confrontation with the entire personnel of State’s defensive second level.
The fight was frustration made action from emotion. The better side of a decade under the NCAA’s thumb. Months, years of hearings and capital case Letters and Notifications. The palace intrigue of Leo Lewis giving the NCAA evidence against Ole Miss. The season’s losses, with South Carolina and Vanderbilt really sticking in the Ole Miss’ collective craw. The win in CLANGA’s house just a year ago, with its attendant gloating and pluming. The night’s officiating. The officiating a week before.
Just the sheer shit of it all, and on the Rebs’ home turf. That the fight didn’t happen sooner in the proceedings is frankly surprising. That the fight exploded with the intensity it did is not.
8. We’re not excusing anyone’s behavior here. It was ugly and infuriating to watch for fans on either side of this game. CLANGA lost three defenders in one fell-swoop. What’s further maddening and absurd about the whole affair is that the play resulting in the dustup didn’t even happen. Yes: 158 personal fouls handed out on a play that won’t even make it into the CFB historical register, because the Rebs couldn’t get the damn snap off in time. Delay of game, delay of broadcast, delay of rivalry.
Next year should be fun.