Ole Miss was strong defensively against the run throughout the game. The Bulldogs had success a couple of times with the option in the first half, but the Rebels clearly adjusted to that in the second.
Freshman Robert Nkemdiche made an impact on both sides of the ball, filling the void of a big, bruising running back and also performing well on the defensive front.
Bo Wallace paid for a couple of poor decisions in the passing game and took a backward step with three interceptions.
MSU shut down the Ole Miss run game which further complicated the passing game for Wallace.
The Bulldogs were dominated by Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief a year ago and were determined that would not happen again.
Moncrief had only three catches for 24 yards.
Kicker Andrew Ritter banged a short field goal off the left upright in the first quarter.
As it turned out, three points would have made a pretty big difference at the end of regulation.
Keys To Victory
1. Run the football
The Rebels never gained consistency here and finished with just 117 yards on 35 attempts. The best run of the night was Robert Nkemdiche’s 18-yard gain on fourth-and-1 from the Ole Miss 28.
2. Feed Moncrief
MSU did not repeat last year’s mistake of trying to single cover Donte Moncrief, who had seven catches for 173 yards and three touchdowns in the Rebels’ 41-24 win in Oxford. Moncrief was held to three catches for 24 yards and did not impact the game.
3. Wrap up
Tackling was an issue for Ole Miss in its 24-10 loss to Missouri. The Rebels were better against MSU, swarming to make plays in the middle of the field and fighting off blocks on the edge.
Robert Nkemdiche. The freshman defensive lineman had four rush attempts for 25 yards. State figured this out after the second attempt, and Nkemdiche’s last carry came up short and forced the short field goal attempt near the end of the first quarter.
MSU was the more emotionally invested team. One more touchdown would have put immense pressure on the Bulldogs as the game went along.
As the seconds clicked off, one more field goal would have been huge.
The Rebels got neither and when they could have extended play to a second overtime fumbled into the end zone. Hard to win anywhere, particularly in your rival’s stadium, when you’re minus-2 in turnover ratio.