Rebs look to add to bowl history with a win in Sugar Bowl

Published 11:09 am Saturday, January 1, 2022

By Jake Davis

The Oxford Eagle

Already one of the most storied programs in the country, Ole Miss (10-2, 6-2 SEC) looks to add to its illustrious bowl record this season with a win over Baylor (11-2, 8-2 Big 12) in the Sugar Bowl.

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This is the Rebels’ tenth appearance in the Sugar Bowl and their 39th bowl berth overall. Only Alabama, LSU and Georgia have made more trips to New Orleans for bowl season. They are one of only 26 programs with at least 35 bowl appearances and one of 16 schools with at least three New Year’s Six bowl berths since the inception of the College Football Playoff in 2015. Their 24 bowl victories in program history rank 14th in the FBS.


This year’s Sugar Bowl is the first for Ole Miss since 2016, when they defeated Oklahoma State 48-20. Their only other Sugar Bowl against a current Big 12 opponent came in 1958 when they defeated Texas 39-7. They are 10-4 in bowl games against Big 12 opponents.


Including the vacated 2013 BBVA Compass Bowl victory, the Rebs are 12-2 in their previous 14 bowl games dating back to the 1992 Liberty Bowl and boast the best all-time postseason record in the country among schools with at least 30 bowl berths at 25-13. Their only postseason losses in the past 30 years were a 49-38 loss to West Virginia in the 2000 Music City Bowl and a 42-3 defeat to TCU in the 2014 Peach Bowl that snapped a streak of six straight bowl victories.


The first postseason appearance for Ole Miss came in 1936 when they fell to Catholic University 20-19 in the second-ever Orange Bowl. This remains the only appearance in the Orange Bowl in program history.


The program’s most successful era lasted from 1953-1970 when they won five Sugar Bowls and a Cotton Bowl under legendary head coach Johnny Vaught. Vaught led the Rebels to 14 straight bowl appearances including eight Sugar Bowls. Ole Miss secured the only national championship in program history under Vaught with a win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl following a 9-0 season in 1962.


The Rebels’ bowl appearances were intermittent following Vaught’s retirement in 1970. The school enjoyed moderate success at the turn of the century under head coach David Cutcliffe, winning three Independence Bowls and a Cotton Bowl between 1997 and 2003.  After short stints under Ed Orgeron and Houston Nutt, the Rebs began building momentum again with Hugh Freeze at the helm before his tenure was derailed by recruiting violations.


This is the second straight bowl berth for Ole Miss under Lane Kiffin following a 26-20 victory over Indiana in last year’s Outback Bowl. Kiffin joins Cutcliffe, Nutt and Freeze as the only Rebel head coaches with bowl appearances in each of their first two seasons.


The Rebels’ postseason history stretches back nearly 90 years and features appearances in 14 different bowl games. Kiffin is off to an auspicious start in Oxford and is eager to make his mark on an already historic program.