OXFORD, MS (WLBT) - It’s the game these players have been waiting all year for. Thanksgiving is about way more than turkey dinner for Mississippi State and Ole Miss. It’s all about bragging rights for an entire year. If you have any questions about just how serious these players are about holding the Golden Egg, you’re about to find out.
"We know exactly what this rivalry has been, MSU senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald said. “We know how dirty things have gotten. We know how intense and how vicious it is.”
Fitzgerald suffered a severe ankle injury in the 2017 Egg Bowl that ended his season. While fans speculated that it was done on purpose, Fitzgerald remains hopeful.
“For a long time, I don’t think it’s been on purpose," Fitzgerald said. "But from what I’ve seen throughout the season, I’ll probably have both of my ankles spatted before the game just to make sure.”
Ole Miss senior quarterback Jordan Ta’amu is from Hawaii, but he knows just how important this game is.
“I know it’s huge for the guys around here and I know it’s huge for the coaches and the fans,” Ta’amu said. “If it’s huge to them, then it’s huge to me and I’m going to treat it like I was raised in Mississippi.”
As for the players from Mississippi, they’ve been eyeing this rivalry their entire lives.
“Growing up in the state of Mississippi, it’s one game you look forward to whether it’s on Thanksgiving or on Saturday,” Ole Miss senior offensive lineman, and Petal native, Javon Patterson said.
Ole Miss leads the series 64-44-6 dating back to 1901. The Rebels have won three out of the last five years. Mississippi State senior offensive lineman Deion Calhoun compared winning the Egg Bowl to winning a National Championship, and he’s eager to get the trophy back.
“It’s very intense,” Calhoun said. “The Egg Bowl has been in Oxford for eighty percent of my career, so we need to get the Egg Bowl back in Starkville.”
What’s really different about this Egg Bowl is there are two new head coaches. For one, it’s his first time experiencing the game while the other eats, sleeps and breathes for this day.
“It’s 365 days of bragging rights,” said Ole Miss Head Coach Matt Luke. “It’s always been important in my family ever since I can remember. This is not my second Egg Bowl, it’s my 42nd.”
Luke grew up an Ole Miss fan and even played for the Rebels. In 2017, Luke lead Ole Miss to a 31-28 victory over Mississippi State as Interim Head Coach. Ole Miss removed the interim tag after the win.
Mississippi State Head Coach Joe Moorhead is experiencing his first season in the Southeastern Conference. While he assures fans he understands the importance of the Egg Bowl, this is the biggest rivalry game he’s ever coached in.
“Fordam at Cross really doesn’t carry the panache of Mississippi State and Ole Miss, but it’s close," Moorhead joked.
Kickoff for the 2018 Eggbowl is set for 6:30 p.m. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Thursday the 22nd.