Manning passes his final test
He leads Ole Miss in a record performance
DALLAS -- With another Manning at quarterback, Mississippi finally won another January bowl game.
Eli Manning threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score to lead the No. 16 Rebels to a 31-28 victory over No. 21 Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl yesterday.
The Rebels' last January win came in the 1970 Sugar Bowl when Manning's father, Archie, threw for a touchdown and ran for another score in a 27-22 victory over Arkansas.
Ole Miss had since played in January only twice, both in the Gator Bowl, losing to Auburn in Archie Manning's final game in 1971, and to Michigan in 1991.
Manning's 1-yard keeper in the fourth quarter capped a 97-yard drive, and ended a streak of 24 straight points by Ole Miss (10-3), which finished with its first 10-win season since 1971.
That was just enough to overcome the Cowboys (9-4).
Rashaun Woods caught a 17-yard TD pass to get Oklahoma State to 31-28 with 4:38 left, just four minutes after Vernand Morency's second touchdown run.
Woods set Cotton Bowl records with 11 catches for 223 yards. On the 72-yard drive that ended with Morency's second TD, he caught two passes for 63 yards -- both on plays when cornerback Travis Johnson was called for pass interference and still couldn't prevent the catches.
Oklahoma State's Josh Fields set a Cotton Bowl record with 307 yards on 21-of-33 passing. The junior's touchdown gave him 55 in his career, breaking the school record set by offensive coordinator Mike Gundy (1986-89).
Still, Manning and the Rebels got the win.
Tremaine Turner caught Manning's first TD pass, and also ran for 133 yards and another 2-yard TD to open the scoring in the second half.
Turner's 25-yard run on third-and-5 with 2:43 left was the clincher.
Oklahoma State had just called its last timeout, and the Rebels were able to run out the clock.
Ole Miss also benefited when All-Big 12 cornerback Darrent Williams was called for pass interference on third and 10.
Manning's TD run made it 31-14, ending a 13-yard play drive. He converted third-and-13 and third-and-12 plays with passes of more than 20 yards.
Manning finished with an school-record 10,119 yards passing to become only the fifth player in the Southeastern Conference with 10,000 yards.
That is 1,082 fewer than the SEC record held by older brother Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback who played at Tennessee from 1994-97.
After Jon Holland intercepted Manning's pass on the final play of the first quarter, Oklahoma State was at the Ole Miss 44 and needed only eight plays before Tatum Bell's 3-yard TD run for 14-7 lead.
Ole Miss then scored on four straight series, and Oklahoma State didn't again until the fourth quarter.