Postgame Points : Arkansas 53, Ole Miss 52
1. Playing For Ten
Ole Miss suffered a heartbreaking 53-52 overtime loss to Arkansas on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. In a back-and-forth game filled with offensive fireworks, Ole Miss had several chances to win the game in regulation and in overtime. However, Arkansas seemed to have nine lives and made plays to stay alive time and time again with their backs to the wall. In the end, the ball bounced the way of the Razorbacks on an incredible fourth-down lateral, and the Hogs simply made one more play than the Rebels to grab the victory.
While the Rebels do not control their own destiny in the SEC West race, Ole Miss has a lot to play for in the final 2 games of the regular season. The Rebels need to regroup during the bye week, rest, and get some players healthy for the homestretch. Ole Miss can finish first or second in the West by defeating LSU and Mississippi State. Though Alabama would have to lose a game for the Rebels to win the West, after the way the Arkansas game ended in unlikely fashion, it goes to show that anything can happen in college football.
Regardless of what happens with Alabama, Ole Miss can claim second place in the West by winning out. Including a bowl game, the Rebels are playing for ten wins, at this point. Ole Miss has not finished a season with 10 wins since 2003, when Eli Manning took the Rebels to the Cotton Bowl.
2. Quarterback Running
Chad Kelly was able to gash the Arkansas defense for big runs all afternoon. Kelly ran the ball 11 times for 110 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Razorbacks. Kelly accounted for half of the Rebels 222 yards on the ground. Kelly was the leading rusher for Ole Miss and for the game, topping star tailback Alex Collins of Arkansas by 2 yards.
The 110 yards on the ground are a career-high for the junior quarterback from Buffalo, New York. He averaged 10 yards per carry against the Razorbacks. As well, Kelly now leads Ole Miss with 7 rushing touchdowns on the season.
3. Quarterback Passing
As effective as Kelly was running the ball against Arkansas, he did even more damage to the Razorbacks defense with his arm. For the game, Kelly completed 24 of 34 pass attempts, which amounts to a seventy-percent completion rate. The junior signal-caller passed for 368 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Kelly averaged over 15 yards per completion on the afternoon.
Kelly has thrown for a touchdown in all 10 games this season. The streak of tossing a touchdown pass in 10 straight games is the fourth-best mark in school history. As well, Kelly owns the single-season school record for most 300-yard passing games with 7. On the career list of 300-yard passing performances, he trails only Eli Manning (10) and Bo Wallace (11).
4. Receiving Corps
The Ole Miss receiving corps had another banner game on Saturday. Seven different players caught a pass from Chad Kelly. Three Rebel receivers scored a touchdown.
Laquon Treadwell turned in his usual workload, hauling in 7 passes for 132 yards and 1 score to pace the Rebels. Treadwell has had over 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in a school-record 5 straight games now. Also, he established a new school single-season record with his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the year. Further, Treadwell became just the second Rebel receiver to surpass 1,000 yards in a season on Saturday. With 1,002 yards on the year, Treadwell needs just 133 yards to set the new single-season school record.
In addition to Treadwell’s exploits, Markell Pack had a solid afternoon. Pack grabbed 5 passes for 76 yards against Arkansas. Cody Core had 3 receptions for 48 yards, while Evan Engram recorded 3 catches for 35 yards. Quincy Adeboyejo contributed 3 receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown. Adeboyejo’s score with just under 5 minutes to play looked as if it might be the game-winner, but the Razorbacks had just enough time to drive the length of the field and score in the final minute to force overtime.
In all, Ole Miss receivers collected 24 passes, 3 touchdowns, 18 first-downs, and 368 yards on the day. Chad Kelly and his perimeter stars continue to shine and to give Ole Miss a chance to win every game.
In his Monday press conference, Coach Hugh Freeze noted that Saturday’s game was perhaps the most efficient performance by his offense all season. The statistics support his statement. Ole Miss eclipsed 550 yards in total offense for the second straight week, and the 590 total yards represent the most against an SEC opponent in the Hugh Freeze era.
Ole Miss averaged almost 7 yards per run and more than 15 yards per completion, and the Rebels scored 4 touchdowns on the ground and 3 more through the air. Ole Miss had zero turnovers and only 4 penalties for 22 yards on Saturday. The Rebels were perfect in 7 red-zone opportunities, scoring 6 touchdowns and a field goal. Further, the Rebels converted 6 of 10 third-down attempts in the game. Ole Miss only punted the ball away 3 times.
Even more incredible, Ole Miss put 52 points on the scoreboard while possessing the ball for just 19 minutes on offense the entire game. Another way to view that is that the Rebels scored just shy of 3 points-per-minute of ball possession as on offense on the day. Wow!
Feature image credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk