It was a rough couple of days for the state of Oklahoma in the New Years Six. 2015 ended with a dud from the Oklahoma Sooners in the first College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson and 2016 started with another dud from No. 16 Oklahoma State (10-3). The Cowboys were ambushed by No. 12 Ole Miss (10-3) in the Sugar Bowl on the first of the new year, 48-20, and it hardly felt even that close. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly tossed four touchdowns to earn Sugar Bowl MVP honors and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell caught three of them as Ole Miss helped cap a big couple of days for the SEC in bowl action.
Kelly ended his night having thrown for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh split playing time in the defeat and totaled 302 passing yards between them with zero touchdowns, although Walsh did rush for two scores. Oklahoma State’s running game was taken out of the game early and ended the night with just 63 rushing yards. Keep in mind, Walsh rushed for 74 yards in the game.
Ole Miss actually started off a tad slowly in the game, but they managed to shake off any early rust the way they were unable to the last time they played a Big 12 team in the New Years Six (last year vs. TCU in the Peach Bowl; the Horned Frogs demolished Ole Miss). Hugh Freeze and his Rebels fell behind 3-0 off an early Oklahoma State field goal, but scored 34 points before halftime. They even had a little fun doing so by tossing a screen pass to offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil on the final play of the first half for a short touchdown nobody on Oklahoma State’s defense was prepared for in the closing seconds. Simply put, Freeze had more talent on his Ole Miss squad and he out-foxed Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy.
Freeze improved to 3-1 in bowl games since his arrival in Oxford. This was also the first Sugar Bowl victory, and first of the four traditional major bowl games, for the Ole Miss program since the 1969 season. This is also the first time Ole Miss has won 10 game sin a single season since going 10-3 in 2003 with Eli Manning at quarterback.
With the win, the SEC improved to 6-2 this bowl season, and the wins have come in dominant fashion. Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Auburn have all put up over 30 points in their bowl victories, and each won their games by at least 20 points. The SEC’s only losses have come from Texas A&M and Florida (who lost in a blowout against Michigan). The SEC still has favorable matchups to come as well with Arkansas getting Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl. Georgia is a favorite against Penn State as well in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Alabama will get a chance to end the season with another postseason win too when they face Clemson in the national championship game one week from Monday night. Last year Ole Miss played a role in a disappointing bowl showing from the sEC, but this year the tale has been reversed.
The Big 12 is now a lowly 1-3 so far, with three more games to be played. Odds are not with the Big 12 though with Kansas State getting Arkansas, as mentioned above, and TCU without Trevone Boykin drawing a red hot and explosive Oregon in the Alamo Bowl. West Virginia also plays Arizona State in the Cactus Bowl, in Phoenix. The Big 12 is now also 1-3 in New Years Six bowl game sin two years under the new College Football Playoff structure, which is not a particularly great look.