Sugar Bowl MVP Kelly shines in Ole Miss’ record-breaking win over Oklahoma State
Sheer joy. That was the emotion justifiably etched across the face of Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly Friday night after the Rebels’ 48-20 win over Oklahoma State in the 2016 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
The junior signal-caller grinned from ear to ear as he jumped up and down on the championship dais following Ole Miss’ victory. He smiled as he joined in the exuberant “Hotty Toddy” chants from the crowd and initiated a “one more year” chant directed at star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell who many believe will soon declare for the upcoming NFL Draft.
The Buffalo, NY native certainly deserved to smile after a record-breaking performance that earned him the Most Valuable Player trophy.
Kelly completed 21-of-33 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 73 yards. He tied the Sugar Bowl record for touchdown throws and set a new record for the most ever by an Ole Miss player in a bowl game.
But that’s not all Kelly accomplished in the Rebels’ win. He also broke Bo Wallace’s school record for pass completions in a season with 298 and tied Eli Manning’s record for passing TDs in a season (31).
Perhaps not even Kelly, himself, realized the magnitude of his achievements this season until he was in the postgame press conference. The Ole Miss quarterback finished the season with a total of 4,542 yards, placing him third in SEC history behind only Johnny Manziel’s 2012 (5,116) and 2013 (4,873) seasons.
His season-total of 4,042 passing yards is also third-best in SEC history behind Tim Couch (4,275 in 1998) and Manziel (4,114 in 2013). Kelly is only the third SEC QB to ever throw for more than 4,000 yards.
The Rebel Walk asked Kelly if he knew he passed Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Dak Prescott for total yards in a season in the SEC. Kelly paused for a second and then grinned as he said, “I do now.”
Just as Kelly answered, head coach Hugh Freeze leaned in, fist-bumped his quarterback and joked, “It was the play-calling.”
They both then laughed—and smiled.
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.