This year we take a look back at five of the most historic rivalries traditionally played on Thanksgiving Day, featuring two games from each series with each side claiming a victory. If you choose to use this content in whole or in part, as a courtesy, please credit The National Football Foundation.
Nov. 26, 1998 No. 25 Mississippi State def. Mississippi, 28-6
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Mississippi
Mississippi State secured the SEC West title and its first and only trip to the SEC Championship Game with a 28-6 win over Ole Miss. Bulldogs RB James Johnson scored two first-half TDs, and Wayne Madkin threw a TD pass late in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Rebels RB Deuce McAllister ran for 177 yds on 40 carries, but it was not enough to overcome the inexperience of freshman walk-on quarterback David Morris. Morris finished 8-of-24 for 75 yards and three interceptions. It was the third-straight loss for Ole Miss and their last game under Head Coach and future U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville, who left for Auburn. State would go on to lose to eventual national champion Tennessee in the SEC title game and to Heisman winner Ricky Williams and Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
Nov. 27, 2003 No. 17 Mississippi def. Mississippi State, 31-0
Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Mississippi
In the 100th playing of the Egg Bowl, Ole Miss QB and NFF National Scholar-Athlete Eli Manning threw for 260 yards and three TDs as the Rebels shut out Mississippi State, 31-0. The loss was the final game for Bulldogs head coach Jackie Sherrill, who completed his 13-year tenure in Starkville with a 75-75-2 record. For Ole Miss, the win marked its first shut out of State since 1971 while clinching a tie for its first and only SEC West title (lost out to eventual national champion LSU) and a nine-win regular season for the first time in 13 years. Manning closed out his stand-out career with a win in the Cotton Bowl over Oklahoma State to give Ole Miss the No. 13 ranking in the final AP Poll.
Nov. 28, 1963 No. 1 Texas def. Texas A&M, 15-13
Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
Texas Back Duke Carlisle capped a 15-play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard TD run with 1:19 left in the fourth quarter to seal the school’s first national championship in a 15-13 thriller over Texas A&M. The Longhorns entered the final quarter trailing by 10 to an Aggie team that had only won two games all season. Texas RB and team captain Tommy Ford, who rushed for 113 yards, got the comeback started with a two-yard TD run with under 13 minutes to play. The game-winning drive almost wasn’t. Longhorn QB Tommy Wade was intercepted by A&M’s John Brotherton. But Brotherton fumbled the ball, returning it to Texas. During the subsequent Texas drive, A&M’s Jim Willenborg came close to another interception, but the referees ruled he was juggling the ball when he went out of bounds. Hall of Fame Coach Darrell Royal’s team re-confirmed their Championship pedigree on New Year’s Day, beating Heisman Trophy recipient Roger Staubach and No. 2 Navy in the Cotton Bowl to claim the national title.
Nov. 26, 1992 No. 4 Texas A&M def. Texas, 34-13
Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
With under four minutes left in the game and trailing by 14 points, Texas QB Peter Gardere converted a 4th and 20, setting the Horns up at the Aggie 11-yard line. A&M CB Aaron Glenn promptly ended the comeback on the next play as his 95-yard interception return for a TD provided the final points in a 34-13 win for the Aggies. More importantly, the win finished a 12-0 regular season, A&M’s first unbeaten regular season since their 1939 national championship team. The vaunted Wrecking Crew defense sacked Gardere five times and the Aggie running game accounted for 237 yards and three TDs. Unfortunately, A&M joined three other unbeaten teams at the conclusion of the regular season, and it was denied an opportunity to play for the national championship. The Aggies lost to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl and would finish the season ranked No. 7 while Texas would rebound to win the Sun Bowl but finished unranked.
Nov. 25, 1971 No. 1 Nebraska def. No. 2 Oklahoma, 35-31
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma
In arguably the greatest football game ever played on Thanksgiving Day, Nebraska TB Jeff Kinney scored his fourth TD of the game with 98 seconds left to give the top ranked Huskers a 35-31 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma. The game featured 17 First Team All-Big 8 players and four members of the College Football Hall of Fame while attracting the largest audience to ever watch a college football game on TV (55m). College Football Hall of Famer Johnny Rodgers’ electric 72-yard punt return for a TD after OU’s opening possession set the tone for the back and forth affair, and the play remains one of college football’s iconic moments. The Sooners twice overcame 11-point deficits, taking the lead with seven minutes left. However, the Huskers responded with a 74-yard drive for the win. Kinney ran for 171 yds on 31 carries. Hall of Famer Rich Glover dominated the OU offense, accounting for 22 tackles. Nebraska would go on to beat Alabama in the Orange Bowl and claim their second straight national championship. Oklahoma routed Auburn in the Sugar Bowl to finish the season No. 2.
