OXFORD, Miss. — The crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium started cheering for Mississippi State. This was pity, not appreciation. Each time an injured Bulldog was helped off the field, his exit was met by applause. Ole Miss fans even stood and saluted MSU’s Brandon McRae after his right leg snapped in the first half, leaving a puddle of blood on the turf.
The entire game could not have been more graphic, more violent or more one-sided, the chasm between two rivals — pain and joy, grief and celebration — growing with each touchdown toss and every quarterback sack. And as a light rain began to fall, the brutality of the 81st edition of the Egg Bowl on Friday afternoon was reflected by the scoreboard: Ole Miss 45, Mississippi State 0.