Getting ready for Indy, Liberty bowls

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 1999

A few bowl notes to whet your appetite for today’s Ole Miss-Oklahoma Independence Bowl game and the Southern Miss-Colorado State Liberty Bowl contest.

The Liberty Bowl kicks off at 4 p.m., while the Independence Bowl has a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

The 1999 Sanford Independence Bowl gives Ole Miss three consecutive bowl appearances for the first time since the Rebels’ run of 15 straight from the 1958 Sugar Bowl to the 1971 Peach Bowl under John Vaught and Billy Kinard.

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Vaught led Ole Miss to 14 of those appearances, with Kinard coaching the Rebels to the 1971 Peach Bowl.

Southern Miss will come into their game riding a three-game winning streak while the Rams have won five-straight. USM’s last loss came on October 30 with a 35-14 road loss to SEC Champion and No. 5 Alabama. USM’s three losses this season have come to No. 3 Nebraska (20-13), No. 13 Texas A&M (23-6) and Alabama. Colorado State’s losses have come against No. 25 Brigham Young (34-13), Fresno State (44-13) and San Diego State (17-10).

Last year, Ole Miss head coach David Cutcliffe was an assistant coach at Tennessee, handling the offense, while Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was over the defense at Florida.

Southern Miss and Colorado State have met two times in both programs’ respective histories, but neither meeting has taken place in the postseason.

Ole Miss joins Florida, Georgia and Tennessee as the only SEC schools to have earned a trip to a bowl game the past three seasons, and the Rebels are the only team from the SEC Western Division to do so.

Southern Miss’ appearance in the Liberty Bowl will be the 11th bowl in the history of the program and the third-consecutive in Jeff Bower’s tenure.

Bower coached the Golden Eagles in the 1990 All-American Bowl after being named USM Head Coach after Curley Hallman left the program to become the head coach at LSU. Bower is 1-1 in bowl games and as a program, the Golden Eagles are 3-7 in bowl games. This will be the program’s second appearance in the Liberty Bowl.

Ole Miss carries a three-game bowl winning streak (defeating Air Force in the Liberty; Marshall in the Motor City Bowl and Texas Tech last year in the Independence) into today’s game, its longest streak since winning five straight bowl games from 1956-61 under Vaught.

During that stretch, Ole Miss defeated TCU, 14-13, in the 1956 Cotton Bowl; Texas, 39-7, in the 1958 Sugar Bowl; Florida, 7-3, in the 1958 Gator Bowl; LSU, 21-0, in the 1960 Sugar Bowl; and Rice, 14-6, in the 1961 Sugar Bowl.

With a final regular season ranking of No. 14 in the Coaches’ Poll and No. 16 in the AP Poll, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles have been nationally ranked in 15 of the last 37 weeks.

Southern Miss has been ranked 26 times in Division I and Bower has been a part of all 26. He has been a part of seven teams that were ranked as an assistant and 19 as a head coach.

With ESPN’s telecast of today’s game, Ole Miss will tie the school record for most TV appearances in a season at seven set in 1997.

Cutcliffe and Stoops are one of 20 NCAA&160;Division I-A coaches in 1999 in their first year at their respective school.

They are also one of 10 new coaches that took their new position after serving as an assistant coach the year before.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at