DALLAS (AP) -- Ole Miss isn't just the team that handed Florida its only loss. These Rebels are seriously on the rise.
Behind Jevan Snead's passing, Dexter McCluster's squirming runs and some big returns by Marshay Green, No. 20 Mississippi overcame an early deficit and beat No. 7 Texas Tech 47-34 Friday in the final Cotton Bowl played in the stadium of the same name.
The Red Raiders (11-2) converted a pair of early turnovers into a 14-0 lead, but Snead led the Rebels to touchdowns on their next three drives, followed by a go-ahead field goal shortly before halftime. Once Green returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter, Ole Miss (9-4) was well on its way to capping coach Houston Nutt's first season in grand style.
This was Mississippi's sixth straight win, matching its longest streak since 2003, when Eli Manning was a senior. That also was the last time the Rebels had been to a bowl.
This roll began when Ole Miss was only 3-4 and coming off consecutive losses following its stunning upset at the Swamp.
Although Texas Tech pulled off huge comebacks in its last two bowls, McCluster ended any such thoughts by barreling into the end zone with 4:34 left. When Rebels fans finished clapping, they began chanting "S-E-C! S-E-C!" They did so again with 1:37 left after Ole Miss snuffed out a 2-point conversion attempt, then again following a recovered onside kick.
A little louder and the chants might've been heard at the Big 12 offices about 12 miles away. Still, the message that the fourth-best team in the SEC, according to the polls, is better than the third-best team in the Big 12 will certainly be noted as schools from these leagues -- No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Oklahoma -- meet next week in the national championship game.
Liberty Bowl Kentucky 25, East Carolina 19
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Ventrell Jenkins scooped up a fumble and barreled his 285-pound frame 56 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, helping Kentucky win a program-best third straight bowl game with a 25-19 victory over East Carolina on Friday in the Liberty Bowl.
Kentucky (7-6) never led until Myron Pryor forced a fumble with under 5 minutes left while East Carolina (9-5) was driving. In the mad scramble for the loose ball, Jenkins came up with it and rumbled down the right sideline untouched.