29th Annual Sugar Bowl Classic ~ January 1, 1963
#3 Ole Miss 17 (Final: 10-0-0)
#6 Arkansas 13 (Final: 9-2-0)
How Ole Miss and Arkansas Met in the 1963 Sugar Bowl
Arkansas coach, and future College Football Hall of Famer, Frank Broyles made the succinct assessment: “The difference was Glynn Griffing.”
The Ole Miss quarterback completed 14 of 23 passes for 242 yards, and broke two records (passing yardage and total yardage) to lead the Rebels to not just a Sugar Bowl victory, but also the culmination of the schools’ first perfect season.
In addition to Griffing, Ole Miss thanked a Herculean performance by its defensive line, which may have been the biggest factor in the outcome by repeatedly flushing the Razorback quarterbacks from the pocket and into the unprotected open field.
Early in the game, a weak punt gave the Hogs possession at the Rebel 27 – and the first shot at points. But, in a preview of what was to come, Ole Miss’ viselike defense didn’t allow an inch, and a 43-yard field goal fell short. In the second period, the Rebels’ Billy Carl Irwin made a 32-yard field goal to give Ole Miss the lead.
With six minutes left in the half, on third-and-nine from the Arkansas 19, Arkansas reserve quarterback Billy Gray dropped back and spotted wingback Jerry Lamb 10 yards behind the Rebel secondary. Lamb slowed to catch the arching pass near midfield, stumbled as he turned for the unguarded end zone and then fought to keep his balance for 10, 20, 30 yards more before Buck Randall made a desperate dive. He just grazed Lamb’s back and heel, knocking the staggering receiver off his feet at the 13.
“I don’t know how I caught him…I wanted to kiss him for falling down,” Randall said. The play covered what was then a Sugar Bowl record 68 yards, leading to a 30-yard field goal by Tom McKnelly to tie the score.
On the ensuing kickoff, Dave Jennings fielded the kickoff in the Ole Miss end zone, started to run it out, couldn’t make up his mind and started to step back, then took a knee. “The official signaled it was a safety,” Broyles said. “I thought we had two points…the official quickly reversed his decision, so I guess Jennings didn’t step out of the end zone.”
Griffing then went to work. After receiver, Louis Guy shook off two Razorbacks, the Rebel quarterback dropped a 33-yard pass over his shoulder for a touchdown and a 10-3 advantage.
An Ole Miss fumble at its own 18 early in the second half allowed Arkansas to even the game once again. Billy Moore rolled out from the 5, and dropped a soft pass into the cradled arms of Jesse Branch in the end zone.
Stung, Griffing brought the Rebels right back, driving 80 yards in 10 plays, including connections of 23- and 35-yards with Guy. Griffing sneaked in from the 1.
Scrappy Arkansas fought back, driving deep into the red zone against the stout Ole Miss defense. However, again it was Randall stepping up, as he broke through to tackle Moore at the 4, forcing the Razorbacks to kick another field goal.
Broyles would be severely second-guessed for going for three points at that juncture, even though it was still the third quarter. Vaught agreed with the strategy. “I would have done the same thing,” he said. “He thought he’d have another chance.”
Vaught did not give Broyles another chance. Despite not scoring in the fourth quarter, Ole Miss ate up the clock with three long drives to the 3, 8, and 9. With limited time, Arkansas did not get another sniff of the Rebel goal.
Though the score was close, Ole Miss held an Arkansas squad which had averaged 241.2 yards rushing to just 47. The Arkansas defense, which had led the Southwest Conference by giving up an average of only 200.1 yards, surrendered 429 to the Rebs. Ole Miss had three times as many first downs and two-and-a-half times as much yardage as the Hogs. Arkansas had stayed in the game, but the Rebels proved themselves to be the superior team.
Story excerpted from the book “Sugar Bowl Classic: A History” by Marty Mulé, who covered the game and the organization for decades for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.