Manning is next great Cotton Bowl QB

By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Dec. 22, 2003
OXFORD Roger Staubach. Joe Montana. Eli Manning.
The Ole Miss quarterback will join a long line of legendary signal callers on Jan. 2 when the No. 16 Rebels face No. 21 Oklahoma State in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl.
Manning is his school's career leader in passing yards with 9,860 fifth best in Southeastern Conference history. He threw for 3,341 yards and 27 touchdowns against nine interceptions in 2003.
Earlier this month, Manning won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award as college football's top senior quarterback and the Maxwell Award as the nation's top college football player.
Baker said he has tried to bring Ole Miss to the Cotton Bowl for several years, but several late-season slides have relegated the Rebels to lower-tier bowls. And while Baker said Ole Miss' 9-3 record made the team a strong candidate for an invitation this year, the opportunity to host Manning in his collegiate finale was too good to pass up.
The Cotton Bowl is nearly two weeks away, but Manning has already become the focal point of the event's publicity. The Fox television network, which will air the game at noon on Jan. 2, has aired promotions for the bowl game during its NFL broadcasts since Ole Miss and Oklahoma State were selected. A Cotton Bowl logo and a picture of Manning are shown at the bottom of television screens when the promos run.
The first Heisman Trophy finalist from Ole Miss in 33 years, Manning missed out on becoming the ninth Heisman winner to appear in the Cotton Bowl. Former Texas running back Ricky Williams was the last Heisman Trophy winner to play in the bowl game.
The game will mark the first visit to the Cotton Bowl for Ole Miss since 1962.