Ole Miss Rebels-Auburn Tigers Postgame: Rebels Downed by “Touchback” in Early Thriller

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Somehow, the Ole Miss Rebels always seem to find a way to lose games and the Auburn Tigers find a way to get help towards a win. On this brisk and misty Saturday morning in Oxford, Auburn took down the Rebels 35-28, but not without some controversy…

Game Recap

For Ole Miss, the game looked like it could be a repeat performance of the game against Arkansas. Both teams started the game with a three and out, but after that, the action really started. The Rebels drove to the red zone, where quarterback Matt Corral threw an interception in the back of the endzone.

Both teams would respond well to their early struggles, though. Following the pick, Auburn ate up a ton of clock on a 95-yard scoring drive led by running backs Tank Bigsby and Shaun Shivers.

The Rebels’ third drive of the game saw backup quarterback John Rhys Plumlee get involved in the offense, which he would continue to do for the rest of the game. Plumlee kept the drive alive with a 37 yard rush on a 3rd & 4 close to midfield. Corral then capped the drive with a six yard strike to Elijah Moore in the endzone.

Auburn would retake the lead on their next drive with the headlining play showcasing just how talented Seth Williams actually is. He collected a 21-yard reception in traffic to put the Tigers on the Ole Miss 21 yard line. Auburn quarterback Bo Nix took it in himself just four plays later.

Before the end of the half, the Rebels would tie the game after another long drive. This drive saw more of Corral as he spread the ball around to four different targets on the drive. Not to be outdone by Nix, Corral kept the ball for the score, making the game tied at 14 going into halftime.

Auburn thought they got off to a blazing second-half start. Bigsby returned the kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown, but there was a holding flag thrown. The Tigers drove to the 50-yard line before having to punt; the punter, however, missed the snap and the Rebels took control of the ball at Auburn’s 25-yard line.

The Ole Miss Rebels didn’t take advantage of their huge opportunity. They tried to run the ball three straight times before attempting a creative, albeit unsuccessful play. The field goal holder faked the placement and flipped the ball over his shoulder to Luke Logan who ran the ball to the right side of the line… where he lost four yards and ended the drive. If anything, Ole Miss football has been fun.

The Rebels’ defense came up big and forced another Auburn three and out. Then, in just 30 seconds, the Rebels took the lead again. Snoop Conner started the drive with a 19-yard run, and Corral linked up with tight end Kenny Yeboah for a 60-yard play. Corral finished off the drive again, picking up a 10-yard touchdown run.

Auburn scored again, tying the game on their next drive. The Auburn offense continued to get lucky. In this case, Nix committed the cardinal sin of the quarterback position: he threw a deep ball across his body, while on the move, and into triple coverage. However, he got bailed out by Seth Williams, who made an outstanding catch at Ole Miss’ one-yard line.

After a quick punt by the Rebels, Auburn took the ball and the lead back. Tank Bigsby again came up big again for the Tigers, scoring from the Ole Miss 18. However, the drive came up short overall as Auburn suffered another missed snap, causing a failed extra point conversion.

On another run-heavy drive, Corral hit wide receiver Jonathan Mingo in the red zone to get the Rebels on the five-yard line. Jerrion Ealy punched it in for the score. The Ole Miss Rebels came back to take a one-point lead, 28-27.

Here is where the help for Auburn comes in. On the ensuing kickoff, Shivers goes to play the ball, seemingly lets it roll past him into the endzone for a touchback–even though Ole Miss players dash into the endzone and pounce on the ball. There is no stoppage for a review, even though after a second look, the ball clearly touched Shivers’ hand and is then a live ball. A missed call both on the field and in the replay booth (the broadcast announced that the replay booth looked at the play and didn’t see anything *audible eye roll*) took away a two-possession lead for the Rebels.

Ole Miss ends up giving Auburn the ball back with 2:33 remaining on the clock. A pair of huge passing plays, one to Anthony Schwartz to set up the 58-yard score to Williams, gave the lead back to the Tigers with just over one minute remaining.

The Rebels had two timeouts to work with during the final drive, but neglected to use them or the clock to their advantage. With awful clock management, the game came down to two plays. Yeboah dropped a dart thrown by Corral on a perfect route with eight seconds remaining. Then, on the final play, Auburn had pressure and perfect man coverage. Corral was flushed out, overran the line of scrimmage, and threw the ball anyway. The pass was picked and a flag was thrown. Game over, in disappointing fashion.

Ole Miss game recap

Photo credit: Jim Rassol/South Florida Sun-Sentinel-Via AP

Ole Miss Rebels’ Five Takeaways

1. Lane Kiffin/Jeff Lebby Need to Keep Plumlee in the Offense.

John Rhys Plumlee was the most dynamic runner in the SEC last season. However, with Jeff Lebby’s offense, he hasn’t been utilized much. Against Auburn, he made an impact.

Plumlee proved that he can be reliably used as a change of pace to confuse opposing defenses. While he wasn’t used in the passing game, Plumlee ran for six yards a carry and set up some long runs.

2. The Ole Miss Defensive Unit is Coming Together.

Even though they weren’t able to produce any turnovers, the Ole Miss Rebels’ defense is improving. They are playing their scheme more effectively, getting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and limiting opposing offenses. After allowing a TON of yards against every other team they’ve played this season, Ole Miss only allowed a total of 462 yards against Auburn.

3. Is this the True Matt Corral?

Matt Corral did not play poorly by any means. He only threw one important pick (the second was in real garbage time); he was able to move well outside of the pocket; and, he was efficient on third and fourth down. However, Corral didn’t have the gaudy numbers from the first few weeks. He only completed 60% of his passes for 161 yards. Corral is still inconsistent, even when he plays well.

4. The Lack of Penalties was Promising.

One of the more promising things to see in this game was the lack of flags against the Rebels. They are credited with just a single penalty: a paltry five yards on an illegal shift in the third quarter. Penalties are drive and momentum killers, especially on defense, so it was good to see some discipline out of the Rebs.

5. “@SEC your officiating is absolutely atrocious”- @Lane_Kiffin

As retweeted by the Lane Train himself. Enough said.

Looking Forward

This coming week, Ole Miss travels to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt. The Commodores have struggled this season on the field and off of it. Their game against Mizzou this past weekend was postponed due to a string of positive COVID-19 cases. The Rebels have every opportunity to go into Nashville and come away with a win. Hotty Toddy!

Thanks for reading my Ole Miss game recap! Follow me on Twitter @kinggeorge94 for more Ole Miss Rebels Football news and notes and follow @OT_Heroics for all things sports!

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Aspiring sports journalist from down South. Covering the Ole Miss Rebels and the NFL! Hotty Toddy!