Mullen adds some spice to Egg Bowl

The Egg Bowl has had its share of memorable moments over the years.

And if you go way back, there are some classic tales that put the Mississippi State-Ole Miss rivalry into proper perspective.

But here recently, the rivalry probably owes Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen a debt of gratitude.

To say he's helped spice it up is like saying Archie Manning still carries a little bit of weight on the Ole Miss campus.

In reality, Mullen did more than just spice it up. He took one of those huge oversized stirring sticks and whipped both sides into the kind of frenzy that makes rivalries in this conference so much fun.

And for the record, Mullen said Monday he stands behind everything he’s said.

For those who need a refresher -- and nobody in the state of Mississippi does -- Mullen announced to the Scott Field crowd last season following the Bulldogs’ 41-27 win over the Bulldogs that there was one program in the state on the rise and headed in the right direction.

Mullen also refuses to utter the words “Ole Miss.”

Instead, Ole Miss is the “school up north” no matter how or when Mullen refers to the Rebels.

I asked Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt this past summer if that bothered him, and he rolled his eyes and assured me it didn’t.

Nutt did admit earlier this week that he has a better handle on the rivalry than he did upon arriving from Arkansas. That usually happens when you lose a game in a rivalry.

Ever since the final second ticked off the clock last season at Scott Field, Nutt said there’s been at least one weekly mention of this game.

It’s a loss that soiled an otherwise successful season for the Rebels a year ago.

They could turn the tables on the Bulldogs this Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Mississippi State, after winning six in a row at one point this season, has lost its last two. That doesn’t mean Mullen feels any differently about which of the programs is headed in the right direction.

“Obviously since that game (last season) until now, we are the program on the rise,” Mullen said Monday.

Game on.

Better yet, rivalry on.