I watched this game in disbelief. I knew going in that the Arkansas Razorbacks are a good football team. But I didn’t know how well they’d play against the Ole Miss Rebels.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Arkansas always finds a way to make games against Ole Miss interesting. This game was no different. The Arkansas Razorbacks won 33-21 on the back of a truly awful performance by Rebels’ quarterback Matt Corral.
The game didn’t get off to a great start for the Rebels. Even though the defense came through and forced a quick three and out, the ensuing drive ended in disaster. The Rebels drove to the Arkansas 1-yard line, but Corral fumbled the snap and the Razorbacks recovered the ball.
As would prove to be the major theme for this game, the Razorbacks capitalized on Rebel mistakes. Feleipe Franks and Co. drove for a touchdown following the turnover. Arkansas took the lead and never looked back.
After a three and out by both teams, the Rebels only ran two plays. A jet sweep to Elijah Moore gained about eight yards. The next was Corral’s first interception of the game. Arkansas isn’t able to put it in the endzone but settles for a field goal. 10-0 Razorbacks.
It took just one play and ten seconds for the Hogs to extend their lead. On the first play of the next drive, Corral throws his second pick of the day. This one is returned for a touchdown. 17-0.
The rest of the half wouldn’t turn the corner for the Ole Miss Rebels. They turned the ball over on downs before punting the ball away twice more before halftime. Arkansas tacked on another field goal to make it 20-0 at the end of the first half.
The first drive of the second half was encouraging, but still didn’t pay dirt. On the backs of Snoop Conner and Elijah Moore, the Rebels drove to the Arkansas 1 yard line… again. And got stuffed on fourth down… again.
Luckily, the Rebels’ defense showed improvement and forced another punt. On the drive after, the Ole Miss Rebels finally put the ball in the endzone. Moore, Conner, and Jerrion Ealy, another running back, made up most of the drive. The drive was capped off by a seven-yard touchdown reception by Elijah Moore.
The next four drives total would be indicative of the whole game. With a 13-point lead, Arkansas fumbles after one play. On the Rebels’ first play, Corral throws yet another interception. Not to be outdone, Franks throws another pick himself. In a “strange” turn of events, Corral keeps the ball for just over a minute before throwing his fourth interception of the game.
These three disastrous drives get followed up by a trio of exceptional offensive drives. The Ole Miss Rebels’ defense forces a three and out, giving their offense a chance at redemption. The offense steps onto the field and delivers, scoring a touchdown.
The Arkansas offense eats up some clock with a scoring drive of their own, making the game 26-14. The Rebels get within five points on their next drive. This was headlined by the most exciting play of the game, as on a fourth and ten punt situation, Kiffin dialed up the trick plays. Senior linebacker Momo Sanogo received the snap and took off for a 47-yard scamper. The Rebels scored three Ealy runs later, 26-21.
In the biggest spot of the game, the Ole Miss Rebels’ defense, which has been the worst defense in the country to this point, came up big. The offense, on the other hand, would let the team down. On the second play of the potential game-winning drive, Corral threw his fifth interception, the second of which that was returned for a touchdown.
The pick-six was a dagger. The interception thrown by Corral on the following drive was the final nail in the coffin and the salt in the wound. On what was obviously not his day, Corral threw six interceptions and turned the ball over seven times. Barry Odom and the Arkansas defense neutralized another strong offense, winning 33-21.
Ole Miss Rebels’ Five Takeaways
1. Matt Corral Only has Two Modes: World Beater and Self-Imploder.
Quarterback Matt Corral’s inconsistency that fans saw the last few seasons reared its ugly head this past weekend. Just one week after putting up over 40 points on Alabama of all teams, Corral almost single-handedly lost the game for the Ole Miss Rebels.
Corral’s overall line was 20/38 completions, 200 yards, two touchdowns, and six interceptions. If Lane Kiffin continues to “ride his horse” as he said he did in his postgame conference, that horse better get up, get humble, and play better next week.
2. Lane Kiffin Needs to be More Flexible with his Options.
As I mentioned in the first takeaway, Lane Kiffin said after the game that he was simply riding his horse. To me, that means he has chosen his starter going forward, and there isn’t a huge opportunity for the other quarterbacks on the roster.
That shouldn’t be the case. The Ole Miss Rebels have more than one option for the position. John Rhys Plumlee was a dynamic option on the ground last season, and Grant Tisdale has the arm talent to run Kiffin’s offense. I understand the want to stick to your guy, but when they throw six picks in a game, you have to be willing to make a change.
3. Elijah Moore is One of the Best Receivers in CFB.
I don’t think it should be a question anymore. Moore ranks third in the country in receiving yards and third in receptions. Even in a game in which his quarterback has an awful day, Moore came through.
Against a very strong Arkansas defense, Moore caught 11 targets. He averaged over ten yards a catch, for a total of 113 yards and a touchdown. He has elevated his game to a new level this season, and he should be in line for a Fred Biletnikoff Award nomination.
4. The Ole Miss Rebels’ Defense has Some Life!
For once this season, the Ole Miss Rebels’ defense came out to play. They held the Arkansas offense to under 400 total yards and created a couple turnovers.
Ryder Anderson and Jalen Jordan had themselves great games. They both had over 10 tackles. Anderson had a sack and two tackles for losses. If this Ole Miss team wants to win any more games, the defense has to perform like this week in and week out.
5. This Arkansas Team is No Pushover.
Even though the Ole Miss Rebels had every opportunity to win this game and win big, the Razorbacks never seemed to lose confidence in themselves. They played strong zone defense and created their opportunities and took advantage of the Rebels’ mistakes. They should be 3-1 after an awful call last week against Auburn and will be interesting to watch the rest of the season.
This coming weekend, the Ole Miss Rebels will welcome the Auburn Tigers to Oxford, MS. Auburn is coming off of a tough defeat to South Carolina and will be looking to bounce back against the inconsistent Rebels. The game will be on SEC Network at 11 a.m! Hotty Toddy!
Our brand new OTH Football Weekly podcast will be available on Spotify and Anchor!
Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!