Ole Miss (8-2, 4-2 SEC) and Alabama (8-2, 5-2 SEC) faced off in a competitive fight for an SEC win. Despite the cold weather in Oxford, the Rebels came out hot and ready to play against the Crimson Tide.
During the first quarter, Ole Miss put a significant amount of pressure on Alabama’s offense by consistently stopping their running game, forcing them to kick a field goal on a fourth down. Heisman-winning Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was sacked by Ole Miss defensive tackle J.J. Pegues, which helped set the tone early for the Rebels.
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin had some high praise for Young after the game.
“(Bryce Young) won the Hiesman trophy,” Kiffin said in his post-game press conference. “(Young) is an unbelievable player and put the team on his back again, like he does.”
Ole Miss receiver Jordan Watkins left the game injured after he was stepped on by Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold after a pass fell incomplete from quarterback Jaxson Dart and did not return for the remainder of the game. Hopefully Watkins, who is a key receiver for the Ole Miss offense, will be back and fully healed when the Rebels travel to Fayetteville to face Arkansas next Saturday.
Jermaine Burton, a transfer from the University of Georgia, seems to be Young’s right-hand receiver, along with Ja’Corey Brooks, who combined had a total of 111 yards and two touchdowns during Saturday’s game.
The first touchdown scored by Ole Miss was a unique one that shocked the Alabama defense, along with the fans watching. Kiffin called a wildcat play and the ball was snapped directly to running back Quinshon Judkins, who ran straight into the end zone for a touchdown. This was one of two wildcat plays that the Ole Miss offense ran, both ending in touchdowns.
Judkins ended the day with 25 carries, 135 yards and two touchdowns. With his two touchdowns, Judkins brought his season rushing touchdown total to 15, which set an Ole Miss record for most rushing touchdowns in a single season. The previous record holder was Deuce Mcallister with 14.
Receiver Malik Heath had an especially strong game with 123 yards receiving.
“Malik really dominated that matchup the entire day,” Kiffin said about Heath’s performance after the game. “I thought our defense did a really good job early and late, in the middle not as great, but plenty good enough to win.”
Although Jonathan Mingo was the only receiver to score a touchdown, Heath said after the game, “In my opinion we have the best receiving group in the country. We block well and we catch the ball.”
This game was violent and aggressive. Running back Zach Evans was hurt during the second quarter when Alabama forced a fumble. Although fans were mad and agreed that there should have been a targeting call, there was not. Evans left with a concussion and did not return for the remainder of the game. Not only was Evans, a key rusher for Ole Miss’ offense, out with an injury, but Dart was also the victim of a violent face mask call that left him shaken up but ultimately unscathed.
Ole Miss failed to score any points during the fourth quarter. Down 30-24 on their final drive of the game, the Rebels marched down the field with ease thanks to a couple of big gains on the ground by Judkins. Then the drive got a bit stagnant and the Rebels were facing a fourth-and-16. Dart had the chance to win the game with one play, threw the ball over the middle of the field into the end zone and it was broken up by Alabama defenders.
“We didn’t make the plays at the end,” Kiffin said after the game. “We can always make better plays and call better plays.”
Kiffin expressed frustration and disappointment with his team, as they all knew that they could have, without a doubt, won against Alabama. In the end, Ole Miss is a talented team but the outcome did not reflect said talent.
Ole Miss is set to travel to face the Arkansas Razorbacks (5-5, 2-4 SEC) on Saturday Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m. CST on SEC Network.