SEC bowl notebook

The Ole Miss Rebels (6-6, 3-5 SEC) will take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-6, 3-5 Big 12) in the Mainstay Independence Bowl. The game will take place Friday, December 27, at 3:30 pm (CST) at Independence Stadium (50,459) in Shreveport, Louisiana. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN.

Ole Miss Facts

Head Coach: David Cutcliffe (Alabama, 1976)
Record at Ole Miss: 29-19 (.604) / 4th season
Overall Record: 29-19 (.604) / 4th season
Cutcliffe's Record In Bowl Games: 2-1 (.667)

National Ranking: Not Ranked
Ole Miss in Bowl Games: 17-12 (.586)
Ole Miss in Independence Bowls: 3-1 (.750)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2000 Music City (lost to West Virginia, 38-49)
Last Independence Bowl Appearance: 1999 Independence (def. Oklahoma, 27-15)
Formations: Offense - Multiple Pro Defense - Mutliple 4-3
Internet Web Address: www.olemissports.com

2002 Ole Miss Schedule/Results:

8/31, Louisiana Monroe, W, 31-3
9/7, Memphis, W, 38-16
9/14, at Texas Tech, L, 28-42
9/21, Vanderbilt, W, 45-38
10/5, Florida, W, 17-14
10/12, Arkansas State, W, 52-17
10/19, at Alabama, L, 7-42
10/26, at Arkansas, L, 28-48
11/2, Auburn, L, 24-31
11/9, at Georgia, L, 17-31
11/23, at LSU, L, 13-14
11/28, Mississippi State, W, 24-12

Ole Miss Key Players

QB Eli Manning (6-4, 215, Jr., New Orleans, La.)
Second-team All-SEC by Associated Press ... Led SEC in passing yards per game, averaging 257.3 per contest ... Leads SEC in total offense, averaging 249.3 yards per game ... Sixth in SEC in pass efficiency with 125.7 rating ... Completed 254 of 437 passes for 3,088 yards with 20 TDs and 15 INTs ... Is 19th in SEC history in career completions (529) and 16th in career TD passes (51) ... Is fourth active career passing yardage leader in SEC with 6,206 yards.

SS Matt Grier (6-1, 190, Sr., Smithville, Miss.)
First-team All-SEC by the league's coaches and The Sporting News ... Second team All-SEC by Associated Press ... Second on squad in total tackles with 70 (48 solos), including 11 behind the line (-42) ... Also had three sacks (-25), 5 INTs and two forced fumbles ... Named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Florida (2 INTs, 1 returned for TD).

LB Eddie Strong (6-4, 245, Sr., Batesville, Miss.)
First-team All-SEC by the league's coaches ... Fifth on squad in total tackles with 55 (36 solos) ... Accounted for seven tackles for losses (-35), including three sacks (-28) ... Forced three fumbles ... Missed the first four games of the season with injury.

C Ben Claxton (6-3, 288, Sr., Dublin, Ga.)
Second-team All-SEC by the league's coaches and Associated Press ... Claxton was the leader of the Rebel offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the SEC with only 13 in 2002 ... The offense also generated over 350 yards of total offense in seven games, including four games of 450 yards or better.

Ole Miss Team Notes

  • Ole Miss has been to five bowl games in the last six years ...
  • Rebels have won six of their last eight bowl trips, dating back to 1986 ...
  • The Rebels will be vying for their seventh win of the season ...
  • Coming into 2002, Ole Miss has won at least seven games in five straight seasons ...
  • Not since 1952-63, has the school accomplished as many 7-win seasons in a row.

Nebraska Cornhuskers Facts

Head Coach: Frank Solich (Nebraska, 1966)
Record at Nebraska: 49-15 (.766) / 5th season
Solich's overall record: 49-15 (.766) / 5th season
Solich's record in bowl Games: 2-2 (.500)

Conference: Big 12
National Ranking: Not Ranked
Nebraska in Bowl Games: 20-20 (.500)
Nebraska in Independence Bowls: First Appearance
Last Bowl Appearance: 2002 Rose (lost to Miami, Fla., 14-37)
Formations: Offense - I-formation Defense - 4-3
Internet Web Address: www.huskers.com

2002 Nebraska Schedule/Results:

8/24, Arizona State, W, 48-10
8/31, Troy State, W, 31-16
9/7, Utah State, W, 44-13
9/14, at Penn State, L, 7-40
9/28, at Iowa State, L, 14-36
10/5, McNeese State, W, 38-14
10/12, Missouri, W, 24-13
10/19, at Oklahoma State, L, 21-24
10/26, at Texas A&M, W, 38-31
11/2, Texas, L, 24-27
11/9, Kansas, W, 45-7
11/16, at Kansas State, L, 13-49
11/29, Colorado, L, 13-28

Key Cornhusker Players

CB DeJuan Groce (5-10, 190, Sr., Garfield Heights, Ohio)
Named second-team All-Big 12 as an all-purpose performer and defensive back ... Credited with 56 tackles (36 solos) ... Also had four interceptions and seven pass deflections ... Averaged 18.0 yards on 35 punt returns and returned three for TDs, which led the Big 12 and is third in the nation.

QB Jamaal Lord (6-2, 210, Jr., Bayonne, N.J.)
Led the Huskers in rushing and passing in his first full season as a starting quarterback ... Rushed for 1,329 yards on 234 attempts and eight TDs, which is 33rd in the nation overall and second among quarterbacks ... Also completed 88 of 188 passes for 1,269 yards with 11 TDs and 10 INTs

Nebraska Team Notes

  • Nebraska has been to a bowl every year since 1969 ...
  • The Huskers had played in three straight January bowls until this season ...
  • Nebraska's 40 bowl appearances is tied for fourth best in the nation and its 20 wins are tied for sixth best ...
  • The Huskers are fourth in the nation in rushing offense (268.9) but are 112th in passing offense (105.3).

Series/Game Notes

  • Series Record: First Meeting
  • Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe was the offensive coordinator at Tennessee when Nebraska defeated the Vols, 42-17, in the 1998 Orange Bowl, which led the Huskers to the national championship ...
  • Nebraska is 19-4-1 against current members of the SEC (2-3 vs. Alabama, 0-1 vs. Arkansas, 3-0 vs. Auburn, 2-0 vs. Florida, 1-0 vs. Georgia, 5-0-1 vs. LSU, 1-0 vs. Miss. State, 3-0 vs. South Carolina, 2-0 vs. Tennessee) ...
  • Ole Miss is 5-13 vs. current members of the Big 12 (0-1 vs. Baylor, 1-5 vs. Texas, 0-4 vs. Texas A&M, 2-0 vs. Texas Tech, 1-0 vs. Oklahoma, 1-3 vs. Missouri).

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