An official announcement pairing Ole Miss and Oklahoma State in the 2010 Cotton Bowl is pending, but a rematch of the 2003 showdown between the two teams appears to be all set. Behind the scenes, another battle between the two teams for an Oklahoma offensive lineman has been ongoing for some time.
Tahlequah three-star prospect Chris Littlehead committed to the Cowboys last August, but remains in contact with Ole Miss, where he has several connections.
First, there's former high school teammate Nathan Stanley, now the Rebels' backup quarterback, and then there was an impressive summer camp in 2008 that led to him getting an offer from the Rebels headed into his junior year. Even after committing to Oklahoma State, Littlehead has maintained interest in Ole Miss, including tripping to Oxford for an unofficial visit when the Rebels played UAB in mid-October.
"Everything is going pretty good in recruiting," Littlehead said on Tuesday evening. "I'm still talking to Ole Miss a little. I had a good visit down there and the coaches let me know that they're interested and made me feel welcome."
Despite the overtures from Ole Miss, Littlehead is not ready to give up a sure thing with Oklahoma State.
"I'm about 100 percent committed to Oklahoma State," he said. "I'm pretty sure that's where I'm going."
However, Littlehead said he'll likely take at least three visits before signing day.
"I'm probably going to go to Oklahoma State and Ole Miss," he said. "I'm not sure about the third visit or even if I'll take it, but I may."
He said that if a third trip does materialize, it will be from one of the other schools that has offered. Those include Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Air Force, Baylor, Louisville, Missouri, North Carolina, and Tulsa.
Littlehead acknowledged Tuesday that Ole Miss really hasn't been pushing hard for him right now and he hasn't heard from the Rebel staff about an in-home visit, but he thinks that could change closer to signing day.
"I think they want me," he said. "But at the same time, Ole Miss, as well as some other schools, know that I'm committed. Everything seemed alright when I was down for the visit. I just think if they really want me, they're likely to come after me closer to signing day."
Littlehead said it will be "pretty cool" to see two teams in which he's very interested square off in the Cotton Bowl and that he has been keeping up with both teams, including both losing to in-state rivals on the last day of the regular season.
"Oklahoma State had a pretty good season," Littlehead said. "Their loss to Oklahoma was pretty disappointing, but they had a lot of injuries and I think if they had of been healthy, it would have been different. I think all those players should be back for the Cotton Bowl and it should be a good game."
He also caught Ole Miss' upset loss at the hands of their in-state rival.
"I was shocked at that," he said. "It looked to me like they just has a bad day. They seemed like they messed up a lot, in that game, and in a few others. I didn't get to watch their win over LSU, but caught the highlights. That was a big win and I enjoyed that."
While Ole Miss is recruiting Littlehead as a guard, several schools, including Oklahoma State, are recruiting him as a defensive tackle.
"I don't mind playing either position and it won't impact where I go," he said. "As long as I'm on the field, I don't care which side of the ball I'm playing on."
Littlehead's Tahlequah team finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record, but was upset in the first round of the state playoffs.
He said he felt he had "a real good year," especially on offense. He played both ways, but said he didn't keep up with his defensive stats.