FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – If anyone is going to call Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom’s phone Saturday night, don’t bother. The call will go straight to voicemail. Every SEC coach will be dialing his number to find out how he came up with a scheme that neither Florida, Kentucky nor Alabama could.
Odom’s defense did more to stop the Ole Miss offense than any other team this season as the Razorbacks’ came away with a 33-21 win at Reynolds’ Razorback Stadium.
Quarterback Matt Corral uncharacteristically threw six interceptions, Ole Miss fumbled once, and the Hogs pulled off a pair of goal-line stands to keep the Rebs’ high-powered offense in check.
Ole Miss had 442 total yards, yet none of them seem to come when it mattered. From the first drive of the game, the Rebels marched down the field and were stopped at the brink of taking an early lead.
Ole Miss took the first possession and drove to the Razorbacks’ one, but facing a fourth down, the ball was mishandled in the backfield, popped free, and Arkansas pounced on it to take over at its own five. It was a 13-play drive yet yielded no points.
“Obviously, we started slow,” head coach Lane Kiffin said in the post game Zoom press conference.
“I think the theme today was opposite of what the season had been. Offensive struggles, the inability to run the ball in the first half, and then obviously the turnovers. Two goal-to-go situations and getting no points out of that. I mean, there are so many opportunities. Had we not screwed that up early, we’re up by three or four scores.“
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin
The second Rebels’ mistake came on the ensuing possession. The Landsharks stopped Arkansas on a three-and-out and forced a punt. But Ty Rocconi ran into the punter to give the Hogs new life. In a blink of an eye, Franks hit Treylon Burks with a short pass and he ran down the left sideline for 56 yards to set the Razorbacks up at the Ole Miss 12.
A handful of plays later, Rakeem Boyd blasted in from a yard out. A.J. Reed added the conversion and Arkansas had 7-0 lead.
Again, the Rebels moved the ball on the ensuing drive, but it stalled and Ole Miss was forced to punt. Mac Brown was able to pin the Hogs at their own two to start the next drive. The Landsharks’ stiffened this time and forced a punt but the Rebels took possession at their own 12.
But again, Ole Miss gave the Hogs a gift. On the second play of the drive, Hudson Clark intercepted Corral to give Arkansas the ball back at the Rebels’ 48. The Razorbacks capitalized on the Ole Miss miscue to a 23-yard Reed field goal and a 10-0 advantage.
Arkansas got another gift immediately. Corral threw an interception to Jalen Catalon who ran it back 35 yards to paydirt and after the conversion, the Rebels found themselves down 17-0.
“You can’t turn the ball over like that and expect to win,” Kiffin said.
The Rebels did move the ball into Arkansas territory on its next drive, but again faltered as they turned the ball over on downs at the Hogs’ 31.
The drive culminated in a 32-yard Reed field goal to put the Hogs up 20-0, but it could have been worse. With Arkansas driving the Razorbacks faced a third down at the Ole Miss 10, Trelon Smith took a pitch, but Jaylen Jones and Jon Haynes dropped him for a five-yard loss to force the field goal.
The score held at halftime. After Ole Miss had scored in all 12 quarters it had played this season – 13 if in the overtime vs. Kentucky counts – the Rebels were shutout in the first two Saturday.
Ole Miss only had 145 yards in the first half, 102 through the air and had three turnovers that led to 17 Arkansas points.
The Rebels’ offense emerged from the halftime locker room looking like, well, the Rebels’ offense. Ole Miss drove 74 yards and converted two fourth downs on the way. The Rebs needed to convert three of them. On fourth-and-goal at the one, Snoop Conner was stuffed at the line of scrimmage and Arkansas took over.
Ole Miss finally got on the board on its next possession. After converting its fourth fourth down, Corral found Elijah Moore with a seven-yard scoring strike and Luke Logan’s kick closed the gap to 20-7. It took Ole Miss 37 minutes, 25 seconds to finally score.
The Landsharks showed its teeth on the second play of the ensuing possession. Franks rolled to his right and was drilled by Lakia Henry to jar the ball loose and LeDarrius Cox fell on the ball at the Arkansas 17.
“Our defense played a lot better,” Kiffin explained. “They played with energy, made turnovers and had good motion and execution. That was good,” he said.
But Ole Miss gave it right back. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Corral was intercepted by Greg Brooks to immediately stop the threat.
Jon Haynes gave the ball back to the Rebel offense by picking off Franks and Ole Miss took over at its own 39.
Yet again, the offense gave it back to Arkansas as Corral was picked off for the fourth time. This one was by Clark at the Hogs’ 29 as the game of hot potato continued to end the third quarter.
Ole Miss capitalized on its first drive of the fourth period. The Rebels drove 66 yards in eight plays and got into the end zone when Corral hit Jonathan Mingo along the sideline, and it turned into a 21-yard touchdown. The Logan kick cut the deficit to 20-14. The touchdown was the only pass of the drive.
Ole Miss cuts Arkansas' lead to just 6. Matt Corral hits Jonathan Mingo for the 22 yard TD pic.twitter.com/IB1hIhAjpy
— . (@FTBBurner11) October 17, 2020
But Arkansas responded with a drive of its own to a one-handed touchdown catch by Burkes. A two-point conversion failed giving the Rebels 7:26 to erase the 26-14 hole they where they found themselves.
Ole Miss was not done fighting. The Rebs called a fake punt and linebacker MoMo Sonogo ran 47 yards to get into Arkansas territory. The Rebels finished off the march when Ealy scored from the one. Logan’s kick sliced into the Hogs’ lead to 26-21 with 5:30 left.
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) October 17, 2020
Corral’s sixth interception went back for an Arkansas touchdown to complete the scoring.
The last time Arkansas won a conference game at home was Nov. 5, 2016 against Florida. Ironically, Franks helped break that streak after he transferred from Florida.
Coming into the game, Ole Miss led the nation with eight pays over 40 yards. Saturday, the Rebels had one and that was on the fake punt. Moreover, tight end Kenny Yeboah, who had been a huge weapon the first three games, did not have a catch and was only targeted one time.
Kiffin tried to look on the bright side after his team’s loss.
“At least we didn’t lose another game by a big score. So, to me, it shows that we can be really good. If we can play offense like we have prior to (today’s) game, and we continue to play defense like today, we can be a really good team. That’ll be the goal moving forward…to get it all put together.“
The Rebels return home next week to take on Auburn.