It’s OSU vs. Ole Miss (thanks to Texas upset)

With Baylor down to their fourth string quarterback, the Bear got knocked out of the Sugar Bowl with a loss to 5-7 Texas.

The BU loss was Oklahoma State’s gain.

The Cowboys, who tied TCU for second place in the Big 12, have been invited to play in the Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl normally takes the Big 12 champion but since Oklahoma is headed to the national semifinals in the Orange Bowl, OSU (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) got the invitation because they beat TCU this year.

The prestigious Sugar Bowl will be at 7:30 on January 1 in the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. It will be televised by ESPN.

“We are very excited to compete in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, where a very notable chapter in our program’s history was written 70 years ago,” said Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder. “What a great reward for our players, coaches, alumni and fans to ring in the New Year while enjoying the world famous food and hospitality of New Orleans.”

“We are honored to accept an invitation to the AllState Sugar Bowl and be one of only five teams to return a ‘New Year’s Six’ bowl,” said Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork. “I want to congratulate our student-athletes and coaches for their dedication, hard work and commitment in maintaining our program’s status among the elite in college football. I’m excited for Rebel Nation to be able to renew our rich tradition in one of the premier bowl games in college football. With our past bowl crowds, we have established ourselves as one of the most supportive fanbases in the nation, and I expect this year to be no different. New Orleans will be painted Red and Blue!”

This is the fourth time that Mike Gundy has coached the Cowboys to a bowl game now referred to as one of the New Year’s Six since 2010. The Pokes appeared in the 2010 Cotton Bowl, the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, the 2014 Cotton Bowl and now the 2016 Allstate Sugar Bowl.

“We are very excited about our invitation to the Allstate Sugar Bowl,” said Gundy. “What a great opportunity for our young men who have worked so hard over the last 11 months. Congrats to Ole Miss and their team. We’re looking forward to a great game in a historic bowl.”

This is the first Big 12/Southeastern Conference match since those two Power Five conferences agreed to send their champions.

Alabama won the SEC, but like Oklahoma, the Crimson Tide is head for a national semifinal in the Cotton Bowl against Big 10 champion Michigan State.

The Sugar Bowl picked Mississippi, the only team to beat Alabama this season, to face the Cowboys.

The Sugar Bowl will host the top available teams from each conference eight times in the next 11 years – in the other three seasons (2017, 2020 and 2023), the Sugar Bowl will serve as a College Football Playoff Semifinal. The agreement runs through the 2025 season.

“We’re very excited for the opportunity to host these great representatives of the Big 12 and the SEC,” said T. Carey Wicker, III, the President of the Sugar Bowl Committee. “Both teams have had outstanding seasons and bring exciting styles of play to New Orleans. This will be another wonderful opportunity for us to welcome thousands of fans to this great city and show off all it has to offer – world-class cuisine, trend-setting music, outstanding gridiron competition and more. We look forward to introducing our unique flavor of hospitality to the players, coaches, administrators and fans from these two great universities.”

“One of the Sugar Bowl’s primary objectives has been to preserve its great history while also ensuring a bright and healthy future,” said CEO Paul Hoolahan. “This year’s matchup between Oklahoma State and Ole Miss embodies that objective as both schools have played a part in the Bowl’s rich past – Oklahoma State last competed here in 1946 and Ole Miss in 1970 when Archie Manning was the quarterback.  Now, with our relationship with the Big 12 and SEC stretching through the 2026 game, we can confidently say the present and future look as good as our past.”

Ole Miss (9-3, 6-2 SEC) is ranked No. 12, while Oklahoma State is ranked No. 16.

The last Big 12-SEC meeting in the Sugar Bowl was just two seasons ago when Oklahoma knocked off Alabama, 45-31, in the 2014 Classic.

Oklahoma State has been ranked in the top 15 of the Associated Press poll in seven of the last eight seasons and has posted 10-win seasons in four of the last six years. Only once has OSU finished lower than third in the Big 12 since 2009.

Under coach Mike Gundy, the Cowboys have scored 50 or more points 30 times, 60 or more points 10 times and 70 or more points three times in his 11-year tenure in Stillwater.

Gundy has an all-time record of 94-46 (.671) with the Cowboys.

Since the hiring of Hugh Freeze in 2012, Ole Miss has experienced a quick resurgence. In Freeze’s first season, the Rebels had a five-game improvement. He followed that with eight wins in 2013 and nine in both 2014 and 2015. His 33 wins in a four-year stretch are the best at Ole Miss since Hall of Fame coach Johnny Vaught led the Rebels to 36 wins from 1960-63 – a stretch that included three trips to the Sugar Bowl.

In his four years in Oxford, Freeze has posted a mark of 33-18 (.647). His overall head coaching mark, including two years at Lambuth and one year at Arkansas State, is 63-25 (.716).

“I’m proud of our program for being one of the few to make it back to a ‘New Year’s Six’ bowl,” Freeze said. “My childhood was spent hearing Rebel fans talk about Archie leading us to a Sugar Bowl win, and I’m thrilled for our players, coaches and fans to return to New Orleans and represent the Southeastern Conference. Oklahoma State is an outstanding team and we have a great challenge in front of us, but I know Rebel Nation will come in force and provide us tremendous support as they have in every bowl game.”

Both Gundy and Freeze are natives of the states they now represent on the sidelines. Gundy is a native of Midwest City and was a star quarterback for the Cowboys from 1986-89, helping his team to a pair of bowl wins – the Sun Bowl in 1987 and the Holiday Bowl in 1988. Freeze was born in Oxford and raised in Independence, Miss. He is a graduate of Southern Miss.

Oklahoma State will be making its second appearance in the Sugar Bowl. The school’s first and only appearance was in the 1946 when they were known as the Oklahoma A&M Aggies and had captured the Missouri Valley Conference Championship.

In that game, Bob Fenimore led the fifth-ranked Aggies to a 33-13 victory over No. 7 St. Mary’s from California.

Ole Miss, meanwhile, has a long history with the Sugar Bowl, though the Rebels will be making their first appearance since Archie Manning led them to a 27-22 upset of Arkansas in the 1970 game. Overall, Ole Miss has a 5-3 record in the Sugar Bowl, with all eight appearances coming between 1953 and 1970 under the direction of Vaught.

This will be Oklahoma State’s 26th overall bowl appearance (16-9), while the Rebels will be going to their 37th bowl game (23-13). The Cowboys have played in a school-record nine straight bowl games entering this year while this will be the fourth consecutive season that Ole Miss has advanced to a bowl.

Despite the long histories for both programs, this will be just the third meeting between the two teams.

Both previous meetings came in the Cotton Bowl with Ole Miss winning both: 31-28 following the 2003 season, with New Orleans native Eli Manning at quarterback, and 21-7 following the 2009 campaign.

Oklahoma State has a 54-77-1 (.413) all-time mark against SEC teams, while Ole Miss is 13-12 (.520) all-time against the Big 12 (current membership).

For the fourth time in the last six seasons, Oklahoma State has won 10 games. Only Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and Stanford have more 10-win seasons this decade.