Ole Miss Rebels

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 24:  Chad Kelly #10 of the Mississippi Rebels rolls out to pass in the first second quarter under pressure from Raquan Smith #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

No. 23 Ole Miss blows away No. 12 Georgia

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The story of September for No. 23 Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 SEC) had been the inability to keep its foot on the gas pedal once it jumped out to a sizable lead against a quality opponent. Whether it was a lesson learned or the mere fact that No. 12 Georgia (3-1, 1-1 SEC) was over-ranked heading in, the Rebels did not let up Saturday afternoon in Oxford. Ole Miss built a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, took a 31-0 lead into the halftime break and went on to demolish Georgia, 45-14.

Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was able to get an early rest after one extremely productive first half. Before Hugh Freeze handed the offense to backups quarterbacks, Kelly completed 16 of 21 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. The ball was distributed pretty well between the running and passing games as well. Eight different players caught a pass for Ole Miss, and seven different Rebels carried the football at least once. Kelly took off four times for 53 yards and a touchdown in addition to his efficient day through the air.

Georgia’s running duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel rushed for a combined 123 yards, but neither scored a touchdown before the game started to get out of hand and away from Georgia’s strength. The early hole meant Georgia had to try and catch up through the air, with freshman quarterback Jacob Eason having a rough afternoon on the road. Eason completed 16 of 36 pass attempts for 137 yards and an interception, and a number of dropped passes.

Georgia will return home and hope the momentum is quick to swing back in its favor next week. The Bulldogs play a pivotal SEC East contest against Tennessee. The Vols are playing an important SEC East game today against Florida. Georgia may need a win at home to bounce back, with games at South Carolina and at home against Vanderbilt following before a bye week. After the bye week comes the annual game in Jacksonville against Florida. How Kirby Smart gets his team to come back next week with Eason will be key as Georgia looks to prove this loss was a bit of a fluke.

There was certainly nothing flukey about it though, as Ole Miss showed what they can do when they play a complete game. For the first time this season, Ole Miss did not get tired against a physical opponent and continued to make plays all afternoon to lock down the win. This was one Ole Miss needed to have after the way this month has played out thus far. Next up for Ole Miss is a bit of a revenge game at home next week against Memphis of the American Athletic Conference. The Tigers stunned Ole Miss last season with Paxton Lynch at quarterback and Justin Fuente coaching. Both have moved on from Memphis (Lynch to the NFL, Fuente to Virginia Tech), so the Tigers will have their work cut out for them if they are to pull the stunner once more. Ole Miss will be a prohibitive favorite and get a chance to get to the bye week with a winning record before heading to Arkansas and then to LSU before returning home to play Auburn.

Ole Miss builds decisive lead even they may not relinquish vs. Georgia

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 10: Chad Kelly #10 of the Mississippi Rebels looks to throw against the Wofford Terriers  on September 10, 2016 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi. Mississippi defeated Wofford 38-13. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images
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The first quarter today in Oxford, Mississippi went about as expected for anyone who has watched Ole Miss play a football this season. The Rebels jumped all over Georgia with a 17-0 first quarter advantage, doubling the offensive production of the Bulldogs and forcing a turnover and returning it for a score. Of course, what happens after building a double-digit lead is what has been the story of the season for Ole Miss this season, with two blown double-digit leads resulting in losses against Florida State and Alabama. At the half, Ole Miss leads Georgia by a score of 31-0, and even they may be able to hold on to this one.

The Rebels opened the scoring at home on their first offensive possession by settling for a field goal by Gary Wunderlich from 24-yards out. The defense would be responsible for the first touchdown of the afternoon when Derrick Jones stepped in front of a pass from freshman quarterback Jacob Eason and returned it down the left sideline for a 52-yard pick-six and a 10-0 lead. The Ole Miss offense would get in gear the next time they held the football by driving 84 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown. D’Vaughn Pennamon picked up the goal-line touchdown to cap a drive highlighted by a 37-yard pass from Chad Kelly to Evan Engram from the Ole Miss 42-yard line.

