Sunday, February 5, 2023

Bowl Games of Ole Miss’ Past – Rebels Tame Tigers in 1965 Liberty Bowl


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.

1965 Liberty Bowl Program
1965 Liberty Bowl Program

While the Liberty Bowl had begun in 1959, the 1965 matchup between the Ole Miss Rebels and the Auburn Tigers was the first to be played at Memphis Memorial Stadium. A game that went down to the wire would end the Rebels season in dramatic fashion. 

The Rebel offense was stuck in the mud, but the defense did their part to keep the first quarter scoreless. A Jimmy Keyes field goal gave the Rebels a 3-0 lead in the second quarter, but the Tigers would answer with a score of their own. Auburn FB Tom Bryan weaved his way through the Rebel defense for a 44-yard TD that gave the Tigers a 7-3 lead. Unable to score before the half, the Rebels trailed 7-3. 

The second half wasn’t an offensive explosion, either. A methodical drive in the third quarter swung the momentum back to the Rebels side. QB Jody Graves hit Doug Cunningham for a 6-yard TD, and the Rebels lead sat at 10-7. The defense continued to stifle the Tiger offense, and Keyes added another FG. Trailing 13-7, the Tigers had a chance to win the game late as they had taken the ball down to the Rebel 9-yard line. Ole Miss’ Jim Urbanek got to Auburn QB Alex Bowden on a 4th and 1 and forced a fumble that sealed the deal for the Rebels. 

In dramatic fashion, the Rebels won the Liberty Bowl with just 24 yards in the air. The Rebels finished the game with 0 passing first downs, an unfortunate record that the program holds to this day. The Rebels ended their season 7-4, but a win over the rival Tigers was a solid end to the season. The Rebels would win their next liberty bowl over Virginia Tech in 1968 with Archie Manning under center. The Rebels would return to the grand stage of the Sugar Bowl in 1970 to take on Arkansas.

For video from the 1965 Liberty Bowl, see below. Video courtesy of Ole Miss Football

Steven Gagliano is a writer for He can be reached at

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