F U N = W I N

DALLAS – On Nov. 28, 2007, in the Ford Center on the Ole Miss campus, Houston Nutt told everyone how to spell fun. It wasn't the way your first-grade teacher taught you to spell it.

"The way you spell fun is W I N," he said.

For the past six games, that's all the Rebels have done.

Win. And have fun.

Ole Miss closed out a special season at 9-4 with a 47-34 win over powerful and Top 10 foe Texas Tech. But it was the Rebels who looked like a Top 10 team.

The Cotton Bowl closed its doors on an era today. Down the interstate to Arlington it moves after 73 years here in Fair Park.

Ole Miss is now 3-1 in this event. Tech is 0-4.

Winning is indeed fun. Ole Miss wins bowl games. That's victories in seven of its last eight bowl games, and 20 of its 32 all-time appearances.

But it had been five years since the Rebels had been bowling. Five years since they won a bowl game. Five years since they had a winning season. Five years since they'd had much fun playing football.

But that all changed late last November.

It helps when you have a coaching staff that knows how to win. And to have fun.

It helps when your star-in-the-making quarterback basically becomes that.

It helps when your defense grows and grows and grows up as the season continues.

It helps when you can become one of the country's most proficient rushing teams. You can run it and play keep away from the other team by hanging onto that football.

And hanging onto that football became a hallmark of this team. Jevan Snead threw less interceptions. The Rebels had less fumbles.

That fumble today down deep in Red Raider territory by Enrique Davis would have put this game away even earlier had he scored to make it 45-28.

Yes, at that moment there were flashbacks to Vandy and South Carolina and earlier moments this season. But this team is way past that.

This team didn't let a little thing like a fumble going in for the kill bother it. The defense just stepped up and swamped the all-time touchdown passing leader in NCAA history for a safety.

Landsharks were swarming on this day.

Here to me was the first sign that the Rebels were going to be in it all day long. (I hadn't yet decided they were going to run away with it as they did, although I will admit I was fairly confident of victory in the days leading up to the contest.).

Ole Miss was behind 14-0. A lesser team might have been shell-shocked. Then came a terrific first down play into Tech territory that was overturned by review. Snead connected with Markeith Summers at the Tech 40 on the Red Raider sideline. But after checking it out further, officials called it incomplete.

The Rebels, behind two scores and with seemingly little going their way, didn't appear rattled. They went back to work, continued to drive goalward, and when Gerald Harris grabbed a pass from Snead and ran slap over a Red Raider defender, bulling his way in for the Rebels' first score? Well, you knew the Rebs were back in it. And you knew they were here to W I N.

There was a lot of work still to be done at that point, but they had made a statement with that first score. Before Texas Tech knew what hit 'em, the Rebels were on a 38-7 run and headed toward victory.

W I N. Now that is indeed F U N.

Of course, we all learned how to spell it correctly late last November, thanks to a head coach and coaching staff who knew how to do both.


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