Ole Miss Vs. Texas Tech in Cotton Bowl

Derek StephensSenior Analyst IDecember 7, 2008

As the bowl selection show was shown across the country with almost every avid college football fan tuned in, Ole Miss fans found out they would not be headed to Orlando to face Michigan State.

Instead, the  No. 20 Rebels will be headed to Dallas, TX to face the No. 8 Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Cotton Bowl played on January 2nd at 1:00 p.m.

Many people argue Ole Miss and their fans should be more excited to play Texas Tech rather than a Big 10 team such as Michigan State.

After Ole Miss defeated Mississippi State, Houston Nutt seemed very excited about the opportunity to play in Dallas.

"I've been to the Cotton Bowl three times. The work that Chairman Rick Baker and their staff do is unbelievable. They are so thorough, detailed, and committed to the players, their families, from the luncheon to the banquet and to all the activities, it's just a very good place."

Ole Miss comes in as, many would say, one of the most under-looked teams in the country.

Nutt preached to the public he would have to change the mindset at Ole Miss to get them back to respectability and competitiveness on a constant basis at the beginning of the season.

A win over Florida helped the players to believe, but the next week Ole Miss took a step back after losing to South Carolina at home to put them at 3-3 for the year.

After narrowly losing to Alabama 24-20 on October 18th to put them at 3-4, many Ole Miss fans wondered how long the building steps would take for Ole Miss to start getting 'real wins' instead of 'moral victories.'

Since that date, Ole Miss started their winning streak by defeating Arkansas, and then started their 'November to Remember,' defeating Auburn, Louisiana-Monroe, LSU, and Mississippi State, including two shutouts.

Sophomore QB Jevan Snead's performance seems to be a key indicator of the Rebels's performance during their five game winning streak.

After the Alabama game (Ole Miss's last loss), Jevan Snead had 10 TDs and 10 INTs for the season. During the five game winning streak, Jevan Snead has thrown 13 TDs to only 2 INTs.

The defense and the turnover battle have also been key stats to the Rebel's success over the past month. Before the winning streak, Ole Miss had allowed a little over 227 passing yards/game and 111 rushing yards/game. The Rebels had also lost the turnover battle at minus seven during that seven game span.

During the last five games, Ole Miss is allowing an impressive 185 passing yards/game and 47 rushing yards/game. Additionally, the Rebels have won the turnover battle at plus six during the last five games.

Texas Tech fans likely feel disappointed to be in the Cotton Bowl with Ole Miss, as they were eyeing a national championship berth until November 22nd after being hammered by Oklahoma 65-21.

The next week, the Red Raiders narrowly defeated Baylor, 35-28, a game in which Graham Harrell had nine breaks in two fingers on his non-throwing hand, and Michael Crabtree was also injured with a minor ankle sprain.

Both are expected to be ready to go for the Cotton Bowl.

So, what does this match-up really look like?

The game will more than likely come down to the Ole Miss pass rush to get pressure on Graham Harrell. This will really test the nation's perception on what really is better, the Big 12 offenses or the SEC defenses.

Ole Miss doesn't get the publicity as an upper-tier talented SEC team, but the Rebels have two probable first-round draft picks on the defensive line with Peria Jerry and Greg Hardy.

Ole Miss and Tyrone Nix need to draw up a gameplan to limit Harrell's time in the pocket, a gameplan similar to what Oklahoma used to produce three sacks and numerous pressures on Harrell.

This game has all the makings for a great bowl game classic and a great match-up for the SEC and Big 12 to showcase their teams against each other to somewhat prove the conference arguments this year.

Not only that, but this game will be a great game for the Cotton Bowl stadium to go out on as the Cotton Bowl will move to the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in 2010.




Derek Stephens is the Community Leader for Ole Miss. He can be reached by his bulletin board on his profile or you can leave a comment below in the comment box.