Nov. 23, 1972 No. 4 Oklahoma def. No. 5 Nebraska, 17-14
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska
College Football Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney’s final home game at Nebraska ended in bitter fashion, as Oklahoma defeated the Huskers, 17-14. The loss was Big Red’s first at home in 23 games and first conference loss since 1969. OU held Nebraska’s rushing attack to 77 yards, Johnny Rogers to four yards, and forced David Humm to throw three interceptions. Despite the defensive dominance, the Sooners still trailed heading into the fourth quarter. Oklahoma RB Grant Burget scored from one yard out to tie the game, and Rich Fulcher kicked a 41-yard field goal with 8:44 left to secure the win for the Sooners. Oklahoma would go on to win the Big 8 title, beat Penn State in the Sugar Bowl and finish No. 2 for the second year in a row. Head coach Chuck Fairbanks left after the season for the NFL, and he was replaced by offensive coordinator and future Hall of Fame Coach Barry Switzer. Devaney closed out his career in style, whipping Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl. He remained Athletics Director and promoted his offensive coordinator, Hall of Famer Tom Osborne, to head coach.
Nov. 30, 1922 Cornell def. Pennsylvania, 9-0
Franklin Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cornell (8-0) claimed its second straight national championship with a 9-0 win over rival Penn. The shutout of the Quakers was not much of a surprise as the Big Red outscored its opponents 339-27 in 1922. Hall of Fame coach Gil Dobie’s Cornell squad extended its winning streak to 16 games, eventually reaching 26 games before a loss to Williams (MA) in the third contest of the 1924 season. Penn finished Hall of Fame Coach John Heisman’s third season with a 6-3 record, losing three of its last four games to Alabama, Pittsburgh and Cornell.
Nov. 27, 1947
No. 8 Pennsylvania def. Cornell, 21-0
Franklin Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In front of more than 80,000 fans at Franklin Field, Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik and the Penn Quakers completed an unbeaten season with a 21-0 win over Cornell. Bob Deuber ran for a seven-yard TD in the first quarter and Skippy Minisi threw two TD passes to provide Hall of Fame Coach George Munger his only unbeaten campaign. The win was enough to move 7-0-1 Penn up one spot to No. 7 in the final AP Poll while the Big Red finished the season 4-5.
Nov. 24, 1949
Cincinnati def. Miami (OH), 27-6
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
In 1947, Hall of Fame coach Sid Gillman led Miami (OH) to an undefeated season that ended with a win in the Sun Bowl. The highlight of the season was not in El Paso, but at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, where his squad handed Cincinnati their only conference loss of the season. He was carried off the field. Two years later, Thanksgiving Day repeated itself…sort of. Gillman was once again carried off the field at Nippert, but this time, it was as the first-year head coach of the Bearcats. Miami, led by first-year coach and eventual Hall of Famer Woody Hayes, was a 13-point favorite entering the game that would decide the MAC championship, but Cincy’s ground attack would carry the day in a 27-6 win in front of a crowd of 28,000-plus. Despite the presence of Miami tackle Bo Schembechler, Cincinnati’s Howard Bellamah had a 55-yard touchdown run and Bob Stratton ran for three touchdowns for the MAC Champs. Cincy would go on to beat Toledo in the Glass Bowl to finish 7-4 while Miami’s season ended at 5-4.
Nov. 28, 1963
Miami (OH) def. Cincinnati, 21-19
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
The untimely death of US President John F Kennedy returned the Victory Bell battle to its traditional Thanksgiving Day kickoff. First year Miami (OH) head coach Bo Schembechler’s squad, led by All-MAC QB Ernie Kellerman, took down Missouri Valley Conference co-champ and rival Cincinnati, 21-19. The strange game saw Miami finish with 414 yards of offense and hold a 78-41 advantage in plays run while also throwing four interceptions in the final 80 seconds of the first half. In the end, Bo’s defense ultimately won the game. On two separate occasions in the second half, the Bearcats missed on two-point conversions, the latter with under four minutes to play. Cincinnati QB Brig Owens’ pass fell short, and Miami ran out the clock for its fourth-straight win over UC to finish the season 5-3-2. The loss marked the second in a row for the Bearcats who finished 6-4.