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Vassallo: Sugar Bowl Preview – The Cowboys Close Up

Photo by Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics
Photo by Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics

David Frizzell and Shelly West sang about some years ago: “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma.” The duo may not have been singing about Stillwater’s Cowboys, but as for the Rebels’ focus, we had better be assuming they were.

Here’s one perspective on the upcoming Sugar Bowl with a prediction following.

How good are these Cowboys? This 10-2 Oklahoma State team defeated TCU by 20 points (49-29) and Texas Tech (70-53). Both TCU and Tech are headed to major bowls in Texas. The Cowboys also knocked off Texas, West Virginia and Kansas (by 48 points)! Down the stretch they dropped a pair of games (Baylor and Oklahoma) while their quarterback was dealing with an injury. This bunch of Cowboys can definitely score. Their primary concern, however, is how many points will the defense give up in the process.

Who should we be on the lookout for? Head Coach Mike Gundy has a fairly young team overall, especially at several key positions. Starting with sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph (No.2), the 6-4, 220 linebacker star is currently on the mend from minor foot surgery. The backup is senior J.W. Walsh. No. 38 Emmanuel Ogbah is a junior defensive end who was the ESPN.com’s Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He had 13 sacks and single-handedly dominated West Virginia. Wide receiver (No. 28) James Washington (another sophomore) as well as sophomore offensive tackle Zachary Crabtree (No. 60) are players to watch. And then there’s freshman Jalan McClesky (No. 84) who returns punts.

How will the game’s outcome be determined? It is my opinion that the Ole Miss defense will be the key. Should the Landsharks be able to shut down this high powered attack similar to Oklahoma (the Sooners lassoed the Cowboys 58-23), it’s going to be a Sugar Bowl anything but sweet for the visiting Big 12 team. Nkemdiche and Ogbah could become engaged in a competition to prove to pro scouts who the A player is. And Ogbah (like Robert) has Nigerian roots.

Who’s going to prevail? Ole Miss is going to win this 2016 Sugar Bowl 42-24 in our view. Oklahoma State (currently ranked 16th and 13th) is the only obstacle keeping Ole Miss from a 10-win season, a probable top ten finish, and redemption from last year’s embarrassing loss to the Big 12’s TCU Horn Frogs. Chad Kelly should be able to score at will via a host of receiving targets such as Laquon Treadwell who cemented his name in Ole Miss history for great receivers!

The Rebs want to extend their Sugar Bowl record to 6-3 lifetime before hitting Bourbon Street.

And hopefully just after the late night bowl concludes, we’ll all be singing …”You’re the Reason God Made the French Quarter” in honor of these 2015 Ole Miss Rebels!

Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

Follow HottyToddy.com on Instagram and Twitter @hottytoddynews. Like its Facebook page: If You Love Oxford and Ole Miss…

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