For the first time in three years, the Ole Miss Rebels won the Battle for the Golden Egg.
Ole Miss Game Recap
After an extra bye week for the Rebels, there were some question marks regarding their sharpness coming into the game. The Rebs answered that question immediately by racing out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
After the Bulldogs cut the lead to just one score, the Rebels’ offense would not be denied for long. Wide receiver Braylon Sanders and quarterback Matt Corral linked up for the longest play of the game by either team, an 81-yard touchdown reception.
Mississippi State scored once more before the half and Ole Miss led 21-14 at halftime and were queued to receive the opening kickoff of the third quarter.
The Rebels’ offense drove to the red zone but went four and out for the third time. Both defenses got stops on the following possessions before the Rebels extended their lead to 10 with an early fourth-quarter field goal from Luke Logan.
The next three drives would also result in scores, as the Bulldogs got within a touchdown at the end of the game. The Rebels just ate the rest of the clock with runs and then (after a punt) forced Mississippi State into consecutive Hail Mary tries. It wouldn’t be enough and the Rebels went on to win the Egg Bowl 31-24.
Rebels’ Player of the Game
2 Tackles, 2 PD, 2 Fumble Recoveries
This may not be the sexy pick for the player of the game, but Deane Leonard was arguably the most impactful player for either team. In a relatively clean game by both offenses, Mississippi State’s singular turnover was a difference-maker.
One of his pass breakups was similarly instrumental in the win for the Rebels. When Mississippi State drove and scored a field goal on their next to last offensive possession, Leonard broke up the pass, forcing the three-point play instead of allowing the drive to continue.
Ole Miss Rebels’ Three Takeaways
1. Otis Reese is a Game Changer.
NCAA refused to allow a transfer student to play for the Ole Miss Rebels until this week. Strong safety Otis Reese transferred from Georgia in January, citing a negative atmosphere in September. In his first game with the Rebels, his impact was noticeable.
His stats alone are impressive, as he racked up eight total tackles, four of which were solos. The main difference, however, was just getting to watch him go to work. He looked different from every other player on the Rebels’ defense. Reese was dialed in on every play, engaged with run plays at the line of scrimmage, and well aware of pre-snap movement. It irritates me seeing how good the young man is and remembering how both the SEC and NCAA held him off of the field for seemingly no reason.
2. The Ole Miss Rebels have a Four Headed Monster in the Backfield.
Depth is understated in college football. Teams that have been devastated by Covid-19 are learning that the hard way. With that in mind, teams with depth, that know how to use, it are in a fantastic position. The Rebels are one of those teams with their backfield.
Enough has been said about the speedy, shifty Jerrion Ealy; between-the-tackles runner Snoop Conner; and dual-usage athlete Tylan Knight, but this game saw Lane Kiffin bring out yet another weapon. Freshman Henry Parrish Jr. has been getting used sparingly throughout the year, but he got some noticeable touches against the Bulldogs. His speed and toughness were impressive as he racked up 36 yards on eight carries.
3. Yes, I’m Really Complaining About SEC Officiating… Again.
I always say that I hate doing this… right before doing this…but come on! This is one of the biggest rivalry games in the country and should be decided by the players on the field, and not by the officiating crew.
Both teams piled up their fair share of yellow flags, but there were some truly mind-boggling calls/no calls. The most blatant was a facemask grab by MS State defenders on Snoop Conner. In BOTH replays AND real-time, a pair of fingers were obviously seen yanking Conner’s head towards the turf. A flag was thrown and subsequently picked up with no foul called.
On the other side of the ball for the Rebels, the infamous targeting reviews strike yet again. After throwing a penalty flag that was picked up for what appeared to be just a hard hit by senior defensive back Jon Haynes, the officials were buzzed from upstairs to take another look. In just the first quarter, the Rebels were down an extremely important defensive back for nothing of note. The officiating across college football has been relatively bad, but there have been way too many in the SEC and not only in this game.
At the date and time of writing this, the dates for those two games have not been set. The Rebels have a good chance at beating LSU but will have a much more difficult time with No. 5 Texas A&M. Nonetheless, now is time to celebrate a long-awaited Egg Bowl win. Hotty Toddy!
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