Ole Miss (8-4) vs. Oklahoma State (9-3)
Jan 2., 2 p.m., (FOX)
Ole Miss gets a return trip to Dallas, this time getting to play in the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium. The Rebels can only hope the whole Cotton Bowl experience is as much fun as last season when they shredded Texas Tech.
The end of this regular season wasn’t much fun for anybody in Oxford. Ole Miss was whipped 41-27 by rival Mississippi State, solidifying the Rebels as the toughest team to figure this season in the SEC. They didn’t live up to their top-10 billing early, but then hit a stretch in October and November where they did look like the real deal, only to bow meekly to the Bulldogs in the Egg Bowl.
After a brilliant debut season in the SEC, junior quarterback Jevan Snead threw 17 interceptions and was one of the more disappointing players in the league. He never found a rhythm and didn’t play with a lot of confidence at times.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt didn’t put Dexter McCluster at running back full time until midway through the season, and boy, did he take off. Always a threat to go the distance, McCluster rushed for 821 yards in his last five SEC games.
Nutt and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy go back a ways. Nutt was an assistant coach on Oklahoma State’s staff when Gundy was the Cowboys’ quarterback in the 1980s.