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No. 8 Ole Miss Earns Bid to AllState Sugar Bowl, Rebels will face No. 7 Baylor in New Orleans

No. 8 Ole Miss Earns Bid to AllState Sugar Bowl, Rebels will face No. 7 Baylor in New Orleans

OXFORD, Miss. – Sweet. Ole Miss received the news it will play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl New Year’s Day against Big 12 champion, seventh-ranked Baylor.

The No. 8 Rebels will make their first appearance since 2016 when they beat Oklahoma State, 48-20. Ole Miss is 6-3 in the Sugar Bowl.

Baylor played Georgia in the 2020 Sugar Bowl and lost, 26-14. In 1957, the Bears’ only other appearance in the Sugar Bowl, they upset No. 2 Tennessee, 13-7. 

This season’s game is set for 7:45 p.m., in the Caesar’s Superdome. The game will be aired on ESPN.

Click here for the Official Sugar Bowl site.

HOW OLE MISS GOT HERE:

Ole Miss posted its first 10-win regular season in school history, finishing 10-2. The Rebels started the season strong winning their first three games over Louisville, Austin Peay and Tulane before dropping their first SEC game of the season at Alabama. The Tide ended the season as SEC champs and the top seed in the College Football Playoffs.

Head coach Lane Kiffin led the Rebels to that impressive record in just his second season at the helm. He was rewarded for his success with a contract extension Saturday.

The Rebels then won three straight, including a thrilling 52-51 win over Arkansas before beating Tennessee and LSU.

A disappointing 31-20 loss at Auburn was the last Ole Miss would suffer during the regular season. The Rebels reeled off consecutive wins over Liberty, No. 11 Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and a Thanksgiving night victory over Mississippi State.

Despite losing key players around him and battling a nagging ankle injury for the second half of the season, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral made the most of his final season in Oxford. The Ventura, Calif., native completed 260-of-380 passes for 3,339 yards and 20 touchdowns. Corral had said in the preseason he wanted to cut down on his mistakes and he did as he only threw four interceptions all season.

He also displayed his running ability prior to the ankle injury. Corral was one of four Rebels who rushed for at least 500 yards. Corral’s 597 yards on the ground were third on the team behind Jerrion Ealy (703), Snoop Conner (605) and just ahead of Henry Parrish, Jr., (542). Conner led the team with 13 touchdowns, while Corral added 11 scores.

The depleted receiving corps was led by Dontario Drummond, who grabbed 67 passes for 924 yards and eight touchdowns. Braylon Sanders caught 23 passes in limited duty and in only five games, Jonathan Mingo had 20 receptions. The Rebels’ big-play capability was evident as four receivers caught a pass of at least 50 yards.

As impressive as the offense was, the difference between last year’s 5-5 team and a 10-win group was the defense.

Defensive lineman Sam Williams set a modern-day school record with 12.5 sacks. As a team, the Landsharks sacked the quarterback 39 times.

Maryland transfer Chance Campbell came in and immediately set the tone at middle linebacker. He led the team with 99 total tackles, 12.5 of them for loss and six sacks. Campbell also hurried the quarterback 11 times, forced three fumbles and recovered three fumbles.

A.J. Finley had three of the team’s 10 interceptions on the year, including a fourth-quarter pick against Texas A&M he returned 52 yards for a touchdown to seal the victory.

Caden Costa had a solid year kicking as a true freshman, but he was unavailable for the Egg Bowl and will not play in the Sugar Bowl. Cale Nation replaced him and was perfect against Mississippi State, making all his PAT’s and nailing his only field goal attempt from 25 yards.

Punter Mac Brown averaged nearly 44 yards per kick, with 12 traveling over 50 yards and killing 15 punts inside the opponents 20-yard line.

HOW BAYLOR GOT HERE:

Like Kiffin, Baylor coach Dave Aranda had to fight distractions as his name came up with many coaching vacancies around the country. But again, like Kiffin, Aranda was able to put those rumors on the backburner and led his team to a tremendous season.

Baylor equaled the Ole Miss regular season by finishing 10-2 and added another victory in the Big 12 championship game, 21-16, over Oklahoma State.

The Bears opened with four consecutive wins, including a 31-29 victory over then-No. 14 Iowa State. Oklahoma State dealt Baylor its first loss a week later. Baylor then beat West Virginia, BYU and Texas before being upset by TCU.

That would be the final loss of the regular season for Baylor. The Bears went undefeated down the stretch with wins over No. 4 Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas Tech before avenging an earlier loss to Oklahoma State to earn the conference crown.

Baylor lost starting quarterback Gerry Bohannon to a leg injury in the Kansas State game, but freshman Blake Shapen came on in relief and impressed everyone. In the conference title game, the freshman was 23-of-28 for 180 yards and three touchdowns. He was, however, sacked five times.

The Bears’ ground game features a pair of backs. Abram Smith led the team with 1,205 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns and Trestan Ebner ran for 642 yards.

Tyquan Thornton led the team in receiving with 46 catches for 763 yards and eight touchdowns. R.J. Sneed had 37 receptions for 529 yards and a pair of scores.

Linebacker Dillon Doyle leads the Bears’ defense, collecting 67 tackles, seven of them for loss. Terrel Bernard had 62 stops in the regular season with seven tackles for loss and five sacks.

JT Woods leads the secondary with three interceptions, one of which he took back 40 yards for a touchdown.

Kicker Isaiah Hankins was 10-of-13 in field goals with a long of 48. He was perfect in conversion attempts.

Issac Power averaged 44.7 yards per punt with a long kick of 68 yards. He had 13 punts of over 50 yards.

Stay tuned to The Rebel Walk for all your Sugar Bowl information! 

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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