The outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease) has forced the NCAA and professional sports to either cancel or postpone their events. Spring sports, as of now, are no more and other large events like The Masters and the Boston Marathon are postponed until further notice. But, all is not lost due to the power of YouTube!
With that said, while we wait for athletic competition to return, we have delved through the archives for notable football contests in Ole Miss history that can cheer you up.
2008 - Ole Miss 31, No. 4 Florida 30
The first game that came to mind was almost 12 years ago. I was an undergrad and witnessing greatness as Jevan Snead and Houston Nutt were cooking up an 11am upset for the ages on. On Raycom Sports, too!
Snead (RIP) was masterful despite only completing 9-of-20 passes. If his dart to OG nWo member Shay Hodge for an 86-yard touchdown and Kentrell Lockett’s blocked extra point were the proverbial daggers in Florida and Urban Meyer’s heart that day, then Marcus Temple’s fourth down stop of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow was the kill shot.
The Ole Miss defense, despite giving up 443 yards and 24 first downs to Tebow, Percy Harvin, Aaron Hernandez and Co., they turned over the eventual national champions three times and rose to the occasion at the biggest moment of the game.
1999 - Sanford Independence Bowl: Ole Miss 27, Oklahoma 25
Another game that holds a special place in my heart, I had the pleasure of taking this instant classic in at a friend’s house as we rang in the New Year. Since I was barely 11 years old, I vaguely remember bits and pieces, but there are a few things that stick out in my mind.
Sure, Deuce McAllister had a game-breaking 80-yard touchdown run and Romaro Miller completed 12-of-17 for 158 yards in the first half, our dear Rebels managed to blow a 21-3 halftime lead and made this one interesting. Oklahoma quarterback and now UCF head coach Josh Huepel engineered a fantastic comeback, throwing for 390 yards and setting the record for most passing yards in Independence Bowl history.
The co-MVP couldn’t get the Sooners to the finish line though despite out-gaining the Rebs by 188 yards on offense as Les Binkley etched his name in University of Mississippi sports folklore by drilling a 39-yard field goal as the clock hit zero, giving Ole Miss their fourth straight bowl win.
2001 - Ole Miss 27, Alabama 24
This is one of Eli Manning’s signature games in an Ole Miss uniforms as the New Orleans native and future NFL Hall of Famer willed the Rebels to 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Crimson Tide in front of a frenzied Jefferson Pilot Sports-loving crowd.
Manning finished the day 22-of-41 for 325 yards through the air with just one touchdown, the game-winning one to Joe Gunn. The second all-time leading rusher in school history chipped in 78 yards on the ground and receivers Chris Collins and Jason Armstead combined for 181 yards receiving.
Behind 22 first downs and 430 total yards, Ole Miss defeated Alabama and finished the year 7-4. This is a fun one if not just for old names like Doug Ziegler and Charles Stackhouse to be mentioned on the broadcast.
2004 - SBC Cotton Bowl: No. 18 Ole Miss 31, No. 22 Oklahoma State 28
Speaking of Eli Manning, his Rebel Finale was another instant classic, this time slaying Les Miles and the Cowboys in Dallas. Elisha tossed two touchdowns and the defense, led by Josh Cooper, held off a furious comeback to send No. 10 out on a high note and to give David Cutcliffe and Ole Miss 10 wins.
Despite being a bittersweet moment after missing the SEC Championship game, the Rebels overachieved and then some in 2003 thanks to 3,600 passing yards and 29 touchdowns from Ole Miss’ favorite son.
2002 - Ole Miss 20, No. 6 Florida 17
Let’s keep this Manning Train going, huh? This edition of the Rebels and Gators was a defensive struggle, seeing just seven total points scored in the first quarter and zero points scored in the fourth. Matt Grier picked off Rex Grossman twice, returning one for the go-ahead touchdown, Eli Manning threw for 154 yards, and Vashon Pearson plunged into the end zone for only other touchdown of the day for Ole Miss.
The Grier interception was capped by a remarkable plunge into the end zone, sending Vaught-Hemingway Stadium into a frenzy and turning up the heat that eventually got Ron Zook canned at Florida.
It was the Rebels’ first victory over a top-10 team in five years and was a bright spot in a relatively disappointing season.
2013 - Ole Miss 27, No. 6 LSU 24
Fast-forwarding 10 years, this one was just bonkers.
Dave Wommack’s defense was down five starters but LSU, led by Zach Mettenberger had Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry, couldn’t quite find traction against a no-name bunch led by Chief Brown and Derrick Jones. Known commodities Charles Sawyer and Cody Prewitt, along with Brown, picked off the Tigers three times, holding the Tigers offense to just 388 yards (Ole Miss had 525).
Then, Andrew Ritter did the rest, booting a 41-yarder for the win.
The real story though, yes there can be something bigger than that, was Dr. Bo Wallace surgically dismembering John Chavis’ defense. Wallace threw for 346 yards and opened things up for Jaylen Walton to scoot around the edge all night, running for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
And if that wasn’t enough, this game provided one of the most viral moments in Rebel football history:
2014 - No. 11 Ole Miss 23, No. 1 Alabama 17
Y’all knew this one was making the cut.
