OXFORD – Ole Miss players are eager to play in the Cotton Bowl, eager to see Cowboys Stadium and eager for all that goes on with bowl week.
They’re also eager to distance themselves from their final regular season game.
“There is some disappointment, and we’d like to have that last game back, but I think it makes us hungrier for a win,” quarterback Jevan Snead said.
In 2008 the Rebels had won five straight games, one of them a resounding 45-0 win over rival Mississippi State. The Bulldogs returned serve this season with a 41-27 win in Starkville the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Ole Miss ended a three-game win streak that included home victories against Tennessee and LSU.
It was the first time the Rebels had lost a November game under second-year coach Houston Nutt.
The Rebels defeated No. 7 Texas Tech 47-34 in the Cotton Bowl last year. One of the sub-plots for the Red Raiders was the disappointment of being an 11-win team that was not in a BCS bowl game.
Defensive end Kentrell Lockett doesn’t see the Mississippi State loss affecting Ole Miss preparation heading into the Jan. 2 matchup against Oklahoma State.
“We’ve got another game and a chance to get the bad taste out of our mouths. It would be totally different if the season had ended on that note,” Lockett said. “(MSU) wanted it more. It was a lack of focus, a lack of determination on our part. It was an unfortunate thing, and the thing that people really didn’t think was going to happen happened. This is a way we can get back right and gain our respect from everyone.”
Oklahoma State has its own disappointment to deal with. Like Texas Tech last year, the Cowboys were hopeful of a BCS opportunity but lost to to their in-state rival, Oklahoma, 27-0.
There are a number of Ole Miss-Oklahoma State connections. In addition to Nutt’s past there as a player and assistant coach, the OSU staff includes co-offensive coordinators Gunter Brewer and Joe Wickline. Brewer is the son of former Ole Miss coach Billy Brewer, and Wickline is a former Ole Miss offensive line coach.
Snead is confident the Rebels can move forward from the MSU loss.
“I don’t think it robbed us of any momentum. It definitely hurt us, leaving a bad taste. I think it will make us work that much harder not to have that taste in our mouths.”
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal