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Bowl Games of Ole Miss’ Past – Ray Brown Dominates the 1958 Sugar Bowl

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While Ole Miss may not be going bowling this season, the Rebels have a decorated history in some of College Football’s most famous bowl games. From going to their first bowl game in 1936 to the Sugar Bowl victory in 2015, the Rebels rank 10th in the NCAA in bowl victories with 23. The Rebels have won games and set records that will stand the test of time. From Conerly to Manning and Vaught to Freeze, Ole Miss legends have made names for themselves in bowl games over the years. So, instead of an actual bowl this year, let us take you back to some of the most memorable bowl victories in Ole Miss history.


 

Ray Brown - Photo courtesy of AllstateSugarBowl.org
Ray Brown – Photo courtesy of AllstateSugarBowl.org

During the 1957 season, the Rebels were in the midst of 15 straight bowl appearances under head coach Johnny Vaught. A matchup against the Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl awaited the Rebels after finishing with a 9-1-1 record in the regular season. After a 7-7 tie in the Egg Bowl, the Rebels clearly were ready to take out their frustrations on the Longhorns. The Rebels took the field on January 1, 1958, for the Sugar Bowl and what followed was one of the most legendary performances by someone in a Rebel uniform. 

Losses to Georgia Tech in 1953 and Navy in 1955 kept the Rebels waiting on their first Sugar Bowl win in three tries, but that day All-SEC QB Ray Brown wouldn’t let Coach Vaught leave the field without the program’s first Sugar Bowl trophy. Brown was truly a jack of all trades that cold January afternoon at Tulane Stadium; playing offense, defense and special teams Brown’s impact was felt in every aspect of the game. A 1-yard touchdown run by Brown opened up the scoring, but a missed PAT by Robert Khayat left the score at 6-0. 

The missed extra point would prove to be a non-issue as the Rebels defense stood tall against the Longhorn offense all game long facing 8 turnovers. 3 of those 8 turnovers were INT’s by who else but Ray Brown. The Rebels took a 19-0 lead into the half, and the second half was more of the same. The Rebel defense continued to dominate, and the offense continued to build their lead. The Longhorns were finally able to reach the end zone in the fourth quarter trimming the Rebel lead to 27-7, but the Rebels would respond in an unconventional way. 

Ray Brown was back to punt, and a bad snap led to busted play, and Brown was forced to improvise. 92 yards of improvisation later, Brown was all alone in the end zone, and the Rebel lead was 34-7. The 92 yard run by Brown is a Sugar Bowl record still to this day for the longest run and longest TD run from scrimmage. In Marty Mule’s “Sugar Bowl Classic: A History,” he gave a glimpse into what the members of the media were thinking as they watched Brown’s historic performance. 

“Raoul Carlisle, an Arkansas newspaperman who had covered every Sugar Bowl, commented to Pie Dufour as Brown dropped into his end zone to punt.  “He’s the greatest performer in Sugar Bowl history.”  Pie noncommittally answered, “He certainly is one of the best.” 

After the 92-yard TD run, Pie was noncommittal no longer. 

“That proves Brown’s the best,” Carlisle was screaming in Dufour’s ear to make himself heard over the din of the crowd.

Another touchdown before the final whistle brought the final score to 39-7, and the Rebels brought home their first Sugar Bowl championship. 116 media members voted on the MVP of the game, and there was no doubt as to who was taking home the hardware. Ray Brown’s incredible performance made him the first unanimous MVP in Sugar Bowl history. Brown etched himself into the Sugar Bowl record book that day and had his sights set on yet another honor.

“Say, if nobody has ever won [MVP] that way before,” he said with emotion, “that means I have a chance to make the all-time Sugar Bowl team.  Oh, man, I’d like that.” 

A momentous step forward for the Rebels, they wouldn’t wait long until their next Sugar Bowl win, which would come in the 1958-59 National Championship season. 

For video of the 1958 Sugar Bowl courtesy of Ole Miss Football, see below. 


Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com.

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