5 biggest takeaways: Rebels performance almost as good as GameDay in Grove
The Ole Miss Rebels relied on a fourth quarter surge on both sides of the ball to stun the Alabama Crimson Tide 23-17 in Oxford on Saturday. The win was just a part of a chaotic day in Oxford, as Ole Miss hosted more than 100,000 people in the Grove for College GameDay’s visit, then stormed the field after the win in what turned out to be one of the wildest celebrations in some time.
Here are five takeaways from the Rebels’ victory over Alabama, and the rest of a crazy day in Oxford:
- This won’t be College GameDay’s last visit to the Grove. What a blast GameDay was this morning in its first ever visit to the Grove. Every host wore a bow tie, as is the expectation at a Grove tailgate, and Lee Corso arrived in a seersucker suit one might expect to find on Colonel Sanders. There were boat shoes and red solo cups everywhere you turned, and the popular pregame show managed to perfectly capture the simultaneous classiness and rowdiness of the Grove perfectly. It appeared the Ole Miss faithful had a blast taking in the show, and the nation certainly enjoyed what they saw on their televisions Saturday morning. As long as Ole Miss maintains its standing as a legitimate contender in the SEC under Hugh Freeze, GameDay will jump at the opportunity to come back and part some more in Oxford.
- Bo Wallace had the best game of his career in the biggest game of his career. It wasn’t the numbers Wallace posted against Alabama that were so impressive, but rather the numbers he avoided. Wallace completed 18 of 31 passes for 251 yards, normally an above-average day for most quarterbacks, especially against Alabama’s defense. However it was his three touchdowns and zero interceptions that made Saturday’s contest Wallace’s best game of his career. The normally turnover-plagued quarterback didn’t turn the ball over once all game, making smart decisions with every snap. He allowed his playmakers to make plays, and kept the Alabama defense guessing by spreading the ball around to eight different wideouts on the afternoon. A few classic Wallace mistakes would have sank the Rebels, but his error-free day carried them to their biggest victory in more than a decade.
- The Ole Miss run game is still putrid. Ole Miss did all it could to establish the run in this game, rushing 32 times for a mere 72 yards on the day. Whether it’s the offensive line or the stable of tailbacks, the Rebels rushing attack has been non-existent all season, making Wallace’s performance against Alabama look that much more impressive. Sooner or later teams will discover Ole Miss has no ability to run the ball, and once a talented SEC defense is able to exploit a one-dimensional offense it will be tough sledding for the Rebels. It’s not fun to be this critical following a victory, but this is not nit-picking at some minute detail of the game. This is a glaring issue for Ole Miss, and has been all season. Hugh Freeze is a more-than-capable offensive mind, and he’ll need to figure out a solution fast as the Rebels turn the page to Texas A&M next week.
- The Ole Miss defense had a statement performance against Alabama. All-American safety Cody Prewitt said last Sunday he didn’t think Alabama was as good as last year. He then helped the Ole Miss defense back up those statements, limiting the Tide to just 17 points and fewer than 400 yards of offense. The Alabama offense was not shut down completely, but it looked rather pedestrian after ripping through a tough Florida defense two weeks ago. The difference had nothing to do with Alabama’s offense, but rather how dominant the “Landshark defense” has been all year. Ole Miss finally took on a reputable offense Saturday against Alabama, and the defense proved it was more than just the beneficiary of four weak opponents to begin the year. Cornerback Senquez Golson made a tremendous interception to seal a win, and the front seven was more physical than the Alabama offensive line for most snaps in the contest. Texas A&M has a pretty terrific offense, but it ought to be a little unsettled as it prepares to face the Rebels vaunted defense next week in a huge West division showdown.
- The Rebels’ victory wasn’t nearly as impressive as the celebration that followed. If you couldn’t tell from this morning’s edition of GameDay, the Ole Miss fanbase knows how to party. It showed the nation how it’s done before the Ole Miss victory over Alabama, then kicked it into high gear after the win with a celebration for the ages. Fans stormed the field, and were actually aided from the stands to the field by security guards who one would think were supposed to keep fans off the field. Players took selfies with complete, goalposts were ripped from the ground, fans made out in the middle of a crowd of thousands, pop stars crowded surfed while chugging beer, and that’s just a brief rundown of some of the many events that took place. One set of goalposts wound up in an Oxford apartment. No idea how, but that’s Ole Miss for you I suppose. What a tailgate, what a game and what a celebration that followed. Ole Miss didn’t just win Saturday’s game; it won Saturday.