The Ole Miss football program won its first bowl title since the 2016 Sugar Bowl with a 26-20 victory over No. 11 Indiana at the 2021 Outback Bowl on Saturday.
“I think it’s exciting for recruits (and) for fans especially,” head coach Lane Kiffin said. “Our fans have been through some rough years. We won the Egg Bowl and a bowl game, and that’s about as good as it gets in year one. Now, we’ve got to get better.”
After an aggressive comeback effort from the Hoosiers in the second half, the game-winning drive from the Ole Miss offense included a 44-yard catch by sophomore John Rhys Plumlee that set up a touchdown for wide receiver Dontario Drummond with four minutes left on the clock.
“For (Plumlee) to play only one week at receiver… (he is) a remarkable kid to come in and do that,” Kiffin said. “You just can’t do that. This isn’t Pop Warner. We’re in major college football playing a top-10 team, and (playing) receiver for one week and (making) plays is special.”
The Ole Miss defense sealed the win with tackles from junior Keidron Smith and freshman Cedric Johnson. At Ole Miss’s 41-yard line, Indiana’s quarterback Jack Tuttle threw an incomplete pass to secure the Rebel win.
“We talked about all week we’re going to need that,” Kiffin said. “We’re not going to go score 60 points. We just can’t do that without all those weapons versus a team that checks people down. We knew it was going to be a struggle, and it was great to see the defense play as they did.”
With four important offensive players missing, the Rebels totaled 493 yards of total offense. Quarterback Matt Corral completed 30 out of 44 passes for 342 yards and two touchdown passes, becoming the fifth player in school history to hit the 3,000-yard mark. Corral also completed 29 touchdown passes in a single season, tying alum Eli Manning for third most in UM football history.
In addition to key tackles in the final minutes of the game, the Rebel defense held the Hoosiers to just 369 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Jaquez Jones led the defense with 13 tackles, and juniors Otis Reese and A.J. Finley followed behind with nine tackles each.
Ending the season with a 5-5 record, an Egg Bowl win and an Outback Bowl trophy, the Ole Miss football program will gear up for another year with Lane Kiffin as its head coach.