It was kind of an odd year for Ole Miss. The Rebels started 4-0, which included a win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa, but then lost three of their next six games, including a 38-10 road loss against offensively inept Florida and a wild and crazy 53-52 overtime loss against Arkansas.
The Sugar Bowl, however, was a different story. Yes, there was a whole lot of up and not much down, as Ole Miss raced to a 41-6 lead over Oklahoma State and won, 48-20.
“We played to our potential,” Ole Miss wide receiver Cody Core said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The times that we lost, we didn’t. We beat ourselves. I believe if we had another shot, we would be probably where Alabama is right now. But we give Alabama the props. Hopefully they take it home for the SEC.”
Alabama, which beat Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl, will play Clemson for the national championship on Jan. 11.
Ole Miss, meanwhile, will have to settle for Sugar Bowl dominance. The Rebels fell behind 3-0 late in the first quarter but then reeled off 27 unanswered points.
“We worked hard as a team, and Chad Kelly connected with all his wide receivers, tight ends and his left tackle,” Core said. “It was a great team win.”
Indeed, offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil caught a lateral and ran two yards for a touchdown to make it 34-6 on the final play of the first half.
“It was a blessing for him,” Core said. “I’m proud of him.”
Core finished with four catches for 91 yards and a touchdown, Evan Engram had six catches for 96 yards, and Laquon Treadwell had six catches for 71 yards and three scores.
“He was going off like he always do,” Core said of Treadwell.
Kelly, meanwhile, was the mastermind behind it all, finishing 21-of-33 for 302 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He also led the Rebels in rushing with 10 carries for 73 yards.
“He was incredible reading the defenses, getting the ball to his receivers on time, handing the ball off to the running backs, telling them which way to go and giving the O-Line the right calls,” Core said. “He’s Chad Kelly. Swag Kelly.”
The Rebels finished the season 10-3 – their best record since 2003, when they went 10-3 with Eli Manning and beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.