By LEE ADAMS
It's the most recognized rivalry in the state of Mississippi.
The annual Battle for the Golden Egg between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Ole Miss Rebels will be renewed this Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.
With the Golden Egg on the line, it is the most important game of the season for both teams.
"This is the game that leaves a good or bad taste in your mouth in the state of Mississippi for the next nine months," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "It can make a good season great or a bad season good. It's that type of game and it sticks with you for a long time walking around the state."
Separated by a little less than a 100 miles, the schools have been battling each other once a year since 1901, except in 1918 where they played twice. Although the Bulldogs won 17 of the first 26 meetings, Ole Miss or as State fans say "the school up north" leads the series 60-41-6.
The Rebels took the advantage in the series when they won 20 of the meeting from 1944-69 while MSU won only two. There were four ties during that stretch including the last tie of the series that came in 1968 in Oxford. The series had an 18-year stretch in Jackson, but in 1991, it returned to playing on campus in Starkville and Oxford.
Since that time, MSU has won 11, while Ole Miss has won 9. However, the most important game in the series is always the next one, and State has the momentum in the series. The Bulldogs are 2-0 in the Egg Bowl under Mullen and he is the one who coined the phrase "the school up north" or "TSUN."
In 2009, Mullen and his Bulldogs found a way to pick up the 41-27 win in Starkville, by using a two-quarterback system in Tyson Lee and Chris Relf and had Anthony Dixon pounding the ball on the Rebel defense. The win was an upset, but last season's 31-23 win in Oxford was not an upset by any means.
The Bulldogs carried a 7-4 record into the game last season and after the win, they went on to win the Gator Bowl and finished with a 9-4 season. Last season's success spawned high hopes in Starkville, but it has been a tough season for the Bulldogs as they are needing the win the Egg Bowl to become bowl eligible. However, they will be doing it like they did in 2009, with a two or possibly a three-quarterback system.
Mullen has already chosen Tyler Russell to start the Egg Bowl, but Relf, who was one of the main reasons for the 2009 win, will see the field according to Mullen, despite suffering a mild concussion two weeks ago.
Even though the Bulldogs are trying to reach bowl eligibility, Mullen doesn't seem too focused on that.
"To me, the Egg Bowl is the most important thing," said Mullen after the Bulldogs loss to Arkansas. "If it means a bowl game, fantastic, if it doesn't, fantastic. It's about winning that game as it's always been since I took this job."
Kickoff for this year's Battle for the Golden Egg is set for 6 p.m. and can be seen on ESPNU.