OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss lost a heartbreaker to South Carolina, 48-44, at Vaught-Hemingway Saturday. The Rebels owned a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t quite stop the Gamecocks from scoring the winning touchdown with 5:50 left in the game. Here are some of our observations on the loss.
Early on, it was clear this game would feature a lot of points and many yards. In fact, the two teams combined to end the first half with a staggering 749 yards of total offense.
Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, who was forced to exit the game a couple of times due to injury, showed his ability to put up video game numbers regardless of his health situation.
With help from a multitude of receivers, Ta’amu put up an impressive 379 passing yards while also rushing for 66 yards and 1 touchdown. One of the main reasons for the Rebels’ offensive effectiveness was the ability of the big men up front to create time and space for Ta’amu to find his receivers downfield.
By the end of the game, Ole Miss and South Carolina had combined for 1,126 yards and a total of 92 points. (Hope you took the over!)
While the Rebels’ offense was able to put up some big numbers throughout the game, it struggled at other times to find consistency. Nine of Ole MIss’ 14 drives ended in either a field goal, turnover, or three-and-out.
At times, the Rebels found themselves in 3rd-and-long situations, and they struggled to covert consistently. They finished the game converting 6 of 17 on third down for a 35.3 percentage. In the end, that is part of what allowed South Carolina to stay close and score crucial touchdowns late in the game.
Both South Carolina and Ole Miss struggled at times defensively. The Rebels’ defense has been riddled with injuries this season and that lack of depth was apparent, especially late in the game when Ole Miss was unable to get stops on some of the most important drives of the game. In the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks were able to break a big 69-yard run to put South Carolina in position for the go-ahead score that would ultimately prove the difference in the game.
While there were bright spots, including some 3rd and 4th down stands, there was just not enough in the tank to hold back Jake Bentley and the South Carolina offense who notched over 360 yards through the air.
On the ground, Ole Miss definitely made some improvements. Until that 69-yard run in the fourth, Ole Miss had held the Gamecocks to well under 100 yards rushing. But that long run proved costly.
Juco transfer Scottie Phillips continues his march toward 1,000 yards. Against South Carolina, Phillips showed off his incredible power and footwork en route to gaining 141 rushing yards and scoring three touchdowns.
Scottie is now sitting at 923 net yards for the season with three games to go.
This is a good sign for the Rebels heading into the final 3 games of the season because the defenses get no less tough, and Ole Miss will need a rusher who can be relied on in game changing moments.
The Rebels (5-4, 1-4 SEC) will travel to Texas A&M (5-4, 3-3) next Saturday in College Station to face an Aggie team who fell to Auburn, 28-24, this weekend. Kickoff has been set for 11:00 a.m. at Kyle Field.