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BARNESTORMING: Rebels win and other thoughts around the college football world

by | Sep 8, 2021 | Football | 0 comments

OXFORD, Miss. — In recent seasons, a new phrase has entered the college football lexicon – “chunk plays.”

Ole Miss took that term to heart Monday in the Rebels’ 43-24 win over Louisville. Five different players averaged at least 17 yards per catch. Jonathan Mingo led the way at 27.5, Jahcour Pearson was next at 27.0, followed by Dontario Drummond (19.67), with Jerrion Ealy and Braylon Sanders following at 17.0 yards each.

Quarterback Matt Corral averaged 17.3 yards per completion and Henry Parrish, Jr. also recorded a 23-yard run.


Austin Peay will come into Oxford with more than a few players who will not be intimidated by the Vaught-Hemingway Stadium atmosphere. APSU’s roster features transfers from Syracuse, Memphis, Ohio State, Houston, Kansas State, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, Penn State, and, yes, Ole Miss.

Safety Kam Ruffin played for the Rebels in 2018-19.


The dictionary defines “resilient” as recovering readily from adversity. That is a perfect adjective for Austin Peay’s Alex Whitmore.

He was a two-platoon player at Memphis’ Whitehaven High School, but when Shelby County postponed fall sports last year, the 6-foot-1, 253 pounder appeared to see his high school career end. But this kid wanted to play.

Instead of sitting out, Whitmore joined the Memphis Nighthawks – a team made up of players being homeschooled. He did not join the team just to play, he wanted to win. Whitmore and the Nighthawks won the National Homeschool Football Association’s national championship.

Whitmore was named to the NHFA all-star award honorable mention team.


It was a good opening week for the Southeastern Conference as league teams finished 12-2. There were not just 12 wins on the week, there were pretty much 12 beatings administered by the conference.

In the 12 wins, SEC teams outscored its opponents 469-165. The average score was 39-13.75. In six of its games, the conference teams did not allow the opponent to score in the first half.

The league teams won six of their game by a margin of at least 31 points.


Kansas defeated South Dakota last Friday 17-14 and the Jayhawks’ student body rushed the field in celebration. It is hard to blame the kids since the last time Kansas had won a game was Oct. 26, 2019, when it edged Texas Tech 37-34.

There was a celebration after that game as well. It was Kansas’ homecoming game that year.

The celebration might be short-lived. The Jayhawks play No. 17 Coastal Carolina Friday. KU has played the Chanticleers twice in the past two seasons with CCU winning both games in Lawrence. This time, the game is in Conway, S.C., so at least the Jayhawks get a trip to the beach.

If KU feels like dancing on this trip, the preferred step on The Strand in Myrtle Beach is the Carolina Shag.


Nearly three years ago, McKenzie Milton was near the top of the football world. His UCF Knights were winning games, he was throwing the ball as well as any quarterback in the country and the future looked bright.

Then on one play against South Florida, it all changed.

Milton took a hit to his leg that tore ligaments, dislocated his kneecap and caused severe artery and nerve damage. He very nearly had to have his leg amputated.

During Milton’s time healing, Dillon Gabriel enrolled at UCF and assumed the quarterback duties, leaving Milton without a job. So, he transferred to Florida State.

In his first game as a Seminole, Milton watched as FSU fell behind Notre Dame in the second half. Coach Mike Norvell inserted him into the game, and watched as Milton led the team to ten fourth-quarter points to tie the game.

The Irish prevailed 41-38 in overtime, but just having Milton on the field made him a winner.


A week ago in this space, I predicted an upset in the small college football world. I picked Division II West Florida to upset McNeese State in Lake Charles, La. The final score? UWF 42, McNeese 36.

Before taking a bow, we might want to see how this wild prediction goes.

I will take Troy to upset Liberty at home. 

Troy folks don’t like the ones from Lynchburg, Va. The pair have played three times in history. In 1992, Troy rolled into Lynchburg with an undefeated record and left with its only loss of the year. It was heartbreaking as well. The Trojans missed a game-winning field goal as time expired and finished the season 10-1.

In 2018, Troy visited Liberty again. This time the Flames needed THREE calls to be overturned by replay review to escape with a 22-16 win.

Troy got revenge at home in 1993, thumping the Flames 35-13. This game is in Troy as well.

Liberty will have its hands full with Troy quarterback Taylor Powell. The junior is a transfer from Missouri and last week he completed 17-of-27 for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Trojans routed Southern, 55-3.

Steve Barnes
Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for, and as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.

He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.

A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.

Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.

He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.

Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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