Kelly would step away form a defender and unload a 55-yard touchdown pass to DaMarkus Lodge in the second quarter to extend the lead to 24-0. The lead was pushed to 31-0 when Kelly connected with Engram inside the 10-yard line late in the first half. Kelly has completed 13-of-17 pass attempts for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Eason has completed just seven of 21 attempts for 64 yards. It hasn’t helped that Georgia receivers have had a knack for dropping passes that would help bail Eason out at times, especially in the second quarter.

Georgia has converted just one third down out of 10 (although they have gone two-for-three on fourth down). Ole Miss has out-gained Georgia 323-186. If you think Georgia has Ole Miss right where they want them based on prior results this season, keep in mind that both Florida State and Alabama managed to snatch the momentum right before halftime against Ole Miss. That did not happen this afternoon for the Georgia, who is well on its way to the firts loss under heard coach Kirby Smart.

Louisville’s Lamar Jackson is Bovada’s overwhelming Heisman favorite

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 17: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals runs for a touchdown during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
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As the Lamar Jackson Heisman hype train hurtles down the tracks, at least one wagering establishment has wholeheartedly hopped aboard.

In its latest set of odds released Tuesday afternoon, Bovada.lv has pushed the Louisville quarterback to its pole position for the 2016 Heisman Trophy.  In fact, Jackson, whose 18 touchdowns this season are more than all but seven teams have scored through three weeks, is the site’s overwhelming favorite at 1/2 after being at 6/1 just one week ago.

The Sept. 13 favorite, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, has gone from 5/1 to 8/1.  Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (9/2) has slightly longer odds at 11/2, while Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett held steady at 6/1.

Greg Ward Jr. saw one of the biggest surges as the Houston quarterback went from 25/1 a week ago to 16/1.

Leonard Fournette was Bovada‘s preseason Heisman favorite at 4/1.  The LSU running back dropped to 12/1 after Week 2 and 20/1 after Week 3.  Around this time last year, Fournette was the Bovada favorite for the Heisman that ultimately went to Alabama running back Derrick Henry, who couldn’t even crack the top six 12 months ago.

Two players that were off the board last go ’round were added: San Diego State running back Donnell Pumphrey (25/1) and Washington quarterback Jake Browning (40/1).  A handful of players were taken off the board, most notably quarterbacks Chad Kelly (Ole Miss), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Josh Rosen (UCLA).

Below is the complete list of Heisman Trophy odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:


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Alabama-Ole Miss draws second-highest TV rating of 2016 season to date

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head coach Hugh Freeze of the Mississippi Rebels congratulates head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide after Alabama defeated Mississippi 48-43 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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For college football TV ratings nerds (like me), Saturday’s Week 3 action was an interesting test study in fans’ viewing habits and the power of branding.

The day was full of good games involving brand-name programs and, equally important, brand-name programs playing in different time slots and spread across different networks. Florida State at noon on ABC. Alabama in the afternoon slot on CBS, opposite Oregon and Nebraska on ABC. The prime time slot offered Notre Dame on NBC, Ohio State and Oklahoma on FOX and USC on ABC.

The results are in, and Alabama’s 48-43 defeat of Ole Miss won the day with a 5.4 rating, which doubled the same time slot from the same week a year ago (Auburn-LSU, 2.7). The 5.4 rating is the highest daytime number of the 2016 season thus far, and passed Florida State-Ole Miss on Labor Day night for the second-highest rated game in all time slots. (Texas-Notre Dame’s 7.0 remains king.)

That’s not to say CBS was the only winner of the day.

Louisville’s 63-20 beatdown of Florida State scored a 4.5, ABC’s highest-rated noon kick for a game this early in the season since 2005. Ratings for Oregon-Nebraska, Stanford-USC and other ESPN offerings were not immediately available.

Michigan State’s 36-28 win over Notre Dame was also a ratings winner for NBC.

FOX also scored high for Ohio State’s 45-24 bludgeoning of Oklahoma was one of the network’s most successful broadcasts in the package’s short history as well.

While CBS won the day — that The Eye had the distinction of showing the only top-level game that was actually competitive from stem to stern no doubt helped — Saturday was a good one for college football and its broadcasters across the board.

