Another season is in the books for Ole Miss football, albeit not the way the Rebels would have wanted it to end.
The Rebels dropped five out of their last six games on the year, culminating with an 8-5 record for the once No. 7 team in the country. Even with Lane Kiffin’s contract situation handled for him to stay in Oxford, it still seemed as if the Rebels weren’t able to focus on their opposition.
To preface this matchup, both teams honored the late Mike Leach, head coach at Mississippi State the past three seasons and formerly the head coach of the Red Raiders from 2000-2009.
The Rebels donned helmet stickers that spelled out “Mike” with a cowbell that included a pirate sticker replacing the “I”, and the Red Raiders responded with a pirate helmet sticker of their own.
Additionally, the Red Raider offense lined up in Leach’s patented Air Raid formation.
As for the game itself, it looked very similar to the last quarter of the Rebels’ season.
The Red Raiders brought immense pressure to quarterback Jaxson Dart and prevented the Rebels’ offensive line from creating any push up front.
Tech intercepted Dart three times and twice in the first half, while the Rebels’ powerful ground game struggled to generate much in the first half before returning to their normal in the second half. In fact, the Rebels had 588 yards of total offense at the final whistle, out gaining Tech by 74 yards.
Defensively, the Rebels weren’t all that bad in the first half.
Taking into consideration that for a large portion of the first half, Texas Tech’s average starting field position was at midfield intoOle Miss territory.
One play in particular that stood out to me was soon-to-be transfer portal player Miles Battle, a receiver turned defensive back, hustled down Red Raider running back Cameron Valdez to knock the ball out the back of the endzone just before Valdez scored.
Not one player opted out of the game however “meaningless” some people would deem it to be, something that is very hard to do when there are multiple NFL-caliber talents on a team.
While the loss, and pretty much the entire back end of the season, leaves much to be desired for Ole Miss, it is important to remember many predicted the Rebels to be 6-6 and fighting just to get in a bowl this year.
Yes, there was a bit of a fall-off after the Alabama game in terms of quality in whatever aspect one would look at, this team proved many people wrong. And with Dart and Quinshon Judkins returning for sure next year along with incoming players from high school and the portal, Kiffin will have a hell of a squad in 2023.