Vegas is pretty good at what they do. The Ole Miss Rebels, despite not wowing many who watched, beat the Memphis Tigers by the exact 21 points they were favored by in this game. They covered (barely), and yet they left a lot to be desired on the field.
Just as this team has won games this season by creating big plays, they allowed big-time mistakes to sour what was an otherwise dominating performance. The Rebels turned the ball over four times - two Bo Wallace picks and a fumble, plus a Markell Pack fumble on a punt return (sound familiar?) - missed two field goals, and committed a whopping 10 penalties, many of which were personal fouls.
Memphis, by the way, committed 9 penalties of their own with a handful of those being personal, so don't think they weren't emotional for this game as well.
But, even with the turnovers and penalties, Ole Miss was dominant. Memphis only gained 104 yards of total offense, 322 yards fewer than Ole Miss gained. The Tigers went 3-for-16 on third down, while Ole Miss was 7-for-16. Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch was in hot water all night, with the Landshark defensive line holding him to just 57 yards of total offense. Dr. Bo, in what most of us would call a bad performance, went 22-of-37 for 248 yards, two scores and, of course, the aforementioned pair of picks.
The difference maker here is clearly the Ole Miss Rebel defense, which was absolutely suffocating from beginning to end. The pass rush was quick and smart, the run defense was surprisingly aware and capable, and the secondary was as fantastic as usual at keeping opposing receivers bottled up and making great tackles in open space when needed. One of our Twitter followers put it best:
@RedCupRebellion Wallace needs to buy the entire defense dinner at the Beacon for saving his ass this game.— Doug White (@deaddoug) September 28, 2014
Now, we don't mean to start (another) discussion on the merits of The Beacon, but the point is well received. Bo put the team in a bad spot or two, but the defense showed up, showed out, and kept Memphis out of it for the entire contest. That's not particularly the best strategy against the rest of our SEC schedule but, hell, at least it's something.
We'll have more analysis and discussion on this game over the next couple of days. For now, let's celebrate being an undefeated, top-10, ESPN College Gameday hosting team.