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Now Lane Kiffin understands the hard side of the Egg Bowl.
It took more cowbell for it to ring true in his brain during his Ole Miss team’s 31-21 victory at Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville Thursday night.
“Those bells are really annoying, by the way,” Kiffin said. “They don’t even come close to following the rules.”
The SEC and NCAA rules say that noisemakers such as cowbells are allowed only during timeouts, intermissions and instant replay reviews.
“So whatever rule that is when they’re supposed to stop, they don’t,” Kiffin said.
He had heard those before while Alabama’s offensive coordinator from 2014-16, but not quite like it was for the visiting ninth-ranked Rebels on Thanksgiving.
He got a new sense of the Egg Bowl rivarly as the visiting head coach of Ole Miss for the first time after a 31-24 win at Ole Miss a year ago.
“It was different coming here with Alabama,” he said. “There was a different energy in there. There are a lot of things said to you. Their players say a lot of things to you during the game. It gets emotional, and it gets competitive.”
And Kiffin became officially initiated into the Egg Bowl emotion with 5:35 to play after Ole Miss quarterback’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Jerrion Ealy for a 31-13 lead.
Kiffin raised his two index fingers high to say “it’s over” to the State faithful. This just after saying last week that he and Mississippi State coach Mike Leach were bringing peace to an often toxic rivalry.
“Maybe we were brought here to bring us all together,” he said on Monday as one could almost hear The Byrds’ 1965 classic “Turn! Turn! Turn!” song in the background
“To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. A time of war, a time of peace…”
“We don’t just hate people because they go to a certain school,” Kiffin continued. “I don’t think I knew about the toxicity.”
But the cowbells and State got to the kid from Fresno State.
“Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have done that,” Kiffin said of his “it’s over” display. “I did kind of get caught up in that. I get it now.”
Ole Miss (10-2, 6-2 SEC) finished a regular season with 10 wins for the first time in program history.
“It’s just really special,” Kiffin said. “Never to have got 10 regular season wins, and football has been played here a long time (since 1893). And the SEC is as strong as ever with more SEC teams than there used to be. It’s a really special deal.”
Kiffin talked about the 10-win plateau throughout the week. Ole Miss had won 10 games in a season six previous times, but the 10th win did not come until a bowl.
“We told them all week, ‘You can do things that are special, but it’s really special if you do something that’s never been done before at a place,'” Kiffin said. “For this group of players and assistant coaches to win 10 regular season games was really cool.”
Ole Miss is likely headed to a New Year’s Six bowl — one year after going 4-5 in the regular season.
“Well, I hope so, because they just all celebrated like we are,” Kiffin said. “We’re going to have some really upset players if they went 10-2 and aren’t.”
Mississippi State is bowl bound as well after finishing 7-5 and 4-4 after a 3-7 regular season in Leach’s first season.
“I think we’ve improved probably more than any team in the conference,” Leach said. “But we think we left a lot of meat on the bone. We did steadily improve throughout the year. Don’t get too tired of these guys, you’ll see a lot of them next year.”