In a game dubbed “The Bounce-Back Bowl,” it’s Ole Miss showing the most resiliency thus far. Or is it A&M?
Either way, and with two quarters of play still remaining, No. 24 Ole Miss has had its way with No. 15 Texas A&M in nearly every way imaginable in and yet takes just a 16-3 lead into the locker room. Both teams are coming off a loss — Ole Miss its second, to Memphis, and A&M its first, to Alabama — that kept ESPN’s College GameDay Show from Oxford and sent it instead to the campus of an FCS program.
To illustrate A&M’s first-half struggles — and thus Ole Miss’ given the score — the Aggies had more penalty yards (77) than yards of offense (75) midway through the second quarter. The Aggies ended the two quarters with 126 yards of offense — and 87 penalty yards — and punted on four of its five possessions, with the other drive ending in a lost fumble.
One sequence of events, though, kept the Aggies from completely being blown out of Oxford… and then didn’t… and then did again.
With 4:19 left in the second quarter, Chad Kelly hit Quincy Adeboyejo for a 43-yard touchdown pass; however, a questionable chop block call negated the touchdown. On the very next play, All-American defensive end Myles Garrett tipped a Kelly pass to himself for an interception that gave A&M the ball at the Ole Miss 33-yard line. While the turnover resulted in just a field goal, it kept what would’ve been a 20-0 deficit at a more manageable 13-3 at the time.
The key phrase there is at the time as, after being forced to punt on the ensuing possession, the Rebels recovered a muffed by superb Aggie freshman Christian Kirk at the Ole Miss 24-yard line. On the very next play, and after a lengthy review, it was determined the Rebels’ Jordan Wilkins had fumbled and it was recovered by the Aggies. On the very next play after that, Aggies quarterback Kyle Allen threw an interception to set the Rebels up at the A&M 24-yard line.
The Rebels were only able to get a field goal out of that mess of turnovers, which kept the Aggies within two scores.
Ole Miss managed 257 yards of offense against a much-improved A&M defense, but has just one touchdown and three field goals to show for it. Kelly was responsible for the lone touchdown of the half, a seven-yard pass to Evan Engram late in the first quarter.