STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen will get to experience the Egg Bowl for the first time Saturday.
Mullen has watched the annual rivalry game between MSU and Ole Miss as a neutral party in the past.
Once he became MSU”s coach less than a year ago, Mullen had to learn more about the Egg Bowl.
MSU and Ole Miss meet for the 106th time at 11:21 a.m. Saturday (WCBI).
“It”s a great rivalry for the state of Mississippi,” Mullen said on his Sunday teleconference. “I know our kids are all fired up and I”m probably going to learn a little bit about the rivalry from the kids who have played in it in the past.”
Mullen has been around some pretty good rivalries as an assistant coach.
During his tenure as offensive coordinator at Florida (2005-08), Mullen was involved with an intense game against Florida State.
Mullen believes the emotions surrounding the Brigham Young-Utah compare with what he”s about to experience between MSU and Ole Miss. He was the quarterbacks coach of the Utes from 2003-04.
“The BYU-Utah rivalry is probably the biggest I”ve ever been involved with,” Mullen said. “There”s so much state pride that lasts a long time in that one game. I think that”s what makes it huge.
“Just being here, seeing our fans and their commitment to us. There”s not a lot of love lost between both schools on and off the field. When you are in that type of game, that”s what makes it special.”
Mullen especially remembers watching the 1999 Egg Bowl when the Bulldogs scored a touchdown and kicked a field goal in the final 30 seconds to defeat Rebels 23-20.
After quarterback Wayne Madkin completed a 38-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Sirmones with 27 seconds remaining, MSU got the ball back on a deflected interception by Eugene Clinton and kicker Scott Westerfield nailed a 44-yard field goal with 4 seconds left for the deciding points.
“That was pretty heated,” Mullen said. “Just seeing that and other rivalries in the past, you know it”s a special thing between two in-state schools.”
Smith”s future in doubt
Mullen said he”ll visit with junior safety Zach Smith after the season to see if football is still in his plans.
Smith had his season ended with repeated concussions and hasn”t played since the Georgia Tech game on Oct. 3.
“He”s working on getting his school (work done) and hopefully (he”s) having a great semester in the classroom,” Mullen said. “For any young kid, that”s a tough deal. When you are used to playing football for so long and all of a sudden you don”t, it is a tough adjustment.”
Wait and see on QB
Sophomore quarterback Chris Relf started the second half of Saturday”s 42-21 loss to the University of Arkansas and played the rest of the game.
Mullen said it”s too early in the week to say whether Relf or senior Tyson Lee, of Columbus, will get the most playing time against Ole Miss.