For the fifth time in Cotton Bowl history, which spans 74 years, the Ole Miss Rebels will be one of the participants.
The Rebs' opponent will be a rematch from the 2004 Cotton Bowl - 18th-ranked Oklahoma State - when QB Eli Manning led Ole Miss to a scintillating 31-28 victory over the Cowboys.
The contest has some of the new and some of the old, or familiar, blended in.
The January 2nd contest will be played in the billion dollar Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington. Both teams will also hold their daily practices in that magnificent facility.
"We normally don't like to have the same team (Ole Miss) back two years in a row, but the fact we are in a new venue kind of diminishes that thinking," said Cotton Bowl President Rick Baker. "Our history with Ole Miss has been very special and we wanted them to experience something new and a different perspective.
"We feel Ole Miss and Oklahoma State will be a terrific matchup. Ole Miss closed out our tenure in the old stadium and will open up our tenure in the new one. We think that is appropriate."
There is also a history between Rebel Coach Houston Nutt and Cowboys Coach Mike Gundy.
Gundy was the Cowboys quarterback when Nutt was an assistant coach under Jimmy Johnson at Oklahoma State, which is also Nutt's alma mater.
"We knew when Mike was a freshman that he had special leadership qualities. We knew who we wanted running our offense," said Nutt. "He was such a confident player and he knew how to move the chains and score. He's the same as a head coach.
"We had some great times with Mike and Barry Sanders and Hart Lee Dykes. I also met my wife, Diana, at Oklahoma State, so I have a lot of history and great memories."
"We had some great times. I have always followed Coach Nutt's career," said Gundy. "Late at night, when I'm flipping channels to watch that late SEC game, his teams always find a way to move the ball and win. I have a great amount of respect for Coach Nutt. He has always found a way to run the football and I think that is something we both learned from our playing/coaching days at Oklahoma State.
"We've been together before and it all goes back to the ties of hard work. I am also anxious for Coach Nutt to meet my three sons. They are excited to meet him as well."
Both teams entered the 2009 season with high expectations and both hit the wall a couple of times. The Cowboys enter the game 9-3 with a 6-2 Big 12 record and for the fourth straight year led the conference in rushing. Ole Miss enters with an 8-4 overall records and a 4-4 worksheet in the SEC.
"They had less wins than Texas Tech last year and beat them handily. Their record means little to me," Gundy laughed. "Like Ole Miss, we were in uncharted waters. We were on the cover of SI and all that. We handled it well at times and not so well at others, but my kids stayed focused and kept their work ethic. Like Coach Nutt, I wish I had a couple of games back to do over, but we are very proud of what we accomplished."
Nutt had a similar experience with his Rebels.
"We went through some tough times this year, but our guys kept working and persevered," Nutt stated. "I'll be the first to tell you we were not satisfied with our year, but overall, we were proud of what we did in the long haul and proud to have an opportunity to play in a great bowl like the Cotton Bowl."
Ole Miss fans can order tickets at the Ole Miss website: www.olemisssports.com.
There are also a limited number of tickets available at ATTCottonBowl.com.
Get your orders in quickly, Ole Miss AD Pete Boone stated.
"Our tickets are going very fast. There is a lot of excitement about the Cotton Bowl. We had great representation last year and will again this year," Boone said. "I hope everyone who wants one is able to get a ticket."
It's finally official. Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl!
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