In our game preview, I mentioned Ole Miss making a lot of history in Hugh Freeze's first three years in Oxford. Since taking the Ole Miss job in late 2011, Freeze has landed the No. 1 recruit in the country, defeated a No. 1 ranked (in the Coaches poll, at least) Alabama Crimson Tide team, and earned Ole Miss' first votes as the top team in the Associated Press poll in decades. History was also made last night as Ole Miss beat Texas A&M. It was the first time the Rebels had ever defeated the Aggies, and marked the first time Ole Miss has won back-to-back games against ranked teams. The 35-20 win saw Kevin Sumlin's team shut out at halftime, something which hasn't happened to him at Texas A&M. And the whole thing was in front of the largest football crowd in the history of the state of Texas.
I can't really wrap my mind around all of that. These types of accomplishments aren't something that any of us are all that accustomed to, but we're pretty damn happy with them nonetheless.
"That Didn't Sit Well"
The offense did sputter at times against a Texas A&M defense that is barely in the middle-of-the-pack SEC wise, but I perceived a lot of that to be the result of Hugh Freeze calling a very slow, deliberate came once the Rebels quickly jumped ahead by three scores.
But, man, it's hard to find something to gripe about when your team beats a ranked SEC opponent on the road in incredibly convincing fashion. And to think that "this is a hangover game" was actually a national narrative regarding the Rebels' chances leading into this game.
"Going Back for Seconds"
You want a great gif? Here:
I know you enjoy that as much as I do. The Ole Miss defense was, again, prenomenal against a potent offense. The Ole Miss secondary in particular was as excellent as ever. I think it's safe to say that Ole Miss has never had a group of defensive backs so good at following plays, getting to the ball, and tackling - both on a fundamental level and with regards to the "wow" factor of some of their hits.
The running game
Again, it's worth mentioning once more that Texas A&M's defense isn't something against which Ole Miss could be expected to struggle, but I did see a lot of improvement out of the much maligned Ole Miss running game last night. The offensive line, particularly Justin Bell, got some great push on their blocks, and the Rebels were credible enough on misdirection and play action to stay ahead of schedule.
To give you an idea of how improved they looked, take a peek at the combined numbers of Ole Miss' three most prominent running backs. I'Tavius Mathers, Mark Dodson, and Jaylen Walton combined for 17 carries for 89 yards, good for 5.2 yards per carry. That's encouraging enough, in my book.
If you ever find yourself in New York during football season, do yourself a favor and watch the game at Wharf with the Ole Miss alumni in the area. Last night there were about 100 Ole Miss fans or so on the bar's back patio shaking the rafters with Hotty Toddies and blasting "Forward Rebels" after every touchdown. I had an absolute blast connecting with some old friends, meeting some new ones, and even partying with former Ole Miss defensive tackle Gilbert Peña.
And beer. They have that.