Nittany Lions, Rebels meeting for the first time

Penn State running back Nicholas Singleton (10) celebrates his touchdown against Michigan State during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Penn State running back Nicholas Singleton (10) celebrates his touchdown against Michigan State during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

ATLANTA -- Mississippi will play Penn State in the Dec. 30 Peach Bowl, giving the Rebels their second New Year's Six bowl berth in the last three seasons.

The Peach Bowl matchup between the SEC and Big Ten will be the first meeting between the teams.

"It's also pretty cool that Penn State has never played in the Peach Bowl," Coach James Franklin said Sunday. "It's unusual. In 2023 there are not too many things you can say haven't happened."

Ole Miss (10-2) will be making its third appearance in the Peach Bowl. The Rebels are 1-1 in the game, including a 42-3 loss to TCU following the 2014 season.

Penn State (10-2) closed its season by beating Michigan State 42-0 on Nov. 24.

Ole Miss closed its regular season with a 17-7 win over Mississippi State on Nov. 23. The Rebels lost to Baylor 21-7 in the 2021 Sugar Bowl in their previous New Year's Six bowl under Coach Lane Kiffin.

"Obviously, we have a goal to do better this time around and have the first 11-win finish in the history of our school," Kiffin said.

KOTELNICKI ON BOARD

Penn State hired Andy Kotelnicki from Kansas as offensive coordinator this week. Kotelnicki replaces Mike Yurcich, who was fired on Nov. 12 following a 24-15 home loss to Ohio State. Franklin said running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider and tight ends coach Ty Howle, who served as interim offensive coordinators the last two weeks, will continue in that shared role through the bowl game.

Franklin said Kotelnicki will "be able to sit in all meetings" and "get a feel" for the players. "So when the bowl game ends he can jump in with both feet."

NO REBEL OPT-OUTS

Kiffin said he's not expecting any Ole Miss players to opt-out to prepare for the NFL Draft before the game.

"I would expect that we don't have any," Kiffin said. "We're kind of not in one of those years where we have some first-rounders coming out that are concerned about injuries. ... I don't think we have guys really in that conversation."

STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH

Ole Miss ranks 15th in the nation in total offense, averaging 455.4 yards per game. The offense is led by quarterback Jaxson Dart, who has passed for 2,985 yards with 20 touchdowns and rushed for 377 yards with seven touchdowns. Rebels running back Quinshon Judkins has rushed for 1,052 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Penn State leads the nation in total defense, allowing only 223.2 yards per game. The Nittany Lions rank third with their average of 11.42 points allowed.

TOUR OF ATLANTA

The Rebels will have played in a different stadium in each of their three Peach Bowls. They beat Georgia Tech 41-18 in the 1971 Peach Bowl at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Ole Miss lost to TCU 42-3 at the Georgia Dome following the 2014 season. Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in 2017.

BAKER STICKING AROUND

Ole Miss tight ends coach John David Baker, who has been named East Carolina's offensive coordinator, will remain with the team through the bowl game, according to Kiffin.

"I'm very excited about JDB getting that job and being able to call plays," Kiffin said, adding Baker "can do both jobs and still coach for us."

  photo  Penn State coach James Franklin reacts during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Michigan State, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
 
 
  photo  Mississippi head coach Lane Kiffin paces the field during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Louisiana Monroe in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. Mississippi won 35-3. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)