Ole Miss Stuns Texas Tech In Cotton Bowl
by Mike Mitchell
January 2, 2009
Ole Miss completed a turnaround from 3-9 to 9-4 under first-year head coach Houston Nutt with a 47-34 Cotton Bowl win over favored Texas Tech. The 81 combined points set a Cotton Bowl record in the 73rd annual game and the last to be played at Cotton Bowl stadium. The game will move to the new home of the Dallas Cowboys next season.
It was the first bowl appearance for Ole Miss since 2003 when some guy named Eli Manning was under center and the Rebels went 9-4 and captured the Cotton Bowl with a 31-28 win over Oklahoma State.
This year, it was Jevan Snead leading the way with 292 yards and 3 TD's as he completed 18 of his 29 passes. In the second half, the Rebels went to the running game with Brandon Bolden getting 9 of his 11 carries after intermission and scoring on a 17-yard run. Dexter McCluster scored the final Rebel points on a 5-yard run with 4:40 left in the game to make it 47-28.
Bolden finished with 101 yards while McCluster had 97 on 14 carries.
The Rebels quickly increased a 24-21 halftime lead to 31-21 when Marshay Green intercepted Graham Harrell on the sixth play of the third quarter and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. Bolden added his score to make it 38-21 after Harrell was stopped on a 4th-and-4 from his own 37-yard line with over 8 minutes still left in the 3rd quarter.
Texas Tech never seriously challenged for the lead again.
The Rebels finished the year with six straight victories after a 3-4 start, including a 31-30 win in "The Swamp" for Florida's only loss of the season.
The Red Raiders lost two of its last three to go 11-2 after climbing into national championship consideration with a win over Texas that will long be remembered for Michael Crabtree's last-second touchdown catch from Harrell.
On this day, Harrell set the NCAA career record for most career TD passes with 134, surpassing the 131 thrown by Hawaii's Colt Brennan from 2005-2007.
Crabtree was limited by an ankle injury, and was held to 30 yards on 4 catches. The sophomore wide receiver is expected to declare early for the NFL draft and be a top pick in April.
Texas Tech is now 0-4 in Cotton Bowls. The Red Raiders dropped to 10-21-1 overall in bowl games but had won five of their last six under Mike Leach.
Ole Miss is 3-1 in Cotton Bowls and 20-12 overall. The Rebels have been victorious on seven of their last eight bowl trips.