The 2021 Outback Bowl was a thriller. The 4-5 Ole Miss Rebels came in a big underdog to the 6-1 Indiana Hoosiers. Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss football team were led by their high powered offense and got some timely play from their defense on route to a 26-20 win.
2021 Outback Bowl Game Recap
The Ole Miss Rebels were given the ball first and got off to a blazing start on offense. Quarterback Matt Corral strung together a pair of long completions to put the Rebs in the red zone, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the Ole Miss offense back enough to hold them out of the end zone early.
Both squad’s defenses held up well overall. The Rebel defense kept Indiana from scoring a touchdown through the first three quarters, forcing a pair of turnovers in the process. The Hoosiers, impressive in their own right, kept the Ole Miss offense from scoring a touchdown until the second quarter.
Ole Miss football took a 13-3 lead into halftime. Indiana cut the lead to just a score with their first drive of the second half, but that wouldn’t last long. Snoop Conner took a long run to the Indiana four-yard line before punching it in himself the play after.
Indiana football went on to score 14 unanswered on the back of their strong run game. Stevie Scott III led the charge and ended the game with 99 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Those two scores tied the game with just under six minutes remaining.
The Rebel offense made quick work of regaining the lead, scoring a TD in under two minutes. Indiana had the time to get into the end zone, but a clutch sack by Cedric Johnson forced a third and long in Ole Miss territory. Jack Tuttle couldn’t get it done under pressure and turned the ball over on downs, giving Ole Miss the ball and the game.
2021 Outback Bowl MVP
QB Matt Corral
30/44, 342 yards, 2/0 TD/INT
Corral put together a great performance in the Rebels’ 2021 Outback Bowl win. He was accurate, decisive, and protected the ball well. In times when the pocket broke down, Corral was able to evade pressure and was only sacked twice.
The biggest part of Corral winning the MVP from this game was his performance in the clutch. On the last scoring drive Corral was 4/4 for 58 yards and the game winning touchdown.
Three 2021 Outback Bowl Takeaways
1. Indiana Football isn’t going anywhere.
Head coach Tom Allen did an incredible job putting this Indiana football team together, and he did so in a way that should have the program contending for years to come.
Firstly, the defense played not just an incredible game, but an incredible season under Kane Wommack, who will be heading to South Alabama as head coach. The most the Indiana defense surrendered was 42 to Ohio State… the team that just dropped 49 on Clemson. In this game alone, Indiana’s defense held a team that scored 40 points per game to just 26.
On the other side of the ball, Indiana should have redshirt sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr. returning next season, and he is something to watch. The athletic lefty is a threat both in the air and on the ground. This season, he made an obvious effort to work out of the pocket, and his passing numbers were better for it.
2. The Ole Miss Football Program is Seriously on the Rise.
Lane Kiffin and this Ole Miss program similarly aren’t going anywhere any time soon. However, Kiffin has a bit more work to do before the Rebels can hit the national stage like Indiana has.
This year was such a huge improvement for Ole Miss. Last season, the offense was inept under Rich Rodriguez’s system, apart from when it was buoyed by John Rhys Plumlee and Jerrion Ealy. This season, it looked like the Rebels can put up a ton of points on anybody, and for the most part, they did just that.
That type of quick turnaround and a roster that has completely bought into the brand of their head coach is destined to bring in a slew of highly rated recruits and transfer students.
3. The 2021 Outback Bowl Proved the Importance of Special Teams Play.
If there is any game to show off how important special teams are, this is it. Both punters had big days, and one kicker had a much better day than the other. Those kicking woes made a major difference in the final score and overall fan anxiety throughout the game.
Firstly, we have to give some love to the punters. Both Indiana’s Haydon Whitehead and Ole Miss’s Mac Brown had great days. Both pinned opposing offenses inside their own 20-yard lines twice on just three kicks. Whitehead had the more impressive kick though, booting one 64 yards down the field.
There was a bit more of a difference between the kickers, however. Charles Campbell was automatic, hitting a pair of field goals from 50 plus and all of his extra-point attempts. Ole Miss’s Luke Logan struggled; he missed two of his four field-goal tries and a crucial extra-point attempt late in the game. If not for those misses, Ole Miss would have led by at least 10 late instead of just one score.
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