What has been a strange season for the Ole Miss Rebels was capped off appropriately with possibly the wildest Egg Bowl finish ever, with the Mississippi State Bulldogs retaining the Golden Egg with a 21-20 victory on Thanksgiving night.
What has been a strange season for the Ole Miss Rebels was capped off appropriately with possibly the wildest Egg Bowl finish ever, with the Mississippi State Bulldogs keeping the Golden Egg in a 21-20 victory on Thanksgiving. Three days later, head coach Matt Luke was fired.
It was a remarkable miscalculation of judgement that topped the list of unimaginable moments unique to this rivalry. Sophomore receiver Elijah Moore did his best impression of 2017 D.K. Metcalf, crawling on all fours before lifting his leg to metaphorically mark his territory after catching a touchdown late in the game and causing penalty flags to fly in the back of the endzone.
There are a handful of things wrong with that particular celebration, but chief among those was the fact that his team was still down one point with a few seconds left and an unreliable placekicker. The 15-yard setback proved costly as junior kicker Luke Logan pushed the game-tying point-after attempt right of the goalposts.
“I apologize to my teammates, coaches and Rebel Nation for my actions at the end of the game,” Moore said in an official statement Friday. “It was an emotional moment, and I deeply regret it. It does not represent who I am or who we are as a team, and I will grow stronger from this mistake.”
Obviously, the Egg Bowl loss is not solely on Luke or any single person. Elijah Moore committed the penalty. Logan missed the PAT. The team put themselves in a position to need another miraculous comeback.The bottom line, however, is in Luke’s three years as the head coach for the football team, his teams’ records have regressed from 6-6 to 5-7 to 4-8 in 2019. NCAA penalties and other factors are in play, but the numbers are the numbers.
While the ugliness of the rivalry is far from one-sided, Luke teams have historically shown a lack of discipline in this game.
“Discipline is a staple of our program as evidenced by being the least penalized team in our league, and we will continue to uphold an uncompromising standard of behavior on and off the field,” Luke and Keith Carter said in a joint statement. “In maintaining our team’s high level of accountability, we will address the matter, and disciplinary action will be handled internally.”
Ole Miss was able to get by with a close victory in 2017 when Metcalf originated the cursed celebration in Starkville, but had Breeland Speaks waving and smiling to the crowd after being ejected from the game for throwing a punch. With the game virtually over in 2018, Matt Corral and the rest of the team were involved in a sideline-clearing scuffle.
Once again, the attention of the college football world were turned toward the state of Mississippi not because of quality football, but because of the distinct brand of circus clownery only the Egg Bowl can offer.
One of the top qualities cited when pulling the interim tag off of Luke was his love for Ole Miss, but has that passion and priority put on the rivalry has come back to bite the Rebels.