The Egg Bowl is moving back to its rightful place.
According to a release from ESPN, the 2013 rivalry game between the Ole Miss Rebels and Mississippi State Bulldogs will take place on Thanksgiving night, Nov. 28, and be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
It will be the first time since 2003 that the annual rivalry, which is the sixth-longest uninterrupted series in college football, will be played on Thanksgiving night. According to HailState.com, it will be the 21st time the intra-state rivals have met on Thanksgiving night.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our state’s largest football game to be played on the largest stage of a crowded football weekend,” Mississippi State director of athletics Scott Stricklin said. “Some of the most memorable games in Egg Bowl history have come on Thanksgiving night, and hopefully more great memories can be made for Bulldog fans on this holiday evening."
It's huge news for both programs from an exposure standpoint.
The two programs constantly fight an uphill battle for attention in the SEC, particularly in an age where four different programs have won BCS National Championships over the last seven years and seven different teams have finished in the final Associated Press Top 10 over the last two seasons—none of which were named "Ole Miss" or "Mississippi State."
Now, they both will get the benefit of having their annual rivalry pimped out to a much bigger audience. Just how big is that audience? Huge, according to Bob Carskadon of HailState.com:
The last three years, Egg Bowl averaged 481,000 viewers on ESPNU. ESPN Thanksgiving night games in same timeframe averaged 3.6 million.— Bob Carskadon (@bobcarskadon) April 10, 2013
Travel on Thanksgiving night can be tedious at times, especially considering since a lot of fans are already travelling to be with friends and family around Thanksgiving to begin with. Take the bad with the good.
For Ole Miss, it's a chance to keep the momentum going in a positive direction after last season's 41-24 win over the Bulldogs and that stellar 2013 recruiting class. For Mississippi State, it's a chance to rise back up and tell the rest of the world that Mississippi is still the Bulldogs' state after all.
The two programs don't have the tradition of success and resources that some of their conference foes have, so finding ways to stand out in the crowded room is always a positive. Mississippi State has done it with clever recruiting letters, as has Ole Miss.
Playing on Thanksgiving night is just another way.
Good for the two programs and ESPN for putting the game back where it belongs. Hopefully it stays in the time slot for more than just one season.