STARKVILLE — Corey Broomfield intercepted passes before and after his first game against the University of Mississippi, but there’s one play people still want to discuss.
Every day he’s asked about his 64-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 41-27 victory in the 2009 Egg Bowl, the Mississippi State junior cornerback is reminded of what the play meant to everybody in the Magnolia state.
Even without hearing the defensive play call and suffering a separated shoulder earlier in the afternoon, Broomfield secured his Egg Bowl moment.
“I was just going by feel, and the coaches kept saying all week they would run out routes,” Broomfield said. “No matter where I am in the state of Mississippi somebody still always tells me where they were when I made that play.”
That’s just one of many Egg Bowl moments that have occurred in the 107 meetings between the schools. The 10th-longest uninterrupted series in college football will continue at 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU) when MSU (5-6, 1-6 Southeastern Conference) will attempt to keep the Golden Egg Trophy in Starkville for the third straight time. MSU hasn’t won this matchup three times in a row since World War II.
“I said, ‘We’re never going to lose to this team again’ to our players when I first got here,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said. “The first team meeting we had, we talked about that. The mind-set you have to have, our guys have to know this game is very, very different. This is a must-win game, every year, no matter your record. This is the one they remember.”
Ole Miss (2-9, 0-7) is coming off a 52-3 loss at home to No. 1 LSU. The Tigers took a knee with four minutes left on the Rebels’ 1-yard-line. Tonight will mark the final game on an Ole Miss sideline for coach Houston Nutt, who resigned under pressure Nov. 7 but was allowed to finish the 2011 campaign.
“I don’t like going out this way and I don’t like losing,” Nutt said. “I am very competitive and losing wrenches my gut. I try to do everything I can to win. I would have liked to have gone out a little bit different, but we still have one game left, and that is what I am focused on.”
Mullen has added to the extra emphasis on the game by tweaking Ole Miss by calling them ‘The School Up North.’ This week, he said their name ‘looks like some Spanish spelling.’
“I’ve had people my whole life tell me I get under their skin, so I guess that’s nothing new for me,” Mullen said. “This is the one our fans remember, our students remember, and the people of Mississippi remember. This is the game we have to win every year, and we believe we’re gonna win it every year.”
Ole Miss can ruin MSU’s 2011 season by preventing it from becoming bowl eligible for the third time since 1990. Mullen and the Bulldogs have attempted to downplay the importance of the bowl factor because the rivalry at hand.
“We get reminded minute by minute on the importance of this game by the people of Mississippi,” MSU assistant coach Melvin Smith said.
Smith, who coaches the cornerbacks, has coached at both programs in his 25-year career. The Magee native was the tight ends /wide receivers coach at Ole Miss from 1992-94.
“There is no difference in how the Ole Miss fans and the Mississippi State fans treat this game,” Smith said. “The only difference is where the school is located and the colors they wear on game day.”
Ole Miss will be without quarterback Randall Mackey and tailback Jeff Scott, who were suspended for violating team rules. Barry Brunetti, who started the team’s season-opening loss to BYU, will start at quarterback.
“He hasn’t played very much this year, and the way he competed, I thought he gave us some juice (last week),” Nutt said. “The biggest thing is to help protect him against a good defensive line that doesn’t give you much time. I am anxious for his confidence to build this week and he will be ready to go.”
Mullen recruited Brunetti, a transfer from the University of West Virginia, out of Memphis University High School in 2008.
The Bulldogs will try to correct issues that popped up last week that allowed University of Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson to throw for 365 yards in a 44-17 victory in Little Rock, Ark.
“It’s a problem we’re not getting to the quarterback nearly enough and we’re too far away from the receivers,” Mullen said.
However, motivation for players to have their Egg Bowl moment today isn’t a problem.
“In these rivalry games, these players know each other and you can throw records out the door,” MSU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said. “You can just tell in warmups there’s a different emotion and electricity in the air. Everybody knows this is when you make your mark on either side for the rest of time.”