NEW ORLEANS - Ole Miss arrived in town this afternoon for a week of parties and preparation thinking as much about the Peach Bowl as the Sugar Bowl.
The Rebels will make their second-straight New Year's Six bowl game appearance when they face Oklahoma State New Year's Night in the Sugar Bowl.
Their first experience was a 42-3 loss to another Big 12 opponent, TCU, in last year's Peach Bowl.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze began talking about bowl preparation in the minutes following the Rebels' 38-27 win at rival Mississippi State in the regular season finale.
As most players were coming together for a meal to be followed by meetings and a workout in a hotel ballroom, about 20 of them were still making their way to the Hilton Riverside in the Central Business District.
Freeze was not concerned with the potential for any unusual delays.
"Tonight I get to look those guys in the eyes and remind them why we're here," he said.
Freeze earlier said he would dissect his team's bowl week from last season to determine what, if anything, needed to change for an improved result.
In analyzing then and now his primary concern was that as the designated visiting team last year he had less control over the team's schedule.
"I'm finding that there are some advantages to being the home team, getting to pick some of the things that you do first," he said. "I've made sure the days from this point forward have more consistency to them."
Players say the emotions of playing on that type of stage worked against them last year.
Now they want to show they're ready for New Year's Six bowl games to become more of a trend than at isolated event.
"We had a lot of guys who were not used to the big time, big lights of a New Year's Six bowl game," defensive back Mike Hilton said. "We want to have our fun, but everybody knows what we came down here to do."
Tight end Evan Engram added, "We'll have our fun, but there won't be a minute that goes by that we're not thinking about everything we need to do to win this ballgame."
Freeze said it's an honor for Ole Miss to represent the SEC in the Sugar Bowl, and that should be reflected in how the Rebels handle their downtime.
"The hoopla that surrounds these games, that's great for our sport, but we have to keep our minds on preparing."