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Bowling in Texas: An Ole Miss history

To prepare for Ole Miss’ ninth Lone Star State appearance, we need to document the previous eight.

AT&T Cotton Bowl - Texas Tech v Mississippi Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After a successful trip to College Station, Tex. at the end of October, Ole Miss appeared to be on a course bound for a bowl game of significance.

One month later, Ole Miss found themselves skidding off course, plummeting down a mountain, and smashing into a drainage ditch.

It was, you may recall, not a real good time. The 0-3 finish gave the college football scriptwriters reason enough to send Ole Miss to Houston and NRG Stadium for a bowl game sponsored by the producer of 2018’s “best tax software for independent contractors.”

While it’s unclear if tax preparation will be a fan zone activity, the TaxAct* Texas Bowl does at least promise Ole Miss a game with Texas Tech, a team the Rebels last played and defeated in NRG Stadium to begin the 2018 regular season.

*Previous Texas Bowl sponsor Power Rankings:

  1. Meineke Car Care
  2. AdvoCare (pyramid schemes and bowl season go hand in hand!)
  3. Academy Sports + Outdoors
  4. Mercari (I don’t know either)

This marks Ole Miss’ ninth bowl trip to Texas, with the previous eight resulting in an overall 4-4 record. To kill time until 8 daggum o’clock on Wednesday night, December 28th, let’s go through Ole Miss’ previous bowl experiences in the state home to Whataburger, the sixth- or seventh-best fast food option available.

Note: If it sounds like we’ve done a similar exercise, you would be correct, as these two masterpieces (here and here) helped us waste time prior to the 2019 season that we assumed would not be enjoyable. And it was not!

1956 Cotton Bowl

Ole Miss 14, TCU 13

Ole Miss’ first bowl-related crossing* of the Red River occurred during the Eisenhower Administration, which was an eight-year stretch that saw the program go 71-12-3, with three SEC titles and two national championships. The point I’m making is that if Dwight Eisenhower ran for president again, most Ole Miss fans would vote for him.

*The first crossing was in 1911 when they traveled to College Station to play Texas A&M, losing 17-0. However, it’s important to note that the descendants of people who either attended or played in that game still owe Jimbo Fisher $80 million.

As the score above indicates, not a lot of exciting things happened. Ole Miss trailed 13-0, and according to the 1956 message board archives, it was because they were wearing white jerseys with the “embarrassing” blue numbers.

TCU building a 13-0 lead probably had a lot to do with them holding on every play. Check out #78’s jersey here. HOLDING HIM SO MUCH THEY RIPPED A HOLE IN IT.

After taking the lead in the fourth quarter, Ole Miss sealed the win with an interception* by Eddie Crawford. Yes, that would be the same Eddie Crawford who later coached the basketball team from 1963 to 1968, amassing a 46-97 record, and was employed by the school in multiple capacities until 2005.

The point here is the Ole Miss athletic department has a rich history of what’s the most convenient hire they can make.

*TCU threw 4 passes and Ole Miss intercepted 2 of them. The 2023 Ole Miss team should try to match that interception percentage, IMO.

1962 Cotton Bowl

Texas 12, Ole Miss 7

Look what happens when John F. Kennedy and the GOT DANG LIBERAL AGENDA get into office. Losing games they should win!

Ole Miss held Texas to 183 total yards but had 6 turnovers, 5 of which came via interceptions. Based on my proprietary projections model, throwing 5 interceptions in a game in 1962 is the equivalent of throwing 21 interceptions in a game in 2022.

1964 Bluebonnet Bowl

Tulsa 14, Ole Miss 7

The Bluebonnet Bowl is actually the grandfather of the TaxAct Texas Bowl, as it was played in Houston from 1959 to 1987. After 13 years of not having a middle-of-the-road bowl game in their fair city, the thirst for such a game became too much for the Houston community.

In 2000, they came together and gave the world the creatively named Houston Bowl*, which survived until 2005 and was replaced the following year with the equally creative Texas Bowl, which is the current version.

*As someone who believes all meetings either shouldn’t exist or be as short as possible, I applaud the effort to hold no “let’s think of a name for our bowl game” meetings. Everyone involved has lived a richer, fuller life.

As for this game, let’s look at Ole Miss’ previous bowl games prior to this season:

  • 1960 Sugar Bowl
  • 1961 Sugar Bowl
  • 1962 Cotton Bowl
  • 1963 Sugar Bowl

Who could’ve seen a lack of interest in a three-syllable bowl game! And Ole Miss’ 217 yards of offense checks out.

