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College football

Manning's finale marks Ole Miss landmark

By Wire services
Published January 3, 2004

DALLAS - Eli Manning stayed another year at Mississippi in hopes of a season just like this: 10 wins and a January victory.

Manning threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score in his final game for Ole Miss, leading the No.16 Rebels to a 31-28 victory over No.21 Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl on Friday.

"Everything about this year has been great. It's been a great run ... it's been a fun ride," said Manning, who completed 22 of 31 passes. "It has to end sometime. We picked a great way to end it."

Not ready for the college experience to end, Manning decided against early entry into the NFL draft last spring. Already considered a top prospect, he only increased his stock with a standout senior season.

Manning threw for 3,600 yards and 29 touchdowns, led the Rebels to their first 10-win season since 1971. He also led Ole Miss' first January victory since the 1970 Sugar Bowl when his father, Archie, threw a touchdown and ran for another in a 27-22 win over Arkansas.

"This raises the bar for us," coach David Cutcliffe said.

Ole Miss' only other January games since that Sugar Bowl had been in the Gator Bowl. The Rebels lost to Auburn in Archie Manning's final game in 1971 and to Michigan in 1991.

"When I came to Ole Miss, everyone expected me to bring the program back to its glory days," Eli Manning said. "I didn't want to put that kind of pressure on myself."

Still, he finished with a school-record 10,119 yards, becoming the fifth Southeastern Conference passer with 10,000 yards. That was 1,082 fewer than the SEC record held by older brother Peyton Manning, the Colts quarterback and the NFL's co-MVP who played at Tennessee from 1994-97.

Manning's 1-yard keeper with 12:32 left ended a 13-play, 97-yard drive and capped a streak of 24 Ole Miss points.

"I just sat there watching him, thinking Eli Manning is a bad boy," said Oklahoma State receiver Rashaun Woods, who set Cotton Bowl records with 11 catches for 223 yards.

And Woods meant that as a compliment.

Peach Bowl: Vols flub it

ATLANTA - Clemson extended Tennessee's woes in the Peach Bowl thanks to a lot of help from the Volunteers.

Chad Jasmin ran for a career-high 130 yards and a touchdown, helping the Tigers upset No. 6 Tennessee 27-14.

Kyle Browning and Duane Coleman added TD runs, helping the Tigers to their fourth straight victory.

The Volunteers lost the Peach Bowl for the second straight season, although the score was a bit closer than the 30-3 rout by Maryland a year ago. In this one, they committed 10 penalties, including two for pass interference, two for unsportsmanlike conduct and two for roughing quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.

James Wilhoit also missed a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter that would have brought Tennessee within seven. The miss came at the end of a 17-play, 62-yard drive, and that pretty much was the Vols' last chance.

Aaron Hunt kicked two field goals for Clemson, which gave the ACC its third straight Peach Bowl victory.

The Tigers hardly needed any help in the first half, an exciting back-and-forth 30 minutes that culminated with a "fumblerooskie" touchdown run by Browning, an 8-yard score that made it 24-14.

Clemson opened in its unique hurry-up offense, with Whitehurst calling most of the plays at the line of scrimmage after first checking with the coaching staff. Tennessee tried to ruin the strategy by waiting until the last possible moment to line up, but it rarely helped.

Casey Clausen, a four-year starter playing in his final game for the Volunteers, threw for 384 yards, nine off his career high, and had two touchdown passes. But Tennessee got little from its running game, finishing with 38 yards on 26 carries.

Leading rusher Cedric Houston didn't start as the Vols went with a three-receiver set, then fumbled on his first carry.

Clemson took a 7-0 lead on the opening possession, going 80 yards in 2:15, a drive capped by an 8-yard run by Coleman.

[Last modified January 3, 2004, 01:33:24]


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