Local Athletics

Published on December 22nd, 2014 | by Carver Rayburn


Charge of the Light Brigade

No. 9 Ole Miss vs. No. 6 TCU
December 31, 2014
11:30 AM CST • ESPN
Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Expectations for the 2014 season were high.

Hugh Freeze had taken a team that went 2-10 (0-8) in 2011 to consecutive bowl games, increasing the team’s win total from to seven in 2012 and eight in 2013. The speculators ranked the Rebels as high as 16 in preseason publications and the Ole Miss faithful responded, buying season tickets in record breaking numbers.

But no one saw this one coming.

2014-10-04-Goalpost-MaxMcDonaldsonjpgESPN College GameDay. In The Grove. No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 11 Ole Miss.

Rebels win in dramatic fashion. Coming from behind in the fourth quarter to knock off the envy-laden Crimson Tide, 23-17.

Chaos. Celebrations. Goal Posts. Bjork asking for a piece of the post. Raising funds to pay the fine and then some in 48 hours. A day that will be remembered for decades.

Ole Miss would climb as high as No. 3 in the polls and sat at No. 4 in the first ever College Football Playoff Poll. Two heart breaking and season-ending losses to LSU and Auburn took all the wind from the sails of Freeze’s ship and Ole Miss laid an egg at Arkansas to drop to 8-3 on the season.

FB2014numbers-7Charge of the Light Brigade. Ole Miss limped into an Egg Bowl against Mississippi State, surely to meet their death.

The Bulldogs, ranked No. 4 only needed a win to solidify their claim to be included in the College Football Playoff. A trip to the Sugar Bowl would be their reward. Then, the game started.

Behind a 91-yard touchdown run and a 31-yard halfback pass for a score, No. 19 Ole Miss throttled No. 4 Mississippi State 31-17.

“It’s a great feeling to reclaim the pride of our program and win the Egg Bowl,” Freeze said after the game. “It’s a priority we have every year. To get that done tonight, with facing some adversity, I’m so proud of our young men.”

The Ole Miss defense held Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott to just 48 yards rushing and sacked the sophomore Heisman hopeful four times.

Bear and Crowd“Tonight, I was making sure everyone on the sideline knew if they were going to beat us, they were going to have to kill us,” defensive lineman C.J. Johnson said.

With wins over No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Mississippi State, Ole Miss defeated two Top 5 programs in the same season for the first time since 1969.

The last time an Ole Miss squad won nine regular season games was in 2003. This year’s squad defeated three 10-win teams and finished with the nation’s top scoring defense, allowing just 13.8 points per game.

20-054-IMG_5708Also of note is that three of those Rebel victories came against teams playing in Big Six Bowls: Alabama (Sugar), Mississippi State (Orange) and Boise State (Fiesta).

Now, they get a shot at No. 6 TCU. Peaches, baby.

“It’s an exciting time in college athletics, and we are thrilled to be one of the teams selected in the first ‘New Year’s Six’ bowls,” Freeze said. “We are honored to accept this great invitation and take on an outstanding TCU team. Atlanta is a place that is very dear to our program, and it’s important to us that we represent our great university.”

TCU-hornedfrogs-helmetNo. 9 Ole Miss will face No. 6 Texas Christian in the 47th Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The meeting will be the seventh time the two teams have played each other, with Ole Miss leading the series 5-1. The Rebels last played TCU in 1983, Billy Brewer’s first year. The 20-7 road win over the Horned Frogs began a five game win streak that landed Ole Miss in the Independence Bowl. Other TCU ties include the fact that legendary coach John Vaught is a Horned Frogs alum.

The Peach Bowl will mark the 36th postseason appearance for Ole Miss, tied for 18th in the NCAA. The Rebels are 23-12 in bowl games, tied for ninth-most in NCAA history.

PrintSince 1992, Ole Miss has lost just one bowl game, the 2000 Music City Bowl, where they fell short in a comeback attempt, 49-38. They are 10-1 during that frame, including a NCAA best six straight bowl victories.

This will mark Ole Miss’ second appearance in the Peach Bowl, having defeated Georgia Tech 41-18 in the 1971 game.

“The Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl staff does a great job of hosting a first-class bowl game and festivities, and I am confident Rebel Nation will take over Atlanta during the holiday season,” Bjork said. “Congratulations to everyone, and We are Ole Miss!”

The game will be played on New Year’s Eve at 11:30am and can be seen on ESPN. Ole Miss has reported selling over 17,000 tickets to the game.  The Local Voice Ligature

Click HERE for a list of “peachy” events happening in Atlanta from December 29 – 31st.

This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #219 (published December 18, 2014).
To download a PDF of this issue, click here.

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About the Author

Carver Rayburn was born and raised an Ole Miss Rebel in Oxford, Mississippi. He has worked for many newspapers and magazines in both editorial and advertising, including OffBeat Magazine, The Hattiesburg American, The Meridian Star, The Neshoba Democrat, The Madison County Journal, The Clarke County Tribune, The New Albany Gazette, Southeastern Football Saturdays, and Rebel Yell. He currently lives in New Orleans and has a four-year-old son, Hart. You can contact Carver at carverrayburn@hotmail.com.

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