HOUSTON- In Wednesday night’s Texas Bowl, Ole Miss Lane Kiffin called plays like he had nothing to lose.
Unfortunately for him, it turns out he did have something to lose- the game itself.
Texas Tech took advantage of four Ole Miss turnover on downs in the first half and rolled to a 42-25 win at NRG Stadium.
Quarterback Tyler Shough was named game MVP with over 300 yards of total offense in what could be his final game. Texas Tech Head coach Joey McGuire said he wasn’t slated to start as of Wednesday morning due to an illness. Still, with the win, Oregon transfer improved to 8-1 as a starter.
“I’m so proud of that young man,” McGuire said postgame. “He’s probably the third quarterback taken (in the NFL draft) if he’s healthy all year.”
In his own territory, Kiffin chose to attempt a fourth-down conversion instead of a punt three different times, and failed all three times in the first half. Texas Tech took advantage of the good field position and never looked back, leading by as much as 19 points.
On the other side, Texas Tech completely neutralized Ole Miss’ star running back Quinshon Judkins. He earned acclaim across the country for a 1,400 yard rushing regular season and led the Southeastern Conference with 16 touchdowns, but rushed for just 68 the fourth quarter. Tech’s defense also intercepted two Jaxson Dart passes, and it scored a special teams touchdown.
With the win, Texas Tech adds another impressive notch to its belt. Texas Tech announced a six-year extension for McGuire there hours prior to kickoff- a firm vote of confidence after topping Texas and Oklahoma in the same season for the first time in program history, and setting a new team record with a 3.1 GPA in just his first season.
McGuire said he’s team’s performance is another reason why bowl games are important to the college football landscape,
“Bowl games are a reward for the players,” McGuire said. “We had a blast all week. We used this time to develop our young players and reward our seniors.”
With the loss, the Rebels finish the season tailing off in the complete opposite direction. Ole Miss lost each of their final four games in 2022 including Wednesday night to sour what was a promising 8-1 start that saw them rank as high as No. 9 in the AP poll.
Still, Kiffin, who turned down overtures from SEC rival Auburn to remain at Ole Miss for next season, said he’s encouraged about the future with young talent like Judkins in tow.
“We have to always look at everything to make the program the best,” Kiffin said. “We don’t ever say, well, that guy is okay. We don’t do that in coaching.”
Despite playing in contrasting leagues, interestingly, the Rebels most common bowl opponent with three prior matchups. The meeting. marked met for the third matchup in the last 14 years. There was palpable excitement on both sides, and Texas Tech fans kept the momentum into the stands. Red Raider fans quickly sold off its allotment of 6,000 tickets in the weeks prior to the game and dominated the crowd on gameday. Interestingly enough, exactly 47 points had been scored in the last two matchups prior- including a regular season matchup at NRG Stadium in 2018.
Ole Miss will look to bounce back to open the 2023 season at home against Mercer on Sep. 2 in Oxford. Texas Tech will look to solidify its bright future on the road at Wyoming the same day.