Usually, when the unrelenting march of time is acknowledged, it’s because you’re astonished over the speed at which time has passed. For example, I instinctively think 2008 was like 4 or 5 years ago and not [checks notes] 15 years ago (!!!).
However, there are times when you appreciate the speed, such as the start of June 2023 when zero Ole Miss-related things are going on. Earlier this month, I documented there were 92 days until Ole Miss football started and now, POOF, we’re already down to 80.
To help us pass the time until we’re into the meaty part of the 70s, I want to look at 8 moments from Ole Miss football in the 1980s, which was not exactly a real good time to be a Rebel fan.
But first, as a tribute to the last post of remembering some guys, let’s remember some guys who wore number 80.
- Al Rice
- Jonathan Hess
- Michael Howard
- Wesley Walls
- Gerald Harris
Harris, who I do not remember at all in the 2008 regular season, caught two touchdown passes in the first Cotton Bowl of the FIFTY FIFTY FIFTY FIFTY YEARS speech.
The second of which was the ol’ left tackle eligible play Houston Nutt cooked up when he could still cook up plays.
For the record, those touchdown receptions were 66.7 percent of his touchdown receptions for the season.
Now, let’s move to the 8 happenings in the decade that gave us Predator, Appetite for Destruction, and the finest film ever made about high school students becoming elite killers of invading Russian and Cuban soldiers - Red Dawn.
God Loves Ole Miss or Hates Mississippi State
In 1983, the Rebels and Bulldogs staggered into the Egg Bowl at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson. Ole Miss sat at 5-5, needing a win to secure bowl eligibility (later Ole Miss would get an additional win thanks to a Tulane forfeit from earlier in the season), while Mississippi State checked in at 3-7 and no hope of going to a bowl.
As expected in any Egg Bowl with that scenario, the team with something to play for was dominated for three quarters. Mississippi State led 23-7 heading into the fourth quarter, before turning it over three times (also VERY Egg Bowl), allowing Ole Miss to take a 24-23 lead late in the game.
State put together one final drive and set up to kick a 27-yard field goal with 24 seconds left. It seemed as if Ole Miss would lose and not get to freeze to death in Shreveport in mid-December.
That is until the Egg Bowl scriptwriters said LET’S GET SPICY.
No matter how many times you watch that, it is just as absurd as it was the first time. A 40-mph wind gust arrives to spare Ole Miss from what were likely a slew of bad decisions and shove Mississippi State down an abandoned mineshaft of emotional devastation.
Thanks to Jackson news station WLBT, we can pinpoint the exact moment the ball stopped in the air, and 1,000 instances of “praise little tiny baby Jesus” and 1,000 instances of “are you shitting me” were launched.
If Ole Miss and Mississippi State were regularly competent football programs and played nationally meaningful games against each other, this would be talked about as one of the most bananas plays in the history of college football and shown constantly in related highlight packages. Instead, well, you know.
One more note from this game, Dog Brewer was out there STYLIN’ AND PROFILIN’.
Ole Miss went to Shreveport that December where they didn’t freeze to death, but did lose to Air Force 9-3 in a game that was no doubt the same kind of physical torture to watch.
Huge All The Right Moves Vibes
The 1980 Egg Bowl saw a 9-2 Mississippi State team face off against a 3-7 Ole Miss team. Once again, as expected, the team with nothing to play for made life difficult for the favorite.
Mississippi State won 19-14, but the real winner of that day was the tailor skills of Ole Miss’ equipment manager.
#59 is definitely the starting linebacker for a Craig T. Nelson-coached team that is going to play way too conservatively and lose a rivalry game they shouldn’t.
Things Went Poorly
If you want to watch all 1 hour, 58 minutes, and 45 seconds of Auburn thrashing Ole Miss 41-0 in 1985, the internet allows you to do that. Wait, didn’t that Auburn team feature Bo Jackson? Why yes it did!
Let’s check in on how it was going early in the second quarter:
Is that bad?
