Rapid Reaction: Ole Miss snaps losing skid against overmatched New Mexico State
Forget the close games, Ole Miss found a way to end its three-game losing streak in lopsided fashion. That passing game improvement? It will have to wait a week to see true progress against a much stronger opponent.
The Rebels found an appropriate opponent in the New Mexico State Aggies as a way to bounce back from recent narrow setbacks against Texas A&M and Auburn.
With a 41-3 victory, the Rebels improved to 4-6 on the season.
QB John Rhys Plumlee showed off what he’s known for early and often, most notably with a 75-yard run early in the second quarter to setup a touchdown to make it 17-0. By that point he was averaging 19 yards per rush. It was a rushing-palooza for the Rebels as they got on the board early with a 30-yard rushing touchdown from Snoop Conner. He added another rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter as the Rebels’ first five touchdowns were on the ground.
As the Rebels ran out the clock, they had more than 600 yards of offense and well over 400 yards of rushing offense.
Plumlee collected 177 rushing yards and two touchdowns against New Mexico State, which gave him 777 rushing yards on the season and seven touchdowns on the ground. Both are new Ole Miss records by a freshman.
By the time Plumlee added his second rushing touchdown, an 18-yarder, it was a snoozefest as the Rebels led by four touchdowns. Plumlee did most of his damage on the ground, but QB Matt Corral entered midway through the second half. Corral started the first four games of the season, but Plumlee has largely taken over for most games in the last month.
The Rebels tried to jumpstart a lackluster passing offense, which had just 99 yards against Auburn, something that’s been a topic of discussion in recent weeks. Offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez has used two-quarterback system for the last month, but they haven’t found a rhythm yet.
Plumlee on the first play from scrimmage became the all-time leading freshman rusher in Ole Miss history. He needed 13 yards and got 14 on his first play.
It was a mismatch on paper coming into the game. Winless New Mexico State came to Oxford with the second-worst scoring defense in the country and the 12th-worst scoring offense. The Aggies before Saturday had lost by an average of 24.4 points per game this season and had turned the ball over 22 times, the third-most in the FBS.
Six of its eight losses before Saturday were by double digits. The Aggies average 18 points per game and give up 42. They’re coming off of a 41-7 loss to Georgia Southern.
The Rebels get a significant step up in class next week with a visit from LSU.