The Sugar Bowl is finally here, and the New Year’s Day showdown pins one of the SEC’s best against a Big 12 power.
The Rebels are making their fourth consecutive appearance in a bowl game under coach Hugh Freeze. This tilt also marks the ninth time Ole Miss is involved in the Sugar Bowl, which is tied for third-most of any program in the nation. It is, however, the Rebels first time in the game since 1970.
Here’s what you need to know about the Sugar Bowl this year:
Ole Miss Rebels (9-3) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2)
Kickoff: Friday, Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Weather: 51 degrees (Weather.com)
Line: Oklahoma State -7 (VegasInsiders.com)
By the numbers
5: Ole Miss and Oklahoma State are squaring off for the first time in five years. When the Rebels and Cowboys last played in 2010, Ole Miss won the game, 21-7. Overall, Ole Miss leads the series 2-0.
9: Ole Miss is making its ninth appearance in the Sugar Bowl. That is good for third-most appearances in the annual New Year’s Day game, tied with SEC powers Florida and UGA.
10: Ole Miss is tied for 10th all-time among FBS teams with 23 bowl victories. Additionally, the Rebels are tied for 18th all-time with 37 bowl game appearances.
Storylines to watch
Can Ole Miss continues its bowl game success?
Ole Miss had won six consecutive bowl games before falling 42-3 to TCU in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl last year. That was also the team’s first bowl loss under Freeze, who is 2-1 since taking over at Ole Miss. Previously, Ole Miss topped Georgia Tech in 2013 and Pitt in 2012.
Can the Rebels continue to flex their muscles?
Ole Miss went 4-2 against ranked teams in 2015, including victories over Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU and Mississippi State. The Rebels went 6-2 in their SEC schedule, but did not face a team from the Big 12.
Will this be the highest-scoring game on New Year’s Day?
NFL teams should be paying attention as two of the highest-flying offenses are pinned up against one another. Both Ole Miss and Oklahoma State have 1,000-yard receivers in Laquon Treadwill and James Washington, respectively. Both the Rebels and Cowboys rank in the top 20 in FBS scoring and total offense.
Prediction: Ole Miss 38, Oklahoma State 37
While Oklahoma State is considered the favorite by Vegas, there were few teams hotter than Ole Miss over the final month of the season. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly set a school record for total offense and ranks fifth in SEC history for total offense in one season. He could pass Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel’s numbers, too, depending on what happens Friday night in New Orleans. Kelly’s superb play led him to a 96.4 Total QBR in November, and he’s about to take on an Oklahoma State defense that was torched for 103 points in the past two games (both losses).