Mississippi State football: A quick history of Lane Kiffin vs. Mike Leach

The SEC became a lot more fun with Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach in the conference. Ole Miss and Mississippi State football will have a heck of an Egg Bowl.

As whacky and as fun as the Egg Bowl has been for the past few years, it just got a little bit more fun. Both Mississippi State and Ole Miss fired their head coaches at the end of their seasons, with the Bulldogs getting rid of Joe Morehead after losing to Louisville in the Music City Bowl and the Rebels firing Matt Luke after losing his second consecutive Egg Bowl.

Replacing Morehead and Luke are two of the most entertaining personalities in all of college football, former Washington State head coach Mike Leach and former Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin. Having these two guys coaching SEC football would have been perfect enough. Now, not only are they both in the same division, but they are in the same state in the midst of one of the best rivalries in all of college football.

With last year’s game ending infamously, the addition of these two coaches will no doubt make it even more entertaining. The matchup on Thanksgiving Day will be the first time the two have faced off against each other since the USC-Washington State game in September 2013. In fact, it has been the only time the two have squared off against each other as head coaches.

While for the next few years, you might be thinking about the number of points Ole Miss and Mississippi State are going to score, the opposite happened in 2013. With a final score of 10-7, it was the lowest amount of points either team scored all season. The best part of it all is that a Mike Leach led team won a game without scoring an offensive touchdown.

The Trojans scored via a Cody Kessler rushing touchdown in the middle of the second quarter. That would be all USC would get that night, as the Cougars defense came up huge. Keeping the Trojans to under 200 total yards, Kessler and Max Wittek had a combined stat line of 11-21 with 54 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. Running back Tre Madden rushed for 151 yards, but nobody else got anything going and USC finished with 139 rushing yards.

As for Washington State, a Mike Leach team won a football game without scoring a single offensive touchdown. Their score came right before halftime as Damante Horton picked off Kessler and took it in for six points. The Cougars struggled the rest of the day, only rushing for seven yards and not finding the endzone again.

The game came down to the kicking game in the second half and Washington State hit their kick and USC missed both of theirs. Cougar kicker Andrew Furney hit what would be the game-winning field goal with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Trojans missed two kicks in the second half, resulting in a disappointing home loss.

After the game, Kiffin was booed off the field by USC fans. He was fired three games later after losing to Arizona State. Landing the Alabama offensive coordinator job the next year, Kiffin went to three College Football Playoffs with the Crimson Tide but left to coach Florida Atlantic before the 2017 National Championship game.

Mike Leach, on the other hand, remained at Washington State until Thursday afternoon. A career 55-47 record with the Cougars, he is the third-most winningest coach in the program’s history.

Now the two coaches are in Oxford and Starkville, Miss., ready to duel it out against each other. Both known for their offense, the scorelines in the Egg Bowl for years to come may be remarkable. Off the field, it may be even better. Both Kiffin and Leach are interesting personalities that are a lot of fun to watch.

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Watching them in the same conference, let alone the same state is going to be even better. It will once again be a great year for SEC football.