Sunday ThingamaBob: In the Egg Bowl, neither victory or defeat will ever last

After three years, the Egg Bowl Trophy is no longer in Starkville.

Though, as Johnthan Banks said just outside the locker room on Saturday night, it’s not a rivalry if you win every game.

The downside to the big reward of winning three-straight Egg Bowls is the exponentially higher risk of how awful it feels for the Bulldogs and their fans when they inevitably have to send the trophy back.

The more you gain, the more you have to lose. In finances, you can be smart with your money and save it all.

MSU has experienced an Egg Bowl win before, and inevitably, it will again.

But in football, there is no sure thing. No high-interest savings accounts, no re-financing and no bailouts.

Every year in the Battle for the Golden Egg, you put all your money on the table. For guys like Banks, it was his life savings as a Bulldog. And no matter how much you gain, you know, eventually, it will all be taken away. The more you have, the more it hurts on the day you finally lose it.

On Saturday, in Oxford, no less, it hurt bad for Mississippi State. It hurt For Dan Mullen, who had never lost to “That School Up North.” It hurt for the players who believed, for the administration who powered the charge for their state and for the fans who invested time, emotions and, for many, a significant amount of actual, real money.

Now, the wealth of the rivalry resides with those in red and blue. But just as it did for those who bled Maroon and White, the rivalry riches will grow, and whether it’s 365 days or another three years, the joy and jubilant triumphance of victory will betray them, just as it did the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Such is the burden of rivalry. But that joy of victory, and the savory days, weeks, months and sometimes years afterwards, make it worth it.

Without defeat, there is no victory. Without pain, there is no joy.

For at least the next 360-plus days, Ole Miss will enjoy the bragging rights, the victory and the pleasure of seeing the Egg Bowl Trophy reside in their home each day. Mississippi State will run, sweat and train to do whatever it takes to flush the sorrow from their hearts and re-capture the elation they first had when Mullen raised the trophy over his head on a cold November day back in 2009.

But they’ll have to wait a year. And until then, let’s, if you can stomach it, take a look at some of the Xs and Os and high and lows from the 60 minutes of play in the most recent Egg Bowl.

  • Defensively, as a generality, MSU has some pretty big problems. For the third time in 2012, the Bulldogs gave up over 500 yards of total offense. Both Mullen and defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said changes have to be made, and each plans to “evaluate” the deficiencies in the offseason, and starting now as MSU prepares for a bowl game.
  • MSU was unable to get much pressure on Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, and still gave up some huge plays in the passing game, plays which Mullen and Wilson both bemoaned. Particularly, Rebel receiver Donte Moncrief gave MSU some issues, twice scoring a touchdown when he found himself covered by a safety, rather than Banks or another corner.
  • The upside for the defense: senior linebacker Cam Lawrence had another stellar game, doubling his career interception total by roping in two picks. You’d have a tough time convincing me anyone on MSU’s defense has played harder or better over the course of the season than Lawrence. Any post-season accolades he earns are well-deserved.
  • After the game, sophomore receiver Jameon Lewis told reporters something I very much agree with: had MSU been able to capitalize on Ole Miss mistakes in the first half, the outcome would have been very different.
  • Off three Ole Miss turnovers, MSU’s offense had a missed field goal, a punt and a drive ended by an interception deep in Ole Miss territory. When UM punter Jim Broadway shanked a punt and gave MSU the ball just 40 yards away from pay dirt, the drive stalled and ended in a turnover on downs after a failed fourth-down conversion attempt. Give MSU just a field goal on each of those failed offensive possessions and the Bulldogs would’ve led at halftime by a score of 26-17. Give them two touchdowns and a field goal, and State would’ve hit the locker room at the break with a 34-17 advantage and a significantly different mental and emotional state. Very hypothetical, of course, but what a difference it would have made if MSU just could’ve capitalized on Rebel errors.
  • There were, however, some bright spots, including Lewis’ 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the longest play in Egg Bowl history that could be found in the press box. We knew he had an electric side to him, and it’s important to see young players do well over the final stretch of the season, as we wrote about last week.
  • Chad Bumphis had yet another monster game, putting a 146-yard and two-touchdown cap on his best regular season as a Bulldog, and he’s still got a bowl game left.
  • The first of Bumphis’ touchdowns was a tremendous play, with Tyler Russell running around in the backfield, right tackle Charles Siddoway knocking over three Ole Miss defenders with one block to give Russell the extra time he needed to fling the ball 42 yards straight ahead down the right sideline and into the arms of a backpedaling Bumphis, who turned right into the endzone for six points.
  • His second scoring play was less meaningful, the last touchdown of the game, but MSU still has to be happy to see freshman quarterback Dak Prescott finish a scoring drive, MSU marching 75 yards down the field in just over three minutes.
  • The rest of the offense, however, was not great. There was no rhythm, the running game never got going and the blocking was, honestly, pretty awful for long stretches. Russell was hit all night, which has been a theme the last several weeks, and for much of the season, really.
  • Whether it’s play-calling, blocking or just personnel, MSU’s offense has had some glaring problems it needs to resolve.
  • But, here’s the good news: MSU improved on its regular-season win total from last by two games, it won four SEC games and the Bulldogs are headed to their third-straight bowl game, no small feat after nearly a decade with just one post-season appearance. The loss to Ole Miss is tough, and the range of emotions from the beatdown of Arkansas to suffering defeat in Oxford just seven days later is a roller coaster more extreme than even the most daring thrill-seekers would think twice about. Most of thejoy was concentrated in the first half of the season, while the stinging of loss came heavy in the second half. But, when ignoring the timeline and looking at the season as a whole, there is plenty for MSU to both be happy about and build on. 2012, however you slice it, is a success.
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22 Responses to Sunday ThingamaBob: In the Egg Bowl, neither victory or defeat will ever last

