2008 Cotton Bowl – Explosive Ole Miss Pulls Upset, Topples No 8-Ranked Texas Tech, 47-34 – Games and Tech

In his 10th year of coaching at Arkansas last season, Houston Nutt went 8-4 and beat No. 1-ranked LSU 50-48 in overtime in his final game. It was not good enough, so he resigned amid controversy over his performance and was hired by Ole Miss to coach Mississippi.Arkansas went 5-7 this year and was not even bowl eligible. Houston Nutt inherited a Mississippi team that was 3-8 last season, was winless in the SEC and had not been to a bowl game since 2003 when Eli Manning was quarterback. This year Ole Miss was 9-4 after polishing off the mighty Texas Tech Red Raiders 47-34 in the 2008 Cotton Bowl.To say that Arkansas’ loss became Mississippi’s gain is nothing short of a massive understatement. Ole Miss students, fans and backers are giddy with excitement and the promise of new glory for their beloved Ole Miss, and well they should be.No. 20-ranked Mississippi came into the Cotton Bowl at 8-4 after starting the season at 3-4 and smarting from consecutive losses to South Carolina and Alabama after pulling off a huge 31-30 upset on the road against then No. 4-ranked Florida. Ole Miss would win its next 5 games, and Florida would ultimately win the national title by beating Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS National Championship Game.No. 8-ranked Texas Tech came into the Cotton Bowl at 11-1 with a 39-33 last-second signature victory over Texas. The Red Raiders explosive offense would end the year ranked No. 1 in the country in passing offense with 413+ yards per game, ranked No. 4 nationally in total offense with 531+ yards per game, and ranked No. 3 in scoring offense with 43+ points per game.Against this backdrop, Houston Nutt’s Ole Miss players did him and themselves proud. For openers, they were the only team to beat the eventual national champion Florida Gators.Mississippi spotted Texas Tech a 14-point lead on a couple of turnovers and then sophomore quarterback Jevan Snead led Ole Miss to touchdowns on their next 3 possessions, an 8-yard pass to junior tight end Gerald Harris, a 41-yard pass to senior wide receiver Mike Wallace and another 21-yard pass to Harris.A 27-yard field goal by junior kicker Joshua Shene put the Rebels up 24-21 at the half. Ole Miss would outscore the Red Raiders touted offense 23-13 in the last half to make the 47-34 score stick.A nifty 65-yard interception return for a touchdown by junior cornerback Marshay Green lifted Ole Miss to a new level. Green would also race another 63 yards on a punt return for an apparent TD that was called back by an official who ruled him out-of-bounds on the “nine and two-thirds yard line”. Have you ever heard of anything so dippy?No matter. Snead would complete 18-of-29 for 292 yards and 3 touchdowns. Freshman running back Brandon Bolden would pick up 101 yards on 11 carries (9.1 yard average), and little 5-foot-8, 165-pound junior wide receiver Dexter McCluster would pick up another 97 yards on 14 carries (6.9 yard average). McCluster also caught 6 passes for 83 yards.Take note that Mississippi’s 4 losses this year totaled a combined 19 points, which makes it even more serious when Texas Tech losing coach Mike Leach said “They’re an incredibly good football team.” Glad you noticed, Mike.This contest made history in at least three ways. It was the last Cotton Bowl that will be played in the Cotton Bowl Stadium, ending a 73-year run. Next year the Cotton Bowl will move to the new $1.1 billion stadium being built for the NFL Dallas Cowboys. Second, the final 47-34 score was the most points (81) to ever be scored in a Cotton Bowl game.Third, the 88,175 fans on hand represented the biggest crowd ever.Trust me when I say that you have not heard the last of first-year coach Houston Nutt and his Ole Miss players. Sound the horn because the Rebels are coming.Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley