This game was a blast to watch, but mostly because there was little to no defense being played by either team. It took eight total drives for either team to force a punt, and in those eight drives, six of them were for touchdowns.
Both teams got their respective forms of offense rolling early. The Gamecocks have been inventive this year by utilizing a retro offense, and it’s worked for the most part. Head coach Will Muschamp has his squad running a classic, heavy, smashmouth rushing attack– I-formation, big fullback, and all.
The Rebels had no real answer for Kevin Harris and Deshaun Fenwick, SC’s pair of stellar running backs. Harris was handed the rock 25 times, and he made the most of those touches, running for 243 yards and FIVE touchdowns.
On the other sideline, Ole Miss Rebels’ head coach Lane Kiffin allowed quarterback Matt Corral to command a truly dangerous passing game. For the second straight game, Corral finished with 400+ yards, four or more touchdowns, and a quarterback rating above 97.
As per the usual, Corral’s favorite target of the night was star wide receiver, Elijah Moore. The diminutive wideout has been incredible all season and the game against South Carolina was no different. He caught 13 passes for another 225 yards and a pair of scores.
A major highlight was a massive play by Moore and Corral on the field… and Kiffin on the sideline. Only a video can do it justice:
Ole Miss simply never took their foot off of the gas late in the fourth quarter. The Rebs come away with a huge home victory 59-42.
Rebels’ Player of the Game
QB Matt Corral
28/32, 513 yards, 4 TD, 97.6 QBR
This was really just a two-horse race. On one hand, we have Elijah Moore, one of the most dynamic receivers in the country who has to be on the shortlist for the Biletnikoff. On the other hand, we have Corral, the leader of the Rebels, who took a massive step forward after a poor season last year.
Frankly, Corral has been Ole Miss’ best player this year, and this game just cemented that. The California native ranks fifth in the country in both completion percentage and yards, is tied for fourth in touchdowns, and is ninth in total QBR.
Corral has already broken a Manning held record this season and almost did it again against South Carolina. Against Vanderbilt, Corral opened the game with 19 complete passes in a row, breaking Eli Manning‘s previous record of 18. Against South Carolina, Corral created 533 total yards, just seven short of legend Archie Manning’s school record of 540.
Ole Miss Rebels’ Three Takeaways
1. Elijah Moore Might be the Best Receiver in CFB.
It may seem like I’m giving Matt Corral and Elijah Moore too much credit for the Ole Miss Rebels’ success, but these two have been the best players on the team by a large margin. Moore has shown just how good he can be with the ball in his hands this season.
Moore currently leads the entire country in receptions and receiving yards, with 74 and 1,054 respectively. He’s been a weapon from any part of the field, as well. His longest reception was his 91 yard TD catch against SC, and he routinely creates first downs on third and fourth. Moore has led the Ole Miss Rebels in receiving yards four games out of seven this year… and he had 225 or more in three of them. Absolutely insane production.
2. This Ole Miss Defense is BAD.
I feel like I say this every week, but I feel like I HAVE to say it every week. Watching the Ole Miss Rebels play defense is torture sometimes (most of the time). South Carolina certainly isn’t known for its offensive prowess, yet they racked up the yards and points against the Rebs.
SC quarterback Collin Hill isn’t great, but he had a solid enough game. He threw for 230 yards, a TD, and a pick. But the Gamecocks performed much better on the ground. Overall, they picked up 318 yards on the ground, and they did it with a paltry 39 rushing attempts. The Rebels have three tough matchups left, and the defense is going to need to seriously step it up if they want to earn another win.
3. Lane Kiffin is doing Everything Backwards, and its Working.
Kiffin is constantly called one of the more analytically driven coaches in college football, but if you watch the team play, they aren’t successful because of the analytics. The Ole Miss Rebels’ offense is run through the spreadsheet, but Kiffin, Jeff Lebby, and Corral have the last say on what is run. The coaching staff has drawn up an offense that not only breaks convention but also takes advantage of the team’s skill set.
For example, one of the more interesting facets of the Rebs’ offense is the propensity to throw the ball on third and short-yardage situations. More often than not, defenses will dial-up man coverage and pressure to the middle in the hopes of stopping the run. It may seem like common sense to throw the ball then, but with just a few yards to go, most teams see a pass as a lower percentage play.
That isn’t the case for the Rebels in most instances, however. The Rebels have great running backs on the roster, but even better receiving options, like Moore and tight end Kenny Yeboah. Mix that recipe for success and a tendency to go for it on fourth down while beyond the opposition’s 40-yard line, and you have an offense that is incredibly difficult to predict, let alone defend.
The Ole Miss Rebels travel to College Station to take on No. 5 Texas A&M on 11/21. This will be another major challenge for the Rebels. The Aggies have had a hard time neutralizing other strong offenses in the SEC, but they have done enough to be 5-1 going into this week.
Texas A&M may be a touch off of their rhythm this week, as they had an unexpected bye week. Their game this past weekend against Tennessee was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. They will lean on senior quarterback Kellen Mond to lead the offense, and they expect to get more strong production from running back Isaiah Spiller.
The Rebels will always get their points. However, as is the case with any of their games, success will come down to how many stops their defense can get. There are no odds set yet, but ESPN’s FPI gives A&M an 84% chance to win. I set that percentage much closer to 50/50 based solely on Ole Miss’s offensive punch. We’ll just have to wait and see; Hotty Toddy!
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