Obviously, if you score zero points, things didn’t go well on offense, and you don’t need a graph to explain that. However, I have to give a shout-out to 1985 ESPN graphics person for creating a graph to perfectly showcase how well it was not going for the Ole Miss offense.
For the record, I think this Bo Jackson guy might be alright.
[Extreme Forrest Gump Voice]: Sorry to ruin your Bear Bryant Museum party
If you’ll open your Ole Miss history books to Chapter Three: Making Everyone Furious, you’ll note in the third paragraph that, in 1989, Ole Miss beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa for the first time ever. Since then, Ole Miss has won exactly one (1) more time in T-Town, bringing their overall record to 2-29 in that place. That’s 2-29 if you didn’t hear me the first time.
However, if you’re going to win only two out of 31 games, it’s important that the two wins be ELITE troll jobs. The most immediate win was in 2015, which involved five Alabama turnovers and perfect play designs involving tipped passes for touchdowns.
- It was Alabama’s homecoming
- It was the dedication day for the Paul W. Bryant Museum on campus
- Alabama completed zero passes on 11 attempts
- Ole Miss had 259 yards of total offense
- Alabama had 172 yards of total offense
- Ole Miss scored to go ahead 15-12 with 2:53 to play and DIDN’T SWEAT IT OUT
- Ole Miss scored a touchdown with 15 seconds left to RUN IT UP
- The game made some Alabama fan so #madirl that they allegedly threw a brick through head coach Bill Curry’s office window
The win got Ole Miss to 2-3 on the year, and they promptly finished 5-6.
Shawn Sykes and the fullback trap forever.
Ah, Well, Nevertheless
The following year, Ole Miss hosted Alabama in Jackson because [gestures at the 1989 version of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium]. With 8:18 to play in the first quarter, Ole Miss led 21-0.
The score at halftime was 48-21 in favor of Alabama. So that’s 48 points in 23:18 for those of you scoring at home.
Fortunately, the final score was only 62-27. The loss dropped Ole Miss to 3-2, but because Ole Miss is a very normal team that does very normal things, they finished 7-4 and beat Air Force in the Liberty Bowl to end the year 8-4.
In 1984, Ole Miss and Mississippi State had to play the Egg Bowl because it was required or something. The Rebels showed up in Jackson with a 3-6-1 record, and the Bulldogs were 4-6. Of note, Ole Miss was 0-5 in the SEC, and State was 1-4.
For some unknown reason, TBS decided to televise this game, and no production expense was spared!
Ole Miss had not won a game since September 29th (the game was played on November 24th), which equated to six straight losses. Mississippi State came into the heated action losers of 4 of their last 5, with the lone win coming in an upset of #9 LSU in Starkville the week before the Egg Bowl.
Naturally, Ole Miss cruised to a 24-3 win. It’s the dumbest game on the planet for like 50 years running.
No Golf Balls Were Thrown in This Win Over Tennessee
In 1980, Ole Miss beat Tennessee 20-9 in Memphis at the Liberty Bowl (stadium, not actual bowl game; 3-8 is not bowl game material). Other than the Liberty Bowl having grass instead of artificial turf with a core temperature of 250 degrees, there’s not much to the game itself.
HOWEVER, there was a remarkable note about the video production. Instead of calling a replay a “replay” like the rest of the free world, the television wizards here tried to make “second look” stick.
Why use one word when you can use two!
Get in the Time Machine
The final video doesn’t have a lot to do with football, but you are legally required to watch this five-minute video of Ole Miss student life in the 1980s. I started taking screenshots and realized I was going to end up with 125 screenshots, which is not ideal for a post, but I cannot stress enough every screenshot would’ve been spectacular.
With that in mind, I’ve limited myself to one screenshot, which is from a helicopter showcasing Martin and Stockard because Soviet Bloc architecture was in demand in the 80s(?).
Look, I’m not telling you how to live your life, but your life will not be as full if you don’t watch.