By JOEL COLEMAN
The rivalry between Mississippi State and Ole Miss runs deep in the Myles family.
Years before current MSU sophomore wide receiver Gabe Myles was even born, his father, former Bulldog defensive back Eddie Myles, was lining up against the Rebels in the Battle for the Golden Egg.
The elder Myles played for Mississippi State from 1987 through 1990. The Bulldogs got just one win over the Rebels in that time frame, but the stories Eddie Myles has relayed to his son about those four years laid the foundation for how Gabe Myles feels about Ole Miss now.
“One year when he played, (MSU and Ole Miss) actually got into a brawl on the field,” Gabe Myles said about his father’s playing days. “He just told me about all the craziness that happened out there and it made me think ‘We’re really supposed to hate these guys out there on the field.’”
Eddie Myles’ tales might have influenced little Gabe, but the younger Myles saw his disdain for Ole Miss grow even further as he got older. While too young at the time to recall the year, Gabe Myles still remembers his very first taste of the Egg Bowl.
“My earliest memory wasn’t a good one,” Gabe Myles said. “We lost. But I remember being at the game and seeing (Ole Miss players) coming out off the sidelines making airplane gestures like they were flying or something. After that, it was just, ‘I don’t like these guys.’ It’s been awhile, but I remember that I didn’t like that and if I ever had the opportunity to play against them, I didn’t want that to happen.”
As an active player however, Gabe Myles did experience defeat in his first-ever contest against Ole Miss. Last year in Oxford, Mississippi State fell 31-17. That still sticks with the former Starkville High School standout and he’d like to respond by enhancing the feelings he had watching on during MSU’s 17-10 overtime win over Ole Miss in 2013.
“It’d be great (to defeat Ole Miss) and I really want to know what that feeling is like,” Gabe Myles said. “My redshirt freshman year we won, but I didn’t contribute, so I want to see how it feels to contribute and win the Egg Bowl. It’d all be brand new to me.”
Gabe Myles enters Saturday’s matchup against the Rebels on the heels of a performance at Arkansas where he posted a career-best 69 receiving yards. The game against the Razorbacks was his third game back after sitting out the Troy, Louisiana Tech and Kentucky victories due to an injury he sustained at Texas A&M on Oct. 3.
Gabe Myles indicated he’s not too concerned about where he is physically as he gets ready for the Rebels. He’s instead focused on getting his mind right for the emotional contest.
“That’s the whole thing is to just be mentally prepared for it,” Gabe Myles said. “God has me out there and he’s going to take care of me. That’s how I’m going to go about it. I’m going to just do my best and do everything I can for my team.”
Gabe Myles hopes his efforts go a long way towards sending Mississippi State’s 15 seniors out on a winning note in their final game at Davis Wade Stadium. Having gone to war with the group for the last two seasons, Gabe Myles plans to do all he can to let his teammates exit their home field for the last time as victors.
“These seniors, I actually know and I’ve played with them for a couple of years,” Gabe Myles said. “(Winning) would mean the world to them. My fraternity brother (MSU senior cornerback) Taveze Calhoun, we’re close and I want him to go out in a blaze of glory. I want them to get that Egg Bowl trophy back here at home.”
Gabe Myles says the high hopes don’t end with Saturday’s game. After limping to the finish line last year when Mississippi State lost three of its final four games including the Orange Bowl, Gabe Myles says the team wants to flip the script this season.
“We’re looking forward to finishing strong,” Gabe Myles said. “We want to finish the season with wins this time around. Last year, we finished with losses and that kind of left a bitter taste in our mouths so I just want to finish with W’s.”
The first step to accomplishing Gabe Myles’ mission is toppling the Ole Miss team he has loathed for nearly his entire life. He knows that task won’t be easy though as the Rebels don’t exactly have much love for the Bulldogs either.
“My thing is to just stay focused and take it play by play,” Gabe Myles said. “In all, it’s just a game that, when we line up in front of each other, there are no friendships and we just really want to make sure we get that (Egg Bowl) trophy back to Starkville.”