More Woods at OSU; Manning in Ole Miss finale


Thursday, January 1st 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


DALLAS (AP) _ The Woods family may become as famous at Oklahoma State as the Manning one is at Mississippi.

Rashaun Woods will play his final game for Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl on Friday. Besides a legacy as the team's career receiving leader, he's also leaving behind two younger brothers.

D'Juan Woods is a freshman receiver with 27 catches for 428 yards and one touchdown, numbers similar to Rashaun's first season. Donovan is a quarterback who redshirted.

``The boys have intangibles that all the great players have had,'' Cowboys coach Les Miles said. ``Rashaun developed as a player into a leader. It made us even more attracted to the two younger brothers. We expect the other two to have similar successes to what Rashaun has had.''

If so, the No. 21 Cowboys (9-3) may be able to maintain their upward swing.

Oklahoma State is in its first January bowl since 1949, facing No. 16 Ole Miss (9-3). Ole Miss is in its last game with Eli Manning _ the youngest of Archie Manning's three sons _ at quarterback.

The Cowboys have improved in each season under Miles: 4-7 in 2001 to 8-5 with a Houston Bowl win last year and now with a chance for their first 10-win season since Barry Sanders was the running back in 1988.

Rashaun Woods has caught at least two passes in 44 straight games. Even as the target of double coverage, Woods became just the ninth NCAA player with three straight 1,000-yard seasons.

Woods is now fourth on the NCAA career list with 282 catches, and also has 41 TDs. Seven of his 14 scores this season came in a record game at SMU when he had 13 catches for 232 yards.

The Ole Miss quarterback will be remembered for more than just being another Manning after a college career filled with comparisons to his famous father and older brother.

``People knew him because of his name before he even got here,'' said Chris Collins, the Ole Miss career receiving leader (190 catches for 2,546 yards). ``He hasn't lived off his brother's or father's status, but made a name for himself.''

Manning owns 45 school records, 27 of them once held by his father Archie (1968-70), still one of the most popular Rebels ever.

His 9,860 career yards and 79 touchdowns on 807-of-1,332 passing rank in the top five in the Southeastern Conference. Older brother Peyton, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback who played at Tennessee from 1994-97, is above him in each of those categories.

The oldest Manning son, Cooper, was a receiver who went to Ole Miss. He never played because of a narrowing of his spine.

``When I signed, they were expecting me to bring Ole Miss back to the glory days and things like that,'' Eli Manning said. ``I tried not to think about that. That's not my job. My job is to do the best I can.''

That got the Rebels (9-3) to their first January bowl game since 1991, and first Cotton Bowl in 42 years.

Manning is 23-13 as a starter, and this season led the SEC with 278 passing yards a game, along with 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Like his father and brother, he was a Heisman Trophy finalist.

``We always remember those talented players, but Eli carries it to another level,'' said Rebels coach David Cutcliffe, who was Peyton's quarterback coach at Tennessee. ``He's set a work ethic for the other players that will carry on.''

The Rebels have won six of their last seven games, the only loss 17-14 to LSU that kept them from their first SEC championship game. The No. 2 Tigers won the SEC and are playing Oklahoma in Sunday's Sugar Bowl.

Ole Miss' last three bowl wins have been against Big 12 teams in the Independence Bowl since 1998. The Rebels have set school records with 411 points and 5,182 total yards.

Oklahoma State has scored 439 points, just a touchdown short of its 13-game total last year. And even with Woods catching passes from junior Josh Fields (2,178 yards, 20 TDs), the Cowboys have averaged 227 rushing yards a game.

Two-time 1,000-yard rusher Tatum Bell (1,240 yards and 15 TDs) is back after missing the last 2 1/2 games with an ankle injury. Vernand Morency, a sophomore, had consecutive 200-yard games starting in his place.

The Cotton Bowl is sponsored by SBC.