Sunday, February 5, 2023

Bowl Games of Ole Miss’ Past – Nutt Era Begins in 2009 Cotton Bowl

Bowl Games of Ole Miss Past

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.

2009 Cotton Bowl Program
2009 Cotton Bowl Program

After their 2004 Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State, the Rebels wouldn’t return to a bowl game for five straight years. After David Cutcliffe was fired in 2004 and Ed Orgeron was let go in 2008, the outlook for the Rebels was bleak. Houston Nutt was brought in and quickly changed the culture in Oxford. A win over the eventual national champion Florida Gators put the nation on notice that Ole Miss was no pushover. A 45-0 win in the Egg Bowl ended the 2008 regular season for the Rebels, and they earned a trip back to the Cotton Bowl to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders. What transpired was a shootout, in which the two teams combined for 81 points and almost 1,000 yards of offense. 

Two early turnovers by the Rebel Offense quickly turned into a 14-0 deficit. Jevan Snead calmed his team down and got them back in the game with 14 unanswered points of their own. Mike Wallace reeled in a 41-yard TD pass to tie the game early in the second quarter. Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree put the Red Raiders back on top when he caught a Graham Harrell TD pass on the following possession. Going 80 yards in 10 plays, Snead threw his third TD of the game, and the game was noted at 21-21. The defense showed their first sign of life on Tech’s next possession, intercepting a Harrell pass and giving the ball back to the offense. Unable to put the ball in the end zone, the Rebels settled for a FG and took a 24-21 lead at halftime. 

With Texas Tech threatening for the first points of the second half, the Ole Miss defense would make a game changing play. Marshay Green stepped in front of a pass and went 65 yards for a TD on the interception return. Already up 31-21, Rebel RB Brandon Bolden ran 17 yards for another score, and suddenly the Rebels were in complete control leading 38-21.  

The Red Raiders closed the gap to start the fourth quarter. A touchdown cut the Rebel lead to 38-28. On their next drive, the Red Raiders were backed into their own end zone, and the Rebel defense took advantage, sacking Harrell in the end zone for a safety. Dexter McCluster would seal the deal with a TD run with 4:34 remaining in the game, putting the Rebels up 47-28. Texas Tech scored once more, but it made no difference in the outcome. The Rebels won their first bowl game since the days of Eli Manning and David Cutcliffe by the final score of 47-34. 

Jevan Snead’s three first-half TDs tied a Cotton Bowl Record for TDs in a half, and helped lead the Rebels balanced attack. Snead finished with 292 yards passing, and the Rebel ground game contributed 223 yards led by Bolden and McCluster. Houston Nutt’s first year in Oxford ended in grand fashion with the Cotton Bowl win, and the Rebels would be back in the game next year against Oklahoma State.  

For video from the 2009 Cotton Bowl, see below. Video courtesy of Ole Miss Football.

Steven Gagliano is a writer for He can be reached at

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