1966 Bluebonnet Bowl

Texas 19, Ole Miss 0

In 8 quarters of Bluebonnet Bowl play, Ole Miss had:

  • 7 points
  • 17 first downs
  • 425 yards of offense
  • 15 punts
  • 4 interceptions

The lesson here was STOP PLAYING IN THE BLUEBONNET BOWL. To their credit, Ole Miss got wise and never went to Houston again for a bowl game.

1967 Sun Bowl

UTEP 14, Ole Miss 7

It’s like the Bluebonnet Bowl, but it’s played on the moon if the moon shared a border with Juárez. Ole Miss having 109 yards of offense and 7 points is a strong indicator this was a 6-3-1 team significantly more interested Juárez than playing UTEP.

Not the first or last team to meet this fate!

2004 Cotton Bowl

Ole Miss 31, Oklahoma State 28

We love a good 42-year absence from a prestigious bowl game don’t we, folks? We simply can’t get enough of it.

I made note of this in the aforementioned bowl history round-up from 2019, but another shout-out to David Cutcliffe, Independence Bowl Hall of Fame inductee, for stealing from himself in bowl season.

This is Ole Miss’ first touchdown in the 1999 Independence Bowl:

A few years later and many, many, many, many exits further down I-20 from Shreveport, this is Ole Miss’ first touchdown against Oklahoma State:

You sly fox, David Cutcliffe! I appreciate him making sure everyone in the state of Oklahoma experienced the roast from the same play. Tough but fair.

On a personal note, I was at this game and if you say the name Rashaun Woods, my brain starts playing the music that played when all the really awful stuff was happening in Platoon (pretty much the whole movie!).

Everyone in the stadium, including Ole Miss coaches and players, knew he was getting the ball, and it didn’t matter. For neutral observers and Oklahoma State fans, I’m sure it was a magnificent performance to watch, but for Ole Miss fans, it was UNRELENTING AGONY.

2009 Cotton Bowl

Ole Miss 47, Texas Tech 34

In the seasons leading up to this game, Ole Miss fans experienced this:

  • 4-7 (Cutcliffe fired!)
  • Ed Orgeron hired
  • 3-8
  • 4-8
  • 3-9 (Orgeron fired!)

And that includes a 6-26 SEC record over that stretch. Is that bad?

As noted in a previous recap of the New Year’s festivities, Ole Miss fans attacked those few days in Dallas as though it was their patriotic duty to consume every alcoholic beverage in sight. Alcohol sales records fell, and the Ole Miss half of the Cotton Bowl was out of beer by the end of the first quarter.

If like me, you were there, backslaps and handshakes to us all for our performances. I’m sure the tales of those days and nights have reached legendary proportions among those in the Dallas service industry.

A few things of note that happened in the game:

  • Texas Tech attempted an onside kick from their own 7-yard line following multiple personal foul penalties
  • Tight end Gerald Harris came into the game with 3 receptions for 47 yards and 1 touchdown; he finished the year with 5 receptions for 76 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • If you were wondering whether Houston Nutt managed to get Enrique Davis carries, he did! 5 for 23 yards.
  • The high-water mark of the Houston Nutt era:

Giggity.

2010 Cotton Bowl

Ole Miss 21, Oklahoma State 7

After an awful loss to Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl (sounds familiar!), Nutt’s second team at Ole Miss finished with an 8-4 record and earned a return trip to Dallas. Said invitation would later be the source of the infamous FIFTY. FIFTY. FIFTY YEARS speech, which I am legally bound to play now:

A delicious blend of paranoia and ACTUALLY we’re doing great, you just can’t see it.

As for the game, drink in and savor these drive charts. First, Oklahoma State:

But wait, there’s more!

If you’re scoring at home, that’s 7 turnovers (4 interceptions and 3 fumbles; they fumbled a total of 5 times). Not ideal when your turnovers equal your total number of points.

Now enjoy the work of Houston Nutt calling those plays, brotha:

And it continues.

That’s 5 turnovers for a combined total of 12. Even backup quarterback Nathan Stanley got in on the action, completing 3 of 7 passes for 3 yards and an interception.

The highlight for me is Ole Miss’ rushing box score, which is an elite (ELITE) list of Houston Nutt Some Guys™:

Rodney Scott!

Jesse Grandy!

I may have to lie down.

Let us hope Wednesday night’s game is a little more easy on the eyes than the first Cotton Bowl in Jerry Jones’ Home to Cowboys’ Playoff Loses. I still believe the probability of Ole Miss winning by two touchdowns is the same as them losing by two touchdowns.