Even with an explosive second half of offense and a record-breaking performance from quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, the Ole Miss football team had very few answers for the Joe Burrow-led LSU Tigers.
Plumlee, a true freshman, set the Ole Miss quarterback single-game rushing record with 212 yards and four touchdowns, but LSU’s firepower prevailed in a 58-37 victory over the Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday.
Plumlee is the first quarterback to run for over 200 yards against LSU since Cam Newton in 2010.
The Rebels drop to 4-7 overall and 2-5 in SEC play with doubtful postseason hopes, but the comeback attempt sparked in the second half against the top-ranked Tigers was a sign of improvement for the Ole Miss offense.
“The guys played hard. I do think that we will be sick watching the film on a few drives,” offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez said. “The effort was good, but the execution wasn’t sometimes what we wanted it to be.”
Offensively, the Rebels had explosive plays throughout the night, more notably in the second half, with a pair of two-play drives capped off by Plumlee with runs from 46 and 60 yards out. He even used one play to find the end zone for a 35-yard score early in the fourth quarter. In the end, it wasn’t enough to outrun the Tigers down the stretch.
The offense showed signs of life that could capture some optimism, but it’s still unclear if the run-heavy scheme with Plumlee as the focal point is sustainable throughout a full season. Plumlee led the team in rushing attempts against with 21 while Jerrion Ealy made the most of his 13 rushes with 143 yards. Still the Rebels couldn’t find production through the air outside of Elijah Moore, who had nine catches for 143 yards.
“(It’s a) very disappointing loss, but you have to give LSU credit. They are a very, very good team,” head coach Matt Luke said. “We struggled to get off the field. In the first half, we didn’t play very good football. I thought in the second half, when we got the run game going, we competed. We had a chance late, but you can’t dig yourself a hole against that kind of football team.”
LSU quarterback Burrow competed 32 of his 42 pass attempts for 489 yards, and five touchdowns with 319 of those yards came in the first half alone. Despite Ole Miss being in position numerous times to make a play on Burrow, the Tigers had their final four drives of the first half result in points, going into the locker room with a 31-7 lead and 400 yards of total offense.
“We had a lot of guys clean on him, but he’s done that other times,” defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre said. “I was hoping that we could get him down and force him to do some different things.”
Ja’Marr Chase had eight catches for 227 yards and three touchdowns for the Tigers, followed by Justin Jefferson who had nine catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns. However, Burrow threw a season-high two interceptions, both coming in the second half from Keidron Smith and Deantre Prince keeping Ole Miss in the game late.
Matt Corral also saw significant action, completing six of 11 passes for 89 yards and a 55-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Moore late in the game.
Ole Miss will have next week off before traveling to Starkville on Thanksgiving Day for the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State.