The final weekend of college football's regular season may be the most exciting thanks to all of the rivalry games contested around the nation, and few of these games match the intensity of the Battle for the Golden Egg. For years, many college football fans overlooked the season ending matchup between Mississippi State and Ole Miss, but over the last several seasons, the rivalry has ramped up. In 2015, it will be one of the biggest games from the Bulldogs and the Rebels.
When both Magnolia State teams struggle, the rivalry game takes on a whole new meaning because it is the last bit of joy that either fan base can snag for the season. It allows one group of fans to close the season on a high note while the other must wait through the purgatory of the college football offseason to get their football hopes up again. When both teams are playing well, something that has happened surprisingly infrequently in this rivalry, the game serves as a punctuation mark. The winning team adds an exclamation point to their season, but the loser adds only a comma, most likely to be followed by the words "but we lost the Egg Bowl."
There is no reason to believe that the Egg Bowl will not feature two 8 or more win teams again this season. Both Mississippi State and Ole Miss return a good amount of talent, and both have questions which should be answered. Entering this contest, one or both teams may have a path to the SEC West championship at hand. Last year, a Mississippi State victory coupled with an Alabama loss would have put the Bulldogs on a plane to Atlanta. Ole Miss made sure it would not happen with a win, and this year, one of the teams may come in motivated to spoil such a trip for the other.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze have upped the stakes in this rivalry and in this game. The winner on the field takes a ton of momentum going into bowl and recruiting season, and the winning fanbase rides a high for another 365 days.
Will this game be the most important one in terms of impact on the Mississippi State season? It's doubtful, as that will probably come long before. Is it the game that excites Mississippi State fans the most, at least right now? Probably not. Is it the game both Mississippi State and Ole Miss fans dread losing more than any other? For many, the answer is yes.
Last year, in perhaps one of the biggest Egg Bowls ever staged, Ole Miss took the fight to Mississippi State, knocking off the Bulldogs in Oxford in a game in which Mississippi State could not ever get going. With the rivalry shifting back to Starkville, the pressure will be on the Bulldogs to prevent such a performance and bring the trophy back to Starkville.