Ole Miss football: Top 10 moments that defined a decade of Rebels football
Well, it was never boring.
On the field, off the field, Ole Miss certainly had an entertaining decade.
It mixed extreme highs and lows, upsets and unthinkable actions into a long, winding journey better fit for off-roading than interstate cruising.
But, again, the best college road trips always involve at least a little shenanigans.
Here, then, are 10 moments that defined a decade of Ole Miss football.
10. Back-to-back wins over Nick Saban
Who does that?
Ole Miss did what only 1 other team in the country did this decade: Beat Alabama in consecutive seasons. (LSU did it in 2010, 2011).
The Rebels shocked Alabama in 2014 and 2015 — the peak of the Hugh Freeze era.
The 2nd win was as crazy as the 1st was spectacular.
In 2014, Bo Wallace threw 3 TD passes as No. 11 Ole Miss knocked off No. 3 Alabama. In 2015, Chad Kelly threw for 341 yards and 3 TDs — including one of the most improbable in program history, a twice-tipped 66-yarder to Quincy Adeboyejo — as the Rebels won at Bryant-Denny for the 1st time since 1988.
9. Katy Perry GameDay’s appearance
GameDay visited Oxford in 2014 to set up Alabama’s Week 6 trip.
Before Bo Wallace and Co. put on a show, Katy Perry stole the show.
8. Chad Kelly becomes 3rd SEC QB to throw for 4,000 yards in a season
Kelly threw for a program-record 4,042 yards in the magical 2015 season. At the time, just 2 other SEC QBs had reached the 4,000-yard mark. Tim Couch (4,275 in 1998) and Johnny Manziel (4,114 in 2013).
7. The NCAA saga, Hugh Freeze escort scandal
In terms of impact, this was the most critical, painful stretch of the decade. It comprised more than 10 moments. Tales have been told. Books will be written. All of the goodwill and momentum that Freeze brought to the program came crashing down. We could go into greater detail, but it’s the holiday season and you already lived through it once. The best part? It’s over.
6. Laremy Tunsil’s Draft-night drama
The 2016 NFL Draft was supposed to be the program’s crowning moment, when the rest of the country found out exactly how dominant the 2015 Rebels were.
The Rebels still had 3 players taken in the 1st round, but a leaked photo of Laremy Tunsil up to no good spoiled the night. Tunsil, who was in the mix to a top-5 pick, fell to No. 13. He’s still the highest-drafted Rebel of the decade, but it’s fair to say the photo cost Tunsil millions of dollars.
5. Ole Miss debuts at No. 4 in 1st College Football Playoff poll
The Playoff was introduced for the 2014 season.
The state of Mississippi owned the inaugural poll. Mississippi State was ranked No. 1. Ole Miss was ranked No. 4. It merely added to the hype of their Egg Bowl meeting 5 weeks later.
4. Elijah Moore’s untimely TD celebration
No way to avoid this play.
Moore scored a TD in the final seconds to pull Ole Miss within a simple extra point of forcing overtime in the 2019 Egg Bowl.
He celebrating his finest moment by … dropping to all fours, lifting his leg and pretending to pee on the State home crowd.
The penalty not only pushed back the extra-point attempt 15 yards — which Luke Logan missed — it cost the Rebels a chance to beat the Bulldogs for the 3rd consecutive time in Starkville.
Ultimately, of course, it cost Rebel to the core Matt Luke his dream job. He was fired 3 days later.
3. Crushing Oklahoma State in 2015 Sugar Bowl
Since John Vaught retired after the 1970 season, 10-win seasons have been rare in Oxford. The Rebels have had just 3: 1971, the year after Vaught retired, 2003 with Eli Manning … and 2015.
The 2015 season was especially meaningful because of how the Rebels finished.
After losing on the flukiest of fluke plays against Arkansas (the 4th-and-25 lateral), a loss that eventually knocked the Rebels out of the SEC Championship Game, they closed with 3 consecutive wins against ranked teams.
They pounded LSU, whipped Mississippi State and destroyed Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl — easily their best bowl win of the decade — to secure a top 10 ranking in the final AP poll.
2. The Lane Train roars into Oxford
Time will tell what kind of impact hiring Lane Kiffin will have on the next decade, but the decision was met with as much immediate fanfare as possible.
Fans greeted Kiffin at the airport and then roared his highlights during a basketball game.
Just like that, the mood in Oxford turned from anguish to excitement.
Straight up chills, man. I can’t wait to see what Kiffin does with this offense.
1. 2015 Egg Bowl win in Starkville
Winning the Egg Bowl at home is fun. But nothing beats silencing the cowbells and sending the home fans home angry.
Ole Miss hadn’t won in Starkville since 2003.
Chad Kelly outplayed Dak Prescott, spoiling his Senior Day in the process, as the Rebels beat State for the 2nd consecutive year. It was their 1st winning streak in the series since Eli Manning started the 3-game streak from 2002-04.
Ole Miss won 60 games during the past decade, but none was more satisfying than that one.