Not since the Vandypocalypse of 2011 has an Ole Miss football team suffered the kind of thorough embarrassment it did against TCU in the Peach Bowl. And given the optimism coming into this game, this one might actually be worse.
What was supposed to be the final notch in a 10-win campaign, the exclamation point on a late-season turnaround, devolved into a 42-3 blowout that had most fans turning the off the TV and making another trip to the liquor store before the end of the second quarter.
It was 28-0 at halftime, 42-0 by the 13-minute mark of the third quarter. It was a joke.
It's hard to figure out how to distribute all the blame. The Rebels' attacking, athletic defense, which came in giving up a national-best 13.8 points per game, was absolutely dismantled by Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs' offense, allowing 423 yards.
TCU scored on a trick wide receiver pass on their second play of the game and the Rebel defense was on their heels from that point on, completely bewildered by the Horned Frog's hurry-up passing attack. I speculated earlier this week the Rebs might play tight man coverage and bring heavy pressure to force Boykin to make quick throws into small windows -- a tactic that Baylor and West Virginia used with some success. Instead, they spent much of the first half sitting back in soft zone coverage, allowing Boykin, who completed 71 percent of his passes for three touchdowns, to pick them apart first underneath, then downfield.
To the defense's credit, they did give the offense ample opportunity to stay in the game early, forcing a trio of first-half turnovers. But the offense threw every one of those chances in the trash.
Bo Wallace was horrendous in his final game as a Rebel, tossing two interceptions in his first four drives and finishing 10-of-23 for just 109 yards and three picks. He was clearly rattled after the early turnovers, looking indecisive as he frantically scrambled around the pocket, spooked at the slightest sign of pressure. Sure, an offensive line minus starting guard Aaron Morris played a huge role in the five first-half sacks, but Bo didn't help himself by hanging onto the ball too long.
On top of everything, star left tackle Laremy Tunsil went down with a broken leg just before halftime.
What it comes down to is the Rebs were utterly unprepared for this game. This wasn't just about Hugh Freeze being out-coached by Gary Patterson (which he was) or the players being outperformed by a talented TCU team (which they were). This was complete, Houston Nutt era incompetence across the board. And it happened with the whole country watching.
That said, TCU is a REALLY good football team that proved they should be playing in a playoff game. I hate to give the ole Mike Bianco tip of the cap, but give the Horned Frogs credit for absolutely dominating an SEC team.
Ole Miss won nine games in 2014. They beat top-ranked Alabama and knocked off a top-five Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. They were ranked as high as No. 3 and, were it not for a few bad bounces and key injuries, might have made a run at the first college football playoff. By most accounts, it was a successful season. But it's hard as hell to keep perspective after the joke of a bowl game we just watched.
Y'all better have plenty of bourbon on hand.