NEW ORLEANS – How sweet it was. No. 12 Ole Miss dominated No. 16 Oklahoma State, 48-20, in the 82nd annual Allstate Sugar Bowl Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
In their first appearance in the Sugar Bowl in 46 years, the Rebels left it all on the field, claiming their first 10-win season since the 2003 campaign.
“It’s hard to express all the feelings and emotions that you have,” head coach Hugh Freeze said. “You put so much into a team, the kids you care about, and you go through the disappointments. It’s surreal. I’m happy for these guys, and to be able to send those seniors out on that stage is very rewarding.”
It was a record-breaking night for the Rebel offense, but the defense wouldn’t be outshined, holding the nation’s 18th-ranked offense to its lowest point total of the season.
Junior quarterback and Sugar Bowl MVP Chad Kelly connected on four touchdown passes, the most by a Rebel quarterback in bowl history, and also led the team in rushing with 73 yards on the ground. He fired three touchdown passes to junior star receiver Laquon Treadwell, who finished with six catches for 71 yards.
As a unit the Rebels put up 554 of total offense, the most of any Ole Miss team in any bowl game, and also broke the previous record for points in a bowl game.
Even 6-foot-5, 305-pound offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil got in on the fun, trotting in for a 2-yard rush after a toss back from Kelly. The Rebels finished with 207 rushing yards and 347 through the air.
Through one quarter Ole Miss led it, 10-3, after a 34-yard field goal by Gary Wunderlich, and a 31-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to Cody Core. The Rebel defense held the Cowboys to just 36 yards in the opening quarter, including minus-eight on the ground.
Four minutes into the second quarter, Treadwell began his dominating day, hauling in a 34-yard pass from Kelly to cap a six play, 51-yard drive to make it 17-3. In that same drive, Treadwell broke one of his many records on the night, the single-season record for receptions (78 at the time).
Just five minutes later, the dynamic duo hooked up again, this time a 10-yard connection. But not before Treadwell himself found Jordan Wilkins deep for a 45-yard pass and catch. Just two plays later, the 10-yard play ensued, capping an 85-yard drive to extend the Rebels’ advantage to 24-3.
Wunderlich again punched through a field goal with 3:39 left in the half, a 38-yarder to push the lead to 27-3. The Cowboys followed with a field goal of their own to make it a 27-6 game.
Then, as time expired heading into the break, Tunsil received a toss from Kelly to score the 2-yard run, making it a 34-6 game at the break. The Rebels’ 34 first-half points tied for the most in the Sugar Bowl’s 82-year history.
Midway through the third, the Landshark D came up big again as Terry Caldwell forced a fumble and Breeland Speaks recovered, setting up another score just a minute later. That touchdown came from Wilkins, a 36-yard rumble, capping the quick 44-second scoring drive to extend the lead to 41-6.
From there, the Cowboys added one score, and Kelly found Treadwell again for his third of the night, a 14-yard play at the 13:04 mark to cap yet another dominating 8-play, 71-yard drive.