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Saturday, December 27th, 2008

OLE MISS OPENS AT&T COTTON BOWL PREPARATIONS AT SMU

The No. 20 Ole Miss Rebels opened preparations for the 73rd AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic with a two-hour workout at SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

Ole Miss (8-4, 5-3 SEC) moved up its scheduled practice time 30 minutes to avoid the threat of inclement weather. However, the forecast turned to the Rebels’ favor experiencing a sunny session with a moderate breeze on SMU’s home turf. The Rebels practiced in pads and pants in front of a crowd of fans and area high school coaches.

“You could tell we were rusty a little bit by the Christmas break. We got to get that turkey and everything out of them,” said Ole Miss head coach Huston Nutt. “At the end (of practice), we came on. It was good but, a little bit, you could tell we didn’t practice in seven days.”

The Rebels are making consecutive postseason appearances at the same bowl game since back-to-back trips to the Independence Bowl following the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Ole Miss’ last postseason appearance was the 68th Classic, which saw the Rebels edge Oklahoma State 31-28 for their first 10-win season since 1971.  

Coach Nutt is making his third AT&T Cotton Bowl appearance leading Arkansas to the 2000 and 2002 Classics. In 2007, he led Arkansas to an 8-4 record and a bid to the 72nd Classic but did not coach the Razorbacks in the game.

“This is one of the best bowls in the country and I just really love it,” said Nutt. “The hospitality group led by Rick Baker and staff and the things they do, it’s really one of the best in America. Our players are finding out from their first bowl experience that being at the Cotton Bowl is a dream come true. I’m excited, from being here before, but I think they’ve upgraded everything. They’ve really outstanding.”

After practice, Ole Miss conducted its media day and, later in the evening will enjoy its first social outing in Dallas, the FOX Sports Welcome featuring comedian Frank Caliendo.

On Sunday, the Rebels will conduct their second practice on the SMU campus. This practice and all other remaining Ole Miss practices in Dallas will be open to the media but closed to the public. Media can obtain pictures and video from the first 20 minutes of practice.

Following Sunday’s practice, Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix along with sophomore LB Jonathan Cornell, senior DT Peria Jerry, sophomore DE Kentrell Lockett, senior SS Jamarca Sanford and junior DE Marcus Tillman will participate in a news conference at the Omni Mandalay Hotel beginning at 3 p.m.

The 73rd AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will be televised nationally on FOX Sports and broadcasted nationally on Westwood One Radio. Kickoff is slated for 1:15 p.m. CST.
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