OXFORD, Miss. — Auburn used a fortuitous bounce on a kickoff to outlast Ole Miss and pick up a 35-28-win Saturday. Although the Rebels fall to 1-4, you can bet not many teams want to face them the rest of the season. Ole Miss is what is known as a tough beat.
Here is the Rebel Walk’s initial impression of the game in a nutshell:
THE POSITIVE: Ole Miss found a way to play both Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee in the same game. The duo combined for 136 yards rushing and another 161 passing. Most importantly, the Rebels have perhaps given the SEC defensive coordinators a lot more work to do when planning to stop this offense.
THE NEGATIVE: COVID-19, injuries and a slow NCAA ruling on defense. Ole Miss has been deprived of players from all three situations. The Rebels have missed players from social distancing, bumps and bruises and the NCAA continuing to drag its heels on Otis Reese’s eligibility. Ole Miss has taken to playing offensive players on defense. Against Auburn, Tylan Knight and Miles Battle both played in the secondary. Each produced some big plays. Knight made two big special team tackles and four overall, while Battle was responsible for a big pass break up in the fourth quarter.
THE KEY PLAY: Aside from the muffed kickoff, the key play was during what appeared to be the Rebels’ winning drive. Facing a third-and-10, Corral found Jonathan Mingo with a swing pass to convert a first down. Ole Miss scored on the next play.
THE KEY UNIT: The offensive line. The guys up front only surrendered one sack during the game and held their own against a massive Auburn defensive front. The unit enabled the Rebels to run for 283 yards.
THE MOMENTUM SHIFTER: The wasted plays. There was a failed fake field goal, an interception in the end zone and way too many dropped passes from the receivers. Taken together, that was a bunch of points taken off the scoreboard.
WHAT THIS MEANS GOING FORWARD: Ole Miss goes to Vanderbilt next week. The winless Commodores are reeling from the results of the COVID crisis as much as any team. But this is the test for the Rebels: for a change this season, Ole Miss should be a heavy favorite. Will Ole Miss seize the momentum it has been building or will the Rebels fall into a funk?