Postgame Points : Ole Miss 48, Oklahoma State 20
1. Sugar Bowl Champions
It was “Ole So Sweet” for the Ole Miss Rebels in New Orleans on Friday night. No. 12 Ole Miss served up a sweet Sugar Bowl smackdown of No. 16 Oklahoma State inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on New Year’s Day. The Rebel offense performed like a fine-tuned Mercedes-Benz, racing up and down the Superdome field. The Rebel defense smothered the potent Cowboy offense like Café Du Monde smothers its world-famous beignets in powdered sugar. These 2 ingredients were the recipe for success, as Ole Miss crushed Oklahoma State 48-20 to claim the 82nd annual Allstate Sugar Bowl Trophy.
The Rebels are Sugar Bowl Champions for the first time since Archie Manning and Coach Johnny Vaught led Ole Miss past Arkansas in the 1970 Sugar Bowl at Tulane Stadium. The Rebels are now 6-3 in their nine Sugar Bowl appearances. Ole Miss and LSU are tied for the second-most Sugar Bowl wins with six apiece, trailing only Alabama (8).
Ole Miss now owns an all-time bowl record of 24-13. With 24 bowl victories, Ole Miss sits tied for ninth-place alongside LSU and Georgia Tech in all-time bowl wins. With the triumph over Oklahoma State, the Rebels pass the Cowboys for second in all-time bowl winning percentage with a mark of .649, which trails only USC.
Finally, Ole Miss is now 3-0 against Oklahoma State. All three wins have come in bowl games. The Rebels improve to 10-4 in bowl games against teams currently in the Big 12 Conference. Ole Miss is 3-1 in bowl games in four seasons under the leadership of Coach Hugh Freeze.
2. Ten Wins
Ole Miss finishes the 2015 season with a 10-3 record. The ten wins are the most in a season for the Rebels since Eli Manning led the 2003 squad to a 10-3 mark. It is the seventh time in the storied history of Ole Miss football that the Rebels have won ten games in a season.
Ole Miss ends the year with a 5-1 mark against ranked opponents. It is the first time in school history that the Rebels have defeated five ranked teams in a single season. Further, the win over Oklahoma State is the Rebels’ first victory over a ranked non-SEC team since the Cotton Bowl win over the Cowboys in 2010.
3. Overpowering Offense
The Rebels offense was firing on all cylinders from start to finish in the Sugar Bowl. The offense set records for the most total yards and most points scored in Ole Miss bowl history. The overpowering offense racked up 554 yards of total offense; the Rebels scorched the Cowboys’ secondary for 347 yards through the air, while the ground attack pounded the Cowboys’ defensive front to the tune of 207 yards.
Ole Miss scored at least a touchdown in all four quarters. The Rebels really blew the game open with a sensational second-quarter effort, where Ole Miss scored 24 points to take a commanding 34-6 halftime lead. Those 34 first-half points matched the Sugar Bowl record for points in a half and left little doubt as to which team would hoist the Sugar Bowl trophy.
4. Dominant Defense
While the offense was shattering records, a dominant defense was doing its part to ensure Ole Miss would walk out of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with the Sugar Bowl trophy in its possession. The Landsharks limited Oklahoma State to just a pair of field goals in the first-half while building a decisive 34-6 lead. The Cowboys managed a pair of late touchdowns in the second-half when the outcome was already determined in favor of the Rebels.
In holding Oklahoma State to just 20 points on the night, the stout Rebel defense simply suffocated the Cowboys’ potent offense. Oklahoma State came into the game averaging 41.2 points per game, the ninth-best mark in college football this year. The Landsharks made this high-octane offense look mediocre, as the Cowboys scored their lowest point total of the season.
Ole Miss held Oklahoma State to just 366 yards of total offense, including a meager 63 rushing yards in the game. The defensive dominance was most-evident in the opening 15 minutes, when the Cowboys recorded just 36 total yards, -8 rushing yards, and a mere 3 points.
On the season, Oklahoma State averaged 490 yards of total offense per game. For the Rebels to keep the Cowboys 124 yards below their average is a statement as to how strong the defensive front played in being able to control the line of scrimmage throughout the game.
5. Rebel Helmet Stickers
While this was a tremendous team victory, several players deserve to be awarded Rebel helmet stickers for outstanding performances. Chad Kelly paced the offense by completing 21-of-33 passes for 302 yards and 4 touchdowns. Kelly led the running game with 73 yards, as well, in garnering Sugar Bowl MVP honors.
Evan Engram topped all receivers in the Sugar Bowl with 6 catches and 96 receiving yards. Teammate Laquon Treadwell followed Engram with 6 receptions for 71 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cody Core completed his Rebel career with 4 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
DeMarquis Gates and D.J. Jones contributed 5 tackles each, with Jones adding a sack. Marquis Haynes and C.J. Johnson were responsible for 2 sacks. Tony Bridges broke up 3 pass plays, while Breeland Speaks recovered a fumble.
(Feature image credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)