(HT Sports Media Watch)

No. 19 Ole Miss blows 21-point lead in shootout loss to No. 1 Alabama

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) runs through Mississippi defenders for a first down in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
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Hugh Freeze has accomplished a lot of things in his four-plus seasons at Ole Miss. He’s the only Rebels coach to beat Alabama two years in a row. Last year he became the first coach since Houston Nutt in 1998 to beat Alabama, Auburn and LSU in the same season. Today, he became the first SEC coach to build a 21-point lead over a Nick Saban-led Alabama team.

Those were nice moments, but that’s all they were. Moments. The back-to-back ‘Bama bashings failed to translate into a single SEC West title, and Saturday’s 21-point edge was erased as quickly as it came as Freeze’s 19th-ranked Rebels watched a 24-3 second quarter lead turn into a 48-43 loss to No. 1 Alabama.

After racing 75 yards in their first possession for a touchdown, Ole Miss nursed a 10-3 lead when Chad Kelly found Evan Engram for a 63-yard touchdown to push the lead to 14 with 4:40 to play in the first half. The Rebels’ defense ended the ensuing possession when Breeland Speaks sacked and stripped Jalen Hurts, and John Youngblood grabbed the loose ball and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown. The score stood despite Speaks hitting Hurts in the targeting area and blocking an Alabama player in the back before Youngblood crossed the goal line.

Rather than knock out Hurts, however, the fumble seemed to ignite Hurts — and the rest of Alabama’s roster. Hurts guided the Tide on a 3-play, 50-yard touchdown drive to pull within 24-10 just 30 seconds after Ole Miss pushed the lead to 21 points and, after a three-and-out, Eddie Jackson returned a punt 85 yards for a deficit-halving touchdown just a minute and five seconds later.

Alabama opened the scoring in the second half when Ryan Anderson sacked Kelly at his own 6-yard line and Da’Ron Payne recovered the loose pigskin for a touchdown. Hurts, who played like a true freshman for the majority of the first half, passed and threw for most of Alabama’s 51-yard field goal drive on the Tide’s next possession, but Ole Miss knotted the score with an 18-yard Gary Wunderlich field goal at the 1:47 mark of the third quarter.

Damien Harris, quiet for most of the season to that point, burst for a 67-yard rush on Alabama’s next possession, and Bo Scarborough gave Alabama the lead on a 1-yard plunge with 16 ticks left in the third.

Another Wunderlich field goal pulled the Rebels within 34-30, but Hurts (158 passing yards and a game-high 146 rushing) again engineered a touchdown drive, starting with a 41-yard run on the first play of the possession. Leading now 41-30, Alabama allowed the Rebels to push to their own 20-yard line when defensive end Jonathan Allen turned a quarterback pressure into a 75-yard pick-six, giving Alabama a 48-30 lead with 5:28 to play.

Ole Miss, though, responded. The Rebels moved 78 yards in 12 plays, capped by a five-yard strike from Kelly to Damore'ea Stringfellow, to pull within 48-37 with 2:59 remaining, and scored one play later when, after recovering an onside kick, Kelly (421 passing yards, three touchdowns) found A.J. Brown for a 37-yard touchdown. A 48-30 runaway had morphed into a 48-43 thriller — the Rebels’ two-point try failed after a bad shotgun snap sent the play off kilter — in two-and-a-half minutes.

The game would not flip completely, however, as Ole Miss could not force Alabama to surrender the ball over the final 2:51.

For Alabama (3-0), the win provides some actual adversity after Saban spent a week trying to create his own following wins by a combined 90-16 in the Tide’s first two games. Ironically, the win marks Alabama’s first victorious 21-point rally since Oct. 7, 1989, when the Tide turned a 21-0 hole into a 62-27 defeat of Ole Miss.

Ole Miss (1-2) saw its second loss follow a near identical script to the first. The Rebels opened the season by watching a 28-6 lead turn into a 45-34 loss to Florida State and now, two weeks later, witnessed a 24-3 edge turn into a 48-43 defeat.