The extra preparation time for Georgia Tech’s option – and, no doubt, Dave Wommack’s knowledge of it as a former Tech assistant – was clearly beneficial.
Ole Miss players were in position and were sure tacklers on defense.
Offensively, they revived a sagging running game which opened up other things – like Donte Moncrief’s big day in what may prove to be his last college game. Moncrief had six catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.
The Rebels were inexplicably bad in the kicking game and left points on the table with a blocked PAT, a blocked field goal and a missed 29-yard field goal attempt.
Keys to Victory
(Reviewing the scouting report from our GameDay preview)
1. Slow the option
The Rebels not only slowed the option they dominated it. Georgia Tech rushed for 151 yards, 60 yards below its average of 311.7. It was the second-lowest out-put this season for Tech’s rushing game.
The Yellow Jackets ran effectively on their opening drive, but the Rebels got stronger against the option as the game progressed, particularly after defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche served his one-quarter suspension and entered the game.
2. Be turnover-free
Not quite, but almost.
The Rebels’ lone turnover was Bo Wallace’s fourth-quarter interception which Tech immediately capitalized upon with a 72-yard touchdown pass. That added drama to the game late.
Otherwise, the Rebels fumbled three times but lost none and finished plus-1 in turnover margin.
3. Run the football
Ole Miss ran the ball better than it has against a BCS-level opponent since putting up 272 rushing yards against Texas in mid-September, finishing with 221 yards against Tech.
It was a complete turnaround for a team that had not averaged more than 4 yards a carry against BCS opposition since getting 176 yards on 43 carries (4.1 per rush) against LSU on Oct. 19.
Quarterback Bo Wallace led the way with a career-high 86 yards and two scores on 13 carries, but the Rebels were also productive at tailback with sophomores I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton combining for 111 yards on 29 carries.
QB Bo Wallace. Tech converted the interception in a touchdown, but in addition to his rushing numbers Wallace finished 22-for-32 passing for 256 yards and a 28-yard touchdown to Moncrief.
It was big for Wallace to rebound after his four-turnover outing against rival Mississippi State, and it’s important for Hugh Freeze to have a bowl win to take with him on the recruiting road.
A loss would have left the Rebels 7-6 on the season, matching their 2012 record. Now Freeze has statistical proof of progress in his discussion of the Rebels’ journey.