Coming to you from a suburban Houston freeway with notes and observations from the Rebels’ 35-20 win over Texas A&M …
And it wasn’t that close.
The Rebels were clearly content to keep the ball in front of them at the end of the game. A&M had opportunities to get a few more yards and points because the Ole Miss offense twice followed A&M scores with three-and-outs.
That’s nit-picking though.
Coaching and play-calling change when you’re up 35-7. It’s not about trying to dominate the other guy. It’s more about caution and make sure you get to the end of the game without disaster.
A&M clearly has been less prolific outside the SEC than inside. The Aggies captured the nation’s attention with their massive effort against South Carolina on opening night, but when the dust settles a lot of people will have had a massive effort against the Gamecocks.
This is still an A&M offense with a lot of talent, and this game was not a run-away until Bo Wallace passed 33 yards to Quincy Adeboyejo in the final seconds of the third quarter.
The Rebels had it won at that point. Keith Lewis’ fumble return for a touchdown really sewed things up, and sent Ole Miss into more of a prevent mode on defense which allowed Kenny Hill to dink the ball down the field.
Hill piled up some numbers that will make people reading the box score think the game was a little closer than it actually was, but people who watched on ESPN won’t be fooled.
The new rankings will come out while I’m in the air later today. The vibe from Twitter seems to be that MSU will be No. 1. Ole Miss could be No. 2. We’re talking about the AP Top 25. There is no Twitter vibe regarding the coaches poll, and they may be less likely to drop a No. 1 that hasn’t lost, and Florida State hasn’t.
The writers will consider the body of work more. State has been impressive. Part of the argument for the Bulldogs is that they’ve beaten three straight top 10 teams. Well, one of those was LSU and the Tigers haven’t looked top 10 for a while. Ole Miss won’t get credit for beating a second top 10 team because A&M dropped to No. 14 after getting thrashed in Starkville.
There was euphoria for Ole Miss fans after the Rebels beat Alabama last week. The Crimson Tide was ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll then but looked quite vulnerable at Arkansas in a 14-13 win.
The bottom line everybody in the West is going to play everybody else, and the West is going to flesh out.
Ole Miss has now beaten the two teams that a month ago were considered the top teams in the division and has Auburn and MSU both at home.
That’s good news for the upcoming schedule.
That’s also getting ahead of things. For those games to be as big as they can be Ole Miss needs to continue to be as emotionally prepared as it was at A&M.
There was every reason for Ole Miss to have a letdown. The Rebels were following a big win against Alabama with a difficult SEC venue before a record crowd.
A&M receivers had been so bad with drops against MSU that you just didn’t expect that to happen again. It didn’t, but the Aggies couldn’t consistently drive the ball against the Ole Miss defense.
Pressure against Hill was sporadic. When it wasn’t there he was accurate, and at times he scrambled out of pressure. The bottom line is the Ole Miss defense didn’t give up big plays, and when a team throws it as much as Hill did the secondary is bound to pick one off. That’s what Senquez Golson did late in the game basically thwarting any idea of a miracle comeback.
The Ole Miss offense ran the ball enough to open up some things. There’s improvement there, but the Rebels still weren’t able to drive it on the Aggies when they could have run out the clock.
This run game is better but needs to make more strides.
One of the best things about the Ole Miss offense the last two weeks has been the turnover-free play of Wallace under center. It’s been said often that Ole Miss will go as far as Wallace takes it. When he’s protecting the ball and making big timely plays as he’s done the last two weeks that could be pretty far.
Especially with the defense he has to back him up.
This is a really good Ole Miss defense, and the last two games have shown the Rebels can be consistent against good teams.
After Memphis the argument was, ‘Who have you played?’
Well it’s getting into that time of the season where the SEC schedule is taking care of that question.