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The Kentucky-Mississippi State rivalry needs more rivalry

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky’s playing Mississippi State on Saturday and while it’s a huge game, it brings up a feeling I have every time the Cats face the Bulldogs: no matter what the SEC says, it just doesn’t feel like a real rivalry.

Based on a Twitter poll I did yesterday, 86 percent of you agree:

Back when the SEC expanded in 1992, the league was split into two divisions, East and West. Cross-divisional “rivalries” were created and, for some reason, Kentucky and Mississippi State were paired. The two programs had only played each other 19 times before, but hey, why not. The decision stuck in 2014 when the SEC decided to keep cross-divisional rivalries part of the eight-game conference schedule and, for the most part, the Kentucky/Mississippi State rivalry has fallen flat.

I’ve spent entirely too much time thinking about this, so here’s my guess as to why.

They’re too far away

How do you get hyped up to hate a school 500 miles away? It’s easy to hate Louisville and Tennessee because they’re close; interacting with them on a regular basis breeds animosity. There isn’t a ton of history between the two programs, so you can’t pull from that like you would a program like Duke. I realize Lexington being so far north made finding Kentucky an SEC West rival difficult, but putting us with Mississippi State feels like an afterthought for both sides.

They’ve kind of owned us

Right now, Mississippi State leads the all-time series 23-22, which sounds pretty even, but the Bulldogs have won eight of the past nine. Thanks to Austin MacGinnis, Dan Mullen didn’t go undefeated vs. Kentucky during his time at Mississippi State, but it’s a little hard to get revved up for a series that’s been so lopsided.

Starkville is so bad it’s sad

Benny Snell and Kylin Hill are doing their part to make this rivalry legit with their trash talk, and after sharing that story on Twitter, I was surprised to see some Mississippi State fans come after me for it.

Based on their hostility, maybe I’m wrong; maybe this is a rivalry. Or maybe Mississippi State fans are just scared, which is actually kind of flattering.

Regardless, this brings me to another point: it’s easy to make fun of Mississippi State fans because they live in Starkville, but then you feel bad for them because they live in Starkville. I’ve been there and really tried to have an open mind, but there’s a reason everyone calls it the worst town in the SEC. It just is.

The Cowbells are annoying, but effective

If this was just the Kentucky vs. Cowbells rivalry, I’d be all for it. Those things are annoying as all get out, and it’s lame that the SEC lets Mississippi State fans have them. But you can’t deny the Clanga Clanga is effective. It’s like listening to ten thousand buckets of silverware being dropped at once on loop.

Thankfully, we won’t have to deal with cowbells on Saturday because the SEC only allows them at Davis Wade Stadium. If you see one, feel free to confiscate it.

Their mascot is a dog

If you know me, you know I love dogs, and Mississippi State’s is pretty adorable. But, in terms of cuteness, he’s only second best bulldog in the SEC when you compare him to Georgia’s. If he were a human, that’d be a pretty rough beat; thankfully, because he’s a dog, he has no idea and is super happy all of the time.

It’s impossible to hate on that. Adorable. Now, the costumed mascot? That’s a different story:

That is a teddy bear, not a dog.

Sylvester Croom’s mustache was magnificent

Croom’s five-year tenure in Starkville included some of the best games of the series, including Mississippi State’s upset of the 14th ranked Cats in 2007 and Kentucky’s 14-13 revenge win in Starkville the season after. Croom, the SEC’s first African American head coach, resigned after Mississippi State finished the season 4-8, but you can’t deny his mustache was fantastic:

After being a running backs coach with the St. Louis Rams, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Tennessee Titans, Croom is now retired.

Stingray Steve has disappeared

Remember Stingray, the lovable Mississippi State fan whose kooky YouTube videos went viral? Stingray was great and even made an appearance on Hey Kentucky! in 2016, but has disappeared from the internet. His Twitter account is suspended and he hasn’t uploaded a YouTube video in 10 months. What happened?!

If you’re out there reading this, Stingray, come back. The rivalry needs you.

Let’s make this rivalry a rivalry

Not only would beating a top 15 team be huge for the program, it would add a little spice to this so-called rivalry. Benny and Kylin have done their part. So have Kentucky Joe and Starkville’s Strange Brew Coffeehouse:

So let’s take a page from their book. You’re going down, Dogs. And your costumed mascot sucks.


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

15 Comments for The Kentucky-Mississippi State rivalry needs more rivalry

  1. CombatMedic_98
    12:03 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

    It is Football Season….

    • gobble gobble
      12:40 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

      Astute observation, sir

    • gobble gobble
      12:40 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

      Indeed, it is football season

    • CombatMedic_98
      2:27 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

      Ms T is a BBall fan…she’s just now getting on the FBall Wagon as is many more BBall “only” fans (someone noticed)

  2. RackEmWillie
    12:12 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

    The thing with the cross division games, is that they’re kept for 2 (maybe 3) games.

    The cross division stuff didn’t remain for UK v. MSU

    It was for Auburn v. Georgia, UF v. LSU, and Bama v. UT

    It’s a thing for 3 games out of 7. And even then, the Bama/UT game hasn’t been good in a decade. So basically 2 games are the reason for it.

    The cross division schedule for the SEC is pretty bad and isn’t super logical.

    • Cletis75
      12:48 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

      That mascot looks like an overgrown teddy ruxpin! “Can you and I be friends?” Haha, my friend had one of those growing up. I wanted to slap him every time he played with it, until he figured out you could put the beastie boys in that bear. Other than sports, I was a GI Joe kid.

  3. ClutchCargo
    12:47 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

    It’s not a real rivalry, but I’m good with having MSU as our permanent cross-division opponent.

  4. 2Dogs
    1:07 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

    So exactly who would you prefer as our yearly rival? Hopefully someone who doesn’t beat us as much as Miss State does.

  5. bluegrassstu
    1:21 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

    I would prefer Alabama as the cross division opponent.

    • eddiesuttonsliver
      1:33 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

      I’m sure if you gave someone your address they’d be happy to come kick you in the balls once a year. It would be much easier.

    • cats646
      1:58 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink


    • No, please, no. We struggle enough to get to 6 or 7 wins. If we were to consistently, and I mean CONSISTENTLY, start winning 9 or 10 games that would be one thing.

      Oh, and lol @ eddie. I’m sure bluegrass was just yanking our chain, but still…

  6. runningunnin.454
    1:42 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

    Actually, I think Mississippi State is UL’s rival considering they knocked, seems like, three of UL’s sports teams out of the NCAA tournament the last year or so. This includes last year when they beat the Cards in the Gator Bowl even tho’ they didn’t have their starting QB or a head coach.

  7. SuperTroy18
    2:11 pm September 19, 2018 Permalink

    I wouldn’t mind Arkansas as our West rival. Especially this season. We’ve played them really well when we have played. Won in Fayetteville Woodson’s first year starting. The 7 OT classic was against them. And they really hate us. It’s more of a basketball rivalry, but I could definitely see it becoming a decent football one. Even Petrino was there! We would never let them live that down!