It was the perfect day. The weather was perfect. College Gameday was in town. And Katy Perry hurled insults and corn dogs literally and figuratively at LSU’s face. Bo Wallace was again masterful against Nick Saban’s defense, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns and Wommack’s Landshark defense earned their keep, holding Blake Sims and Derrick Henry in check for the day.
This was one of those wins that was a total team effort. The defense stole the show, holding the Tide to just three points in the second half, but Wallace did his thing through the air, Jaylen Walton was effective on the ground, and Evan Engram, Vince Sanders, and Laquon Treadwell tormented Landon Collins, Cyrus Jones, and Eddie Jackson.
The Rebels were able to overcome an early missed facemask call and Senquez Golson was able to exorcise his own demons against the Crimson Tide with the game-sealing interception in the end zone as Alabama tried to spoil the party.
This is one that is just fun to go back and re-watch whenever, but even more so now. This game was Ole Miss announcing themselves to a national audience, soundly defeating the eventual SEC champs and arguably the greatest college football coach of our generation.
One might say it was the perfect day.
2015 - No. 15 Ole Miss 43, No. 2 Alabama 37
We might as well discuss this one now, right?
Defense hardly existed in this contest as another favorite son of Oxford, Chad Kelly, etched his name in Ole Miss history, defeating Alabama on the road for the first time in a quarter century!
Kelly finished with 341 yards and three touchdowns, none bigger than the 66-yard one to Quincy Adeboyejo via Laquon Treadwell’s helmet that catapulted Ole Miss into the meme and GIF stratosphere.
Another favorite son of Ole Miss, Cody Core, stole the show late in the game with a 73-yard catch and scamper on an RPO play for the ages before another nWo member iced it with a touchdown and a dab.
And you know no big Ole Miss win isn’t complete without stress and anxiety. Jake Coker, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, and ArDarius Stewart furiously tried to ruin the party by fighting back from 30-10 deficit, only to be picked off by Tony Bridges and stopped once again on fourth down to end it.
It was the first time the Rebs had won in Tuscaloosa since 1988 and showed that things are in fact possible as Ole Miss bucked the trend of Bama winning 25 of the previous 26 in the Yellowhammer State.
What a time.
2013 - Ole Miss 39, Vanderbilt 35
Another game that was bonkers and showcased just how insane Ole Miss football can be. Hugh Freeze’s top-10 class was showcased in this one as Treadwell and Engram paced the offense with 14 combined receptions for 143 yards and Tony Conner and Robert Nkemdiche harassed Austyn Carta-Samuels all night long, turning him over twice.
But, it was Jeff Scott who stole the show in the late, muggy Nashville night, housing a zone stretch run play 75-yards with a 1:05 left on the clock to steal one on the road in the season and conference opener.
Conner intercepted Vanderbilt on their first drive, Nkemdiche ran for a first down on a fake punt, and time after time, Laquon and Evan made big catch after big catch.
I was in Columbia, S.C., polishing off some late-night Cookout and cold snacks while I watched No. 3 duck and dodge Commodore defenders as he tip-toed on the sidelines and scooted into the end zone, staving off one last defender who damn near tripped him up.
This was also one of the few times we witnessed the navy on white on navy fit that I still hold dear.
2016 - Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 12 Ole Miss 48, No. 16 Oklahoma State 20
Yet another bowl game against the Cowboys, this one put a rubber stamp on the arrival of Ole Miss as a household name nationally as Kelly threw for four touchdowns, Treadwell hauled in three touchdowns, and the defense dominated Mason Rudolph. Sure this game is mostly known as one of the last great memories for Rebel fans once the NCAA bomb was dropped, but that doesn’t take away from the fun that was had in the Crescent City that night.
I was actually in Oxford for this one, taking it all in at Rafters. I was sipping bourbon neat with friends and enjoying every single bit as this one was never close. Outside of a couple field goals by Oklahoma State, it was all Rebels in the first half.
The biggest moment? No it wasn’t Swag throwing to Engram or Treadwell. It was the greatest quarterback to ever wear the Ole Miss script hitting Laremy Tunsil for a two-yard touchdown that sent the Superdome into mass hysteria.
Also, can confirm Rafters and it’s patrons were sent into a frenzy as well. Strangers running around high-fiving and hugging each other as the Rebels went up 34-6 before the break.
Jordan Wilkins added a long touchdown run and Treadwell capped off a remarkable career with his final touchdown in the red and powder blue as Ole Miss finished off Mike Gundy and the Cowboys.
Much like 2003, this one was bittersweet as the Rebs had a real shot to make Atlanta and to compete for the College Football Playoff, but whether you were in New Orleans that night or not, the 82nd Sugar Bowl on January 1st, 2016 was fucking incredible.
Ole Miss’ first trip to the New Year’s Six bowl in 46 years was worth the wait.
There are several other moments, memories, games, and plays that came to mind, but I did my best to mix in some old and some new as we try to pass the time as sports have been stopped as our country tries to find a way to solve this pandemic.
Tell us in the comments below what your favorite memories are, young or old, as we try to stay positive in this trying time.