For the first time since 1970, Ole Miss will play in the Sugar Bowl.
The No. 12 Rebels (9-3, 6-2 SEC) will face No. 16 Oklahoma State on Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN in a game that Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is very excited about.
“Growing up in these parts, hearing the stories of how the Ole Miss people feel about this bowl is just ‑‑ we’re really pumped about bringing our fans and our team to participate in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. It’s kind of a bucket list thing, if you’re a coach at Ole Miss, to bring a team to this bowl. Just really honored and excited about this opportunity.”
Ole Miss felt good about the chances of landing in the Sugar Bowl, but they needed an Alabama win against Florida in the 2015 SEC Championship Game to seal the deal.
Freeze admitted he was getting anxious in the week leading up to the official release, and Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork even said Freeze had a secret goal to lead the Rebels to this bowl game for a while now.
“Right before the Mississippi State game, coach and I were talking about the Sugar Bowl possibilities, and he said, ‘I’ve never mentioned this to you, but I had it as a written goal to return this program to the Sugar Bowl,'” Bjork said. “He knew that was a signature part of the program was going to the Sugar Bowl (sic).”
Freeze said he’ll take film of Oklahoma State with him on the road over the next week, as he’s out recruiting, and he and his staff will really hone in on developing a game plan next weekend.
The biggest challenge the Cowboys present are in their offensive attack. Last year against TCU in the Peach Bowl, Ole Miss was torched defensively, and Freeze will undoubtedly have that on his mind as he prepares his team for the Sugar Bowl matchup.
“Well, seeing how we didn’t fare real well our last time against a Big 12 opponent, I have a lot of respect for (Oklahoma State) and the brand of football they play. I think we’re probably a bit more similar to them than we are different. … I’ve looked at everything we did last year in hopes to improve our preparation for a talented team like them.”