Even with the odds seemingly in its favor, Texas Tech again found a way to lose a bowl game.
Mississippi had a new coach _ one forced to learn the Ole Miss system rather than installing his own _ a quarterback playing his first game since breaking his collarbone and was without No. 2 receiver Grant Heard, who injured his knee in practice.
But when the Independence Bowl ended late Thursday night, Texas Tech had dropped to 5-17-1 in post-season games. The Red Raiders are 1-4 in the 1990s, the only victory 55-41 over Air Force in the 1995 Copper Bowl.
"You know the sad thing about this game, never in my life have I seen a team that I thought was more ready to play, one that had worked any harder," Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes said after the 35-18 defeat. "The players had done anything we asked. I thought we would really play a heck of a game."
Sophomore Romaro Miller, who broke his collarbone Nov. 21, set an Independence Bowl record with three touchdowns and Deuce McAllister scored three TDs _ by run, pass and kickoff return _ as Rebels coach David Cutcliffe, the former offensive coordinator at Tennessee who was hired Dec. 2 to replace Tommy Tuberville, won his debut.
"David did exactly what he said he would do. They threw a few things in that we hadn't seen," Dykes said. "David Cutcliffe, under the circumstances, did a magnificent job."
Not only did he have less than a month to prepare but Cutcliffe spent time in the hospital over Christmas because of an inflamed pancreas, a condition that was still causing him pain this week.
WASHINGTON: AD Barbara Hedges, who fired Jim Lambright earlier in the week, has spoken with at least two candidates. Hedges called Idaho coach Chris Tormey on Friday, one day after asking for permission to talk with Toledo coach Gary Pinkel.
Pinkel, 46, led the Rockets to a 57-31-3 record the past eight years. Before that, he was a player for former Huskies coach Don James at Kent State, and coached on James' UW staffs for 12 years, the final seven as offensive coordinator.
MIDDLE TENN. STATE: Air Force receivers coach Larry Fedora was named offensive coordinator. He will be reunited with Andy McCollum, who recently accepted the head job. Fedora and McCollum were assistants at Baylor for most of the early 1990s. "Working for coach (Fisher) DeBerry, it doesn't get any better," Fedora said. "But my goal is to be a head coach someday, and this is the right step for me to reach that goal."