Bowl Games: What UM does best

ARLINGTON, Texas – Bowl Games. It's what Ole Miss does best.

With a 21-7 win against Oklahoma State Saturday, the Rebels have now won eight of their last nine bowl games and 21 of 33 all-time. Ole Miss became the first back to back Cotton Bowl champion since Notre Dame won two in a row in 1993-94.

And when the Big 12 Conference sees one of its teams matched up against the Rebels in postseason, they must shake their heads. And be shaking in their boots.

Since 1998, every bowl win the Rebels have in their resume' has come against the Big 12 – that's three in the Cotton Bowl (OSU this year and in 2004; Texas Tech last year), Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Nebraska in three Independence Bowls.

There's going to always be a lot of conversation about whether big-time college football needs a true playoff system. You'll be hard-pressed to get Ole Miss fans to give up the fun they have at bowl games as things are set up now.

Whether it's all those Sugar Bowls from years ago or the bowls they win now, the Rebels have normally made holiday season special for those who follow them.

Bowl games aren't like regular season games. They probably aren't like playoff games. They aren't really designed to be.

Take running Jerrell Powe up the middle twice early in the game. It didn't work either time. But that's the kind of thing you can do in a bowl game and live to deal with later.

And all the turnovers and miscues and even Joshua Shene not having his usual solid day in the field goal department. You wait it out and see how it turns out.

How entirely appropriate that on Dexter McCluster's 86-yard scoring run, it was a handoff from Oklahoman Nathan Stanley that led to his touchdown, and another Oklahoman, Shene, who kicked the extra point.

Ole Miss once lost to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl by a 12-7 final. The Crimson Tide kicked four field goals in that 1964 Classic. Ole Miss turned the football over 11 times.

There was snow on the ground at old Tulane Stadium for that one. Bowl games always bring an element of surprise to a season.

But what they usually also bring for Ole Miss is a win. That's what happened in the 74th Cotton Bowl in the Dallas Cowboys' brand new billion-dollar facility.

At 9-4 it wasn't the season Ole Miss had hoped for. There were so many expectations following an identical 9-4 mark and Cotton Bowl victory a year ago.

But what Saturday afternoon did was give Ole Miss huge momentum heading into the heart of recruiting season. It gave Ole Miss eight months to feel good about itself again.

It gives the entire program momentum to continue to work to get to its most prominent goal remaining – a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.

Houston Nutt mentioned that goal this week. He said Ole Miss remains the only SEC West team not to get there. And he remains committed to making that happen.

It will happen, is how the second-year Rebel head coach put it.

It didn't this year, but right now nobody cares all that much. That's because Ole Miss has yet another bowl on the "W" side of the ledger.

Bowl Games. It truly is what Ole Miss does best.

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