  1. Kay B. McDonnell says:

    Proud of our kids. Thank you for the only objective article I have read about the game last night. Even without the Egg Bowl we are going to our third bowl in a row. Not many, including TSUN can say that!

  2. WorriedFan says:

    I’ve alwasy been a huge State fan but things need to change, State’s 4 SEC wins all came aginst teams whose coaches have been fired this season. State has greatly improved its team but we need to stop with all this “i belive” and special uniform crap and get to basic footbal issues. For State to supposed to have one of the best D-Backfields in the country, it sure didn’t look like it last night. I hope there are major changes comming soon for State or else they will never truly be competative in the SEC West, we will just continue to be one of the lower teams.

    • Kay B. McDonnell says:

      Worried, looks like you need to improve your spelling. My goodness if the Dawgs played ball the way you spell, we’d never go to a bowl which, by the way, we will be going to for the third time in three years! Yeah, something’s got to change alright!

      • Jeff says:

        While his spelling may be horrid he makes a great point. As much as I love my bulldogs and Coach Mullen things do need to change. We had a very talented defensive back field who were beaten like a drum over the last few weeks. We have usually had a pretty decent line but the game last night was a result of Ole Miss winning the battle of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football. We got no pressure on Wallace and Russell was on his back way too many times last night. We have some serious problems and we are on the bottom rung of the SEC regardless of being in a bowl game for three years. We are there because we play teams like Jackson State to enhance our win column. We defeated no decent SEC team and almost lost to Troy. Something in the defensive coaching staff needs to change and personally I did not like many of the offensive play calls last night either.

  3. steve.whitehead4@gmail.com says:

    As a long-time State fan and alum,8-4 is a great season but losing 4 of the last 5 is disappointing even though we played 3 games in a row to top 10 teams.But,hey,it could be worse…look at Auburn.I have long felt that the bar for success for State is lower than that for the LSU’s,Alabama’s and Florida’s of the world.So,for State,win more than we lose and beat Ole Miss regularly and a coach could have the stadium named for him.Otherwise,disappointment win be the rule rather than the exception.
    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  4. Mary Ann says:

    Great article. Hopefully. The extra couple of weeks of practice will help our team regroup and get ready for the bowl game. I’m still proud of our season. GO DAWGS!

