"It's Just Another Game": How Rebel Players and Coaches Approach the Egg Bowl

It's remarkable how much Ole Miss players and coaches are downplaying the significance of the Egg Bowl.
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It's remarkable how much Ole Miss players and coaches are downplaying the significance of the Egg Bowl. 

Be it something they truly believe, a public elaboration of coach speech, or simply a lie, Ole Miss players and coaches both know they have a big game on their hands this weekend, but want you to think they have no idea who's coming to town. 

"I'm going to be real. To me, it's just another game," said junior receiver Elijah Moore. "I don't really get to high; I don't get too low. But to this school, with its history, if they want you to win any game in the season, it has to be this one.

"I just look at it as if it's another game. They way you attack one thing is the away you attack everything. I try to attack every game full speed... But of course, being at Ole Miss and in these locker rooms and these meetings, they're going to hype it up because it's tradition."

Many of the major contributors at Ole Miss aren't exactly from Mississippi. 

Moore, the nation's leader in both receptions and receiving yards, is a Florida kid. Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral is a Californian. Head coach Lane Kiffin was born in Nebraska, but maintains an offseason house in California and never lived in Mississippi before taking the Ole Miss job less than one year ago. 

For Kiffin, he understands the significance of this game having seen if from afar. He knows it'll be an important game for him, from a fanbase and recruiting perspective, but you can tell it's not as critical to him personally.

(WATCH: Lane Kiffin's Pre-Egg Bowl Press Conference)

"I'd known about it just from watching. It used to be on Thanksgiving and my brother was obviously here for a couple of years," Kiffin said. "It was always really competitive and it's a big deal around here, so it's a big deal.

"When it's in-state, it's a big deal. People talk about how it can impact recruiting, which it can. Add two new coaches. It's a big game, so we have to play really well."

From the perspective of the most important player on the field – the quarterback – Matt Corral will be playing in his third Egg Bowl, despite being just a redshirt sophomore. 

As a true freshman in 2018, Corral took over for an injured Jordan Ta'amu as the fourth quarter started. He completed 5 of 8 passes in that game, including an interception and more recognizably, a play that led to a bench-clearing brawl and Corral entangled with Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram. 

That's certainly one hell of a way to make your place in Egg Bowl history at 18-years-old. 

"It's the tradition behind it. Nothing is really personal at all – it's just another game," Corral said. "Of course, the next game is the most important game, so we're going to attempt to get ready like so.

"This rivalry, this is what people are going to remember forever, no matter how old you are. The tradition that's behind this game, it means a lot to the people of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi. To come away with a win would mean a lot, not only to my teammates, but to this town."

Corral downplayed the significance of the heated and borderline toxicity of the rivalry the past few years, calling them "competitive moments." 

Any sense of fueling that fire seems to have gone well out the window with the influx of new coaching staffs on both ends. 

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