The 20th-ranked Rebels appeared headed to Orlando for the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl before the Bulldogs rushed for 317 yards in a 41-27 victory.
The holiday destination for Ole Miss becomes more complicated now with the Outback Bowl, Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Cotton Bowl and the Capital One Bowl all among the possibilities. The bowl picture should begin to resolve itself later this week.
“There’s no way to tell,” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said.
Dixon, State’s career rushing leader playing in his final college game before a supportive home crowd, ran for 133 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. But it was quarterback Relf’s work on the option that threw the Rebels a curve. Relf, a little-used backup, finished with 131 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and also threw two third-quarter touchdown passes.
The Bulldogs became the first team to hold Ole Miss tailback Dexter McCluster to fewer than 100 yards since McCluster moved to the position full-time at midseason.
He finished with 82 yards on 16 carries with a long run of 22 yards. McCluster had run for 100-plus yards against Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee and LSU.
Many MSU fans in the Scott Field crowd of 55,365 hung around to enjoy the scene. Their cow bells ringing, first-year coach Dan Mullen addressed them saying, “There’s one program in this state that’s on the rise,” a not-so-veiled reference to Nutt’s statements earlier in the week when Nutt charged Ole Miss opponents – without naming Mississippi State – of negative recruiting in relation to a Ku Klux Klan appearance on the Oxford campus on Nov. 21.
The Bulldogs conclude the season 5-7 overall, 3-5 in the SEC. It was State’s second win against Nutt in 12 games, with 10 of his wins coming while he coached at Arkansas.
MSU’s win brings the overall series record to 60-40-6 in favor of Ole Miss. The Rebels have won five of the last eight in the series.
The last time a visiting team won was 2003, when the Rebels defeated the Bulldogs 31-0.
Click here for a photo slideshow from the game.