  5. Meri-Douglas Blair says:

    Wonderful article!! I was there yelling for My Dawgs, and I’m still proud of them! I’d rather be a BULLDOG any day! Can’t wait for that bowl game! #HailState

    • Braidens Father says:

      Yes it was an amazing article… I saw you at the game I was there as well and also saw you at the Lee Brice show in Oxford… I wish things were different and I could be a father and not witheld from the only thing that made my life change… Dont continue to hurt me for the rest of my life… God changes people and maybe one day he will show you how he changed me….

  6. steve.whitehead4@gmail.com says:

    Here’s a crazy idea I just had.Financially State needs to remain in the SEC but for pure athletic competiveness we should be in a conference I call SEC2 made up of Kentucky,Vandy,Memphis,Missouri,Ole Miss,Ga.Tech,Central Fla. And State.
    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  7. Barbara Dunn Rogers says:

    We have come a very long way when MSU BULLDOGS can grumble about an 8 & 4 season. Be proud of the BULLDOGS…next year will be here soon enough! Love my dogs!!!

  8. NO EMOTION OR LEADERSHIP!
    These kids need to play with heart and intensity! That’s coaching! Look how good we are not playing as a team we have gone 8-4 with pure talent !!! Wonder how good we could be if they has true leadership someone they respect that can get these kids to play with FIRE!

  9. The article was very good and made me feel better. I had three of the enemy in my home for dinner and the game last night and I have been sick all day.

    I really like this site and come here every day looking for news. If we pay a little more could we get a few more of your good stories every week?

  10. Jordan says:

    The 3 blocks during the touchdown were not by Siddoway. They were by red shirt freshman Justin Malone. Bright future on the line

  11. ezfreeze says:

    The biggest problem for MSU has to do with play calling… When Steve Spurrier decided to take over the play calling, the gamecocks started winning…

    I think the same thing needs to happen for MSU… If not that, then we need to get someone in who can call the right plays…

    • Bob Jackson says:

      Agree. Play calling seemed to be predictable. What happened to taking the short passes to the side lines. Those were going well early in the game. Do that enough and we could have burned them with longer passes as they were lulled to sleep.

  12. Bart Broome says:

    I think Msu has one of the best head coaches in Dan Mullen ! I also think he could do better choosing someone to head the defense … Any time i see a coach put 3 down linemen on the line of scrimmage it drives me crazy !!! The line of scrimmage is where the game is won or lost ! Gonna lose the battle every time when 6 are blocking 3 !!Heck our defensive coach has played this defense in all of our blowout losses ? I love Mississippi State and congratulate the team , coaches , and players on a fine season, but the Bulldog players as i see it were not put in position to win in some of the games on the defensive side …. Our team has maybe the best D-backs in the country !! Its hard for any D-back to cover any receiver when the QB has all the time he wants to throw !! PUT SOME MEN ON THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE AND PRESSURE THE QB !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Break19 says:

    Rooting for any team from Mississippi will make you a bipolar lunatic. The state of MS just doesn’t have the resources for either program to have any sustained success – the Big 3 in the state (MSU, UM, and SMiss) are just waiting for the right moment to rip your heart out.

  14. I_Bleed_Maroon_And_It_Aint_Pretty says:

    Break19 makes a great point. The Florida, Georgia, and Alabama coaches are recruiting throughout the south and beyond. LSU recruits in the talent-rich state of Louisiana, competing only with Tulane. Meanwhile, MSU competes with TSUN and Southern MS (and to some extent with LSU, Alabama, and Florida) for Mississippi high school recruits.

    It’s a tribute to the MSU coaching staff and to the quality of Mississippi high school football that the team has the talent it does.

    I’m pretty darn happy with an 8 win regular season and a bowl game. I’d be happier if we beat one of the big SEC powers and/or TSUN. But next year brings another season and more opportunities. I like where Mullen has taken the program so far and look forward to continued progress.

    And thanks, Bob, for the great read.

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