Ninety percent of America predicted Texas Tech, the offensive juggernaut of the Big 12, would steamroll Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl.
90% of America was dead wrong, as in not even close wrong.
After giving up two early touchdowns because of turnovers, the Rebels plowed over, around and through the Red Raiders, outscoring the home team 47-20 over the remainder of the game for a 47-34 margin in the final Cotton Bowl ever played in the Cotton Bowl Stadium.
As chant of "SEC" and "Houston Nutt" showered down on Texas Tech, and with their side of the stadium already half-empty, the Red Raider nation had to be wondering what had hit them.
"I give Mississippi credit," said Mike Leach. "They did the little things right. They did their jobs, they did not panic when we got two quick scores and they just beat us.
"That is the bottom line. They blocked and tackled better than we did for 3 1/2 quarters. Some have asked me if my team was disappointed to be in the Cotton Bowl with 11 regular season wins. If they were, they need to find something else to do like skydiving or skateboarding. This is a great bowl and I think we were ready to play. We have no excuses, especially that one."
The Rebels were feeding off a "something-to-prove" attitude.
"It irked us that nobody gave us a chance except the folks on the team, our coaches and our fans. What has America been watching?" asked Defensive Player of the Game Marshay Green, who had an interception return for a TD and had a long punt return as well. "We have been beating everyone who lined up across from us for the last two months. What does it take to get some respect? Maybe this will do it."
The Rebels outgained the Red Raiders. Let me repeat, the Rebels outgained the Red Raiders 515-469. They were ranked number one in the nation in total yards going into the game.
The Rebels put enough pressure on record-setting QB Graham Harrell to force two interceptions and several misfires.
The Rebels, in a nutshell, wore down the number 7 team in the country. Victory was sure to follow.
"In the third quarter, they were bending over and breathing hard," said All-American LT Michael Oher. "That's when we knew we had them. We weren't even close to being tired. We were as fresh as we could be. Thanks to coach for those extra gassers. They paid off."
From there, the pounding started. Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis and quicksilver, mercurial Dexter McCluster, the game's Offensive MVP, ran through gaping holes and, when needed, Jevan Snead threw a pass or two to keep things honest.
"I thought we would need 35 points to win it," said Coach Houston Nutt, still wet from the Gatorade bath he took as the clock wound down. "That was about right.
"I felt our defense could hold them under 30, but we had too many turnovers for that to happen in the end. Give our defense a lot of credit - that's a terrific offense they held down today. We didn't stop them, but we did as good a job as anybody did.
"They only scored 28 points with their offense. One TD came on an interception return. Our offense, on the other hand, scored 40 points and fumbled once on the one."
The list of heroes is almost endless.
How about nearly 40,000 Rebels making the trip to Dallas? The Rebs had nearly as many people in the stands as Texas Tech and this is their home state and two states away from our home.
How about both lines, who wore down Texas Tech eventually? Their big OL was pretty darn good early in the game, but when they had to chase Peria Jerry and Company play after play after play, they wilted midway through the third quarter.
What about the secondary? Sure, Texas Tech threw for 364 yards, but that's way below their average on the year and both Green and Cassius Vaughn had big interceptions. And speaking of the secondary, senior SS Jamarca Sanford made any TT receivers pay when they came over the middle. Michael Crabtree, a two-time All-American, was a non-factor. Tech did most of their damage underneath, but only a couple of times did they break anything off that was substantial. Most of the time they were tackled as they caught the ball and before they could get their motors going.
What about QB Jevan Snead? He had one terrible pass early, then he was lights out, throwing for three scores and distributing the ball around like a wizard.
What about the Rebel receivers? Thank you TE Gerald Harris for your two TD catches and senior Mike Wallace's TD catch was nothing short of spectacular.
What about the Rebel coaches? They had the team ready. That's the bottom line. To keep a team relatively sharp after a five-week layoff is coaching, folks. Pure and simple. The gameplan was simple, but effective, and after throwing to the tight end only five or six times all year, they saved two big ones for the Cotton Bowl. Another key coaching point. The Rebels did not panic when they found themselves down 14-0 in the first quarter, and the coaches were instrumental in that calming of the troops.
For an unsung hero, how about David Hankins? Who, you may ask? When Justin Sparks could not dress out due to mono, Hankins, who has never played, handled kickoff duties and did a very admirable job.
And last, but not least, Dexter McCluster. Well, maybe he is the least, size-wise, but nobody came up bigger on the day.
He "only" had 180 yards of total offense, but his yardage routinely came at the most critical times. When the Rebs needed it the most, they fed the ball to Dex, and he delivered.
Yes, the list could continue, but you get the point.
The Rebels were the masters of the Cotton Bowl universe today.
And hardly anyone gave them a shot.
In fact, a Kansas City newspaper this morning had a headline that read: "Texas Tech vs. Nobody."
Guess what? The nobodies took the somebodies to the woodshed.
And it was fairly thorough.
90% of America is wrong!
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