December 06, 2015

Mississippi and Oklahoma State get to renew their recent postseason rivalry in the Sugar Bowl.

The matchup was announced on Sunday and it will be the third time since 2004 that the Rebels (9-3, No. 12 CFP) and Cowboys (10-2, No. 16 CFP) meet in the postseason. The first two meetings were at the Cotton Bowl and Ole Miss won both - 31-28 on Jan. 2, 2004 and 21-7 on Jan. 2, 2010.

Now they will play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Jan. 1.

Ole Miss, ranked No. 16, returns to a New Year's Six bowl for the second straight season and would like to play better than last year. The Rebels were embarrassed in a 42-3 loss to TCU in the Peach Bowl.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said on Sunday that he wouldn't remind players much about the TCU loss. Instead, he hopes the lessons learned from that game will help the program moving forward.

''I'm proud of our program for being one of the few to make it back to a `New Year's Six' bowl,'' Freeze said. ''My childhood was spent hearing Rebel fans talk about Archie (Manning) leading us to a Sugar Bowl win, and I'm thrilled for our players, coaches and fans to return to New Orleans and represent the Southeastern Conference.''

Oklahoma State will try to bounce back after more recent setbacks. The 13th-ranked Cowboys won their first 10 games of the season before back-to-back losses to Baylor and Oklahoma.

The Cowboys likely jumped Baylor for a spot in the Sugar Bowl when the Bears lost to Texas on Saturday.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said he was at an 11-year-old basketball tournament in rural Oklahoma when the Baylor-Texas game was happening and didn't have cellphone service. He didn't realize that Texas had pulled off the upset until he left, drove down the road a few miles and his phone lit up with messages.

''What a great opportunity for our young men who have worked so hard over the last 11 months,'' Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. ''Congrats to Ole Miss and their team. We're looking forward to a great game in a historic bowl.''


Here are some other things to watch in this year's Sugar Bowl:

LONG TIME, NO SEE: It'll be the first time in a while that both these programs get to experience some fun times in the French Quarter. Ole Miss hasn't been to the Sugar Bowl since 1970 when Archie Manning was the quarterback while Oklahoma State will be making its first appearance in the Big Easy since 1946. Said Freeze on Sunday: ''It's kind of a bucket list thing if you're the coach of Ole Miss to participate in this bowl.''

POINTS GALORE: All signs point to a shootout in this year's Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma State ranks ninth in the country with 41.2 points per game while Ole Miss isn't far behind at 14th with 40.3 points per game. Both teams love to throw the ball and have star receivers - Laquon Treadwell at Ole Miss and James Washington at Oklahoma State. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly led the Southeastern Conference with 3,740 yards passing.

QUALITY DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: There will be a lot of focus on the offensive ability of these two teams, but both schools also have some defensive linemen capable of disrupting the other team's quarterback. Ole Miss defensive end Marquis Haynes leads the team with 14 tackles for a loss, including 9 1/2 sacks, and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is expected to be a first-round pick in this year's NFL draft. Oklahoma State counters with Emmanuel Ogbah, whose 13 sacks rank fourth in the country.

RETURN OF RUDOLPH? Oklahoma State's chances of winning the Sugar Bowl will likely be better if starting quarterback Mason Rudolph can return from a foot injury. Rudolph missed most of the season finale against Oklahoma because of the injury, forcing backup J.W. Walsh into action.


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