Ole Miss Football: Winners and Losers of the Egg Bowl Versus Mississippi State
The Rebels of Ole Miss are off to an amazing start under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, winning their sixth game and becoming bowl eligible by beating their in-state rival Mississippi State, 41-24, last Saturday night in Oxford, MS.
The long history of this rivalry game stretches back over 100 years and is just as hotly contested in 2012 as the day the trophy was created in 1927 to keep fans from resorting to fists after the game.
After losing the last three Egg Bowls for the first time since the WW2 era, Ole Miss students and fans rushed to embrace the players and the return of the Golden Egg to Oxford.
Here is a look at some of the highlights of the hard-fought game.
Winner: Hugh Freeze
The youthful Ole Miss coach had to fight to prove himself every week this season, even to his own fanbase who were rather undecided on his hire as head coach. With a rather weak resume, there were many who considered Freeze as a stop-gap measure, or maybe even a sign of desperation.
Those that know Freeze would tell you he has been coaching football since a young boy following his father on the field at Independence High School. His own success began at the age of 25 as the football coach at Briarcrest in Memphis, followed by dramatic winning totals at Lambuth and Arkansas State.
He even led the Briarcrest girls basketball team to state championships.
Kyle Veazey of the Commercial Appeal wrote in an article earlier this year, "It isn't necessarily about the state championships at Briarcrest Christian, the turnaround at Lambuth, the 10 wins at Arkansas State. It is, say those who know him, about leadership."
Leadership is what this Ole Miss team was surely lacking after the fallout of the 2011 season, and Hugh Freeze has proven he has a plan for this program.
Winner: Donte Moncreif
A star has been born in Ole Miss, wide receiver Donte Moncreif. In one night, he tied the record for most touchdowns scored in the Egg Bowl game, secured co-SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors and even brought national attention to his own song written by the local Oxford music group King Kobraz - Rebelz.
The ringing phrase from the song "Feed Moncreif" means to essentially get the ball to Moncrief, and Bo Wallace did that early, late and often.
Winner: Bo Wallace
Bo Wallace as the offensive leader has had some ups and downs this year, but you can't question his ability. Wallace finished his first Egg Bowl completing 15 of 22 passes for 294 yards and rushed for another 40.
His yearly totals includes total passing yards of over 2,800 with a 63.4 completion percentage and 19 touchdowns. His only blemish was 15 turnovers, many of which came in desperation to lead his team back from deficits against stronger teams.
You have to think if Wallace improves in year two and three under Hugh Freeze's offense, Wallace could be that special type of quarterback in Oxford, normally named Manning.
Winner: Egg Bowl Trophy
Perhaps for Ole Miss fans, the biggest winner in Saturday's contest was the trophy itself. Having spent more than 60 years in the confines of Oxford, MS, the trophy was held hostage in Starkville for the last three years. The longest period of time Mississippi State has hosted the trophy was four years from 1939 to 1942, while Ole Miss once went 17 years without a loss in the series.
My "sources" within the Ole Miss athletic department say the trophy will be thoroughly cleaned and checked to remove any dog hair or ticks or dirt from the veterinary barn on the Mississippi State campus.
Fans are expecting 2012 to be the start of another long run of victories by the Rebels.
Winner: Other Notables
Jeff Scott had 111 yards rushing on 28 carries.
Vince Sanders had 83 yards receiving on three catches and one touchdown.
Charles Sawyer had nine total tackles, three pass breakups and 0.5 tackles for loss.
C.J. Johnson had two sacks and three total tackles.