Egg Bowl ball becomes focal point of new tradition

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> STARKVILLE, Miss.–Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi may be fierce rivals on the gridiron, but the two institutions happily came together–literally–for a few moments this week in Calhoun City.
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> To add more fanfare to annual Egg Bowl traditions, the first Egg Bowl Run began Monday [Nov. 25] on the Ole Miss campus as a lead-up to the nationally televised Thursday night [the 28th ] football game between the two Southeastern Conference rivals at MSU’s Davis Wade Stadium.
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> All told, the run by Bulldog and Rebel battalion teams covered more than 90 miles.
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> UM ROTC cadets set off about 5 a.m. from the Oxford campus with the game ball in hand and headed down State Highway 9 toward Calhoun City. At noon, they handed over the pigskin–earlier autographed by head football coach Hugh Freeze–to their MSU counterparts waiting at the city’s historic downtown square.
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> The Bulldog runners then continued south down the highway before turning on to U.S. Highway 82 at Eupora and heading east toward the Starkville campus. Arriving around 8:30 p.m. at the new Leo Seal Football Complex, they met MSU head coach Dan Mullen and got his signature.
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> To be televised by ESPN, the final regular-season game for both schools kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
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> In addition to the team’s coaches, the ball is being autographed by MSU President Mark E. Keenum and UM Chancellor Dan Jones, as well a professor of military science at each institution.
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> The much-travelled ball will eventually join other sports memorabilia being auctioned in May by the Dixie Thunder Run Assn., according to Maj. Michael Hunter, MSU operations officer.
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> Hunter said auction proceeds will go to support Operation First Response.
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> The association describes itself as “soldiers helping soldiers,” and Operation First Response works “to serve all branches of our nation’s wounded heroes/disabled veterans and their families with personal and financial needs.”
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> Hunter said he felt MSU cadets involved took something very positive from the experience.
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> “I think they enjoyed getting to see the other cadets from Ole Miss and be part of something that was not competitive; it was something we were together in,” he observed.
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> “I know they enjoyed seeing people along the route,” he continued. “As they were running, people would come out of their houses, wave and give the ‘Go Dogs’ (chant).”
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> Hunter, an MSU alumnus, also said many Bulldog supporters along the way came out with another tradition in hand. “They’d ring cowbells and the cadets enjoyed that,” he added.
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> For more information about the 2013 Egg Bowl, visit www.hailstate.com.
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