Rapid Reaction: Ole Miss upsets No. 14 Mississippi State in Starkville
Forget the fact that Ole Miss can’t play in a bowl game this season.
The Rebels, which self-imposed a bowl ban, needed one more win to get to a .500 overall record, and apparently, that meant something to them.
Ole Miss took down its in-state rival, No. 14 Mississippi State, on Thanksgiving night in Starkville. The Rebels won 31-28.
Here are a few takeaways from the game:
A.J. Brown is going to play on Sundays.
Yes, he’s still a sophomore. Yes, he’s a bit undersized. But boy, oh boy, he’s a football player. Brown has proven to be a reliable deep threat for the Rebels all season. On Thursday night in Starkville (his hometown), Brown balled out. He ended up leading Ole Miss (as he’s done most of the season) with six catches for 167 yards and a touchdown. Brown had a remarkable 77-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter that gave the Rebels a two-score lead and plenty of momentum in the game.
Finally, a bit of defense.
The Rebels’ defense finally stepped up in terms of the bend-but-don’t-break thing. Sure, Ole Miss’ defensive unit still ended up getting gassed late — letting up 28 points and allowing 501 yards of offense after playing well through three quarters. However, the fact that Ole Miss forced five turnovers shouldn’t be overlooked. The defense stepped up and allowed the offense to excel in some easy situations. It’s also worth noting the Bulldogs were without quarterback Nick Fitzgerald.
Will Matt Luke be retained?
Since former head coach Hugh Freeze was fired and Luke stepped into a seemingly disastrous situation, he has managed to guide Ole Miss to a respectable season. The Rebels’ offense has hardly missed a beat. For Ole Miss to finish at 6-6 in a season that seemed unwinnable, it’s worth asking whether Luke should be retained. Would Rebels fans be happy with Luke as the caretaker of the program moving forward? A win over a Top 15 Mississippi State team is huge for his case.