"Sweet Dreams" Original Oil Painting
University of Mississippi head football coach, Hugh Freeze grew up with the dream of being in the Sugar Bowl Championship one day. He had this dream as a boy because reaching the Sugar Bowl was the pinnacle of football success in the Southeastern Conference. It has been said that a goal is just a dream until you write it down. Well, when Freeze became the head football coach at Ole Miss he wrote his goal down. This written list of goals he called, “The Journey”. The Coach Freeze Journey was written down and on that list, #7 was that the Rebels would play in the Sugar Bowl. On January 2, 2016 that sweet dream became a reality. Head Coach Freeze told his team as they readied for the Sugar Bowl that this was their time. He said, “There is a time to cry, a time to laugh, this is your time, don't miss out on your moment”. This was the Rebs moment. They entered the Sugar Bowl after completing back-to-back seasons of 10 wins. It was the first time that had happened in the history of the school and bettered the back to back nine win seasons of the 1961 and 1962 Mississippi football teams. The last time Ole Miss had won the Sugar Bowl was January 1st, 1970, when legendary quarterback, Archie Manning led Mississippi to a victory by a 27 to 22 score over Arkansas.
Similarly this time, the Rebels were led into the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma State University by a young and fearless quarterback, Chad Kelly. The painting and edition of prints entitled, Sweet Dreams shows some of the players that had important roles in the Ole Miss Sugar Bowl victory over OSU. The players in the image are, from left to right; OLT-Laremy Tunsil, WR-Laquon Treadwell, RB-Jaylen Walton and QB-Kelly. In the background stands the trophy that goes to the Sugar Bowl Classic Champion and the final scoreboard announcing the win. Kelly led the Rebs to their 48 to 20 victory over the Cowboys by throwing a Sugar Bowl record-tying four touchdowns, with three of them going to wide receiver, Treadwell. Laquon’s three catches also tied the record for Sugar Bowl TD receptions and finished Treadwell’s career with 202 receptions which is the most in Rebel history. The first down of the game came on the first play with a run of 13 yards by Walton. Likewise, the second first down came on the second play of the game by a pass to Evan Ingram who also caught the first TD pass and is #17 on the sideline. Although the first drive was stopped by an interception, these two plays set the tone for how the Mississippi offense would control the game. Ole Miss amassed a Sugar Bowl record-tying 34 points in the first half alone. With only five seconds left in the first half, Kelly rolled right and threw-back a tackle eligible pass to Tunsil who roared into the end zone for a touchdown and the 34 point halftime score. In the second half, Kelly used his rifle right arm to continue the Rebels onslaught of the Cowboys defense. Jordan Wilkins, #22 on the sideline, also had a good day carrying the ball and ran in a 36 yard touchdown to cement the score for Ole Miss. At game’s end, the final score was Ole Miss-48 and Oklahoma State-20. During this 2016 Sugar Bowl, Kelly moved up from seventh to third place in SEC history for a player’s single-season total offense with 4542 total yards. He jumped past Tebow, Newton and Prescott to finish as the second player behind only Manziel’s 2012 and 2013 years.
The Mississippi “Land Sharks” defense was in attack mode as well and had no problem with the Cowboys offense. The Ole Miss defense led by Marquis Haynes and others dominated the line of scrimmage and held the offense of Oklahoma State to negative rushing yards until the fourth quarter when they finally moved into plus rush yardage. Coach Freeze is a relationship guy who has built trust and a relationship with his team and The University of Mississippi family. For all of the years since January 1st, 1970 the Ole Miss faithful have had a dream like Coach Freeze. The night of January 2, 2016 their dream and Freeze’s dream of a Sugar Bowl Championship went from a goal and to a reality. Dreams can come true, and when they do, they are Sweet Dreams.
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