If you are an Ole Miss fan, you had to figure this would happen this season. Ole Miss, after stunning the college football world two weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, fell on the road in Gainesville to the No. 25 Florida Gators, 38-10. After falling behind 13-0 in an ugly first quarter littered with turnovers and poor field positioning, the Rebels couldn't close the gap. The Rebel offense played respectably at times, but failed to finish drives for the second straight week. The Landshark defense, as we saw against Alabama and Vanderbilt, were susceptible to misdirection, and gave up easy, intermediate passes, allowing the Florida offense to move the ball deliberately and fatigue the Rebel defenders.
Florida quarterback Will Grier, who had battled flu-like symptoms all week, looked masterful at times, completing 24-of-29 for 271 yards and 4 scores. All things considered, Chad Kelly performed well as a passer in his own right, completing 26-of-40 for 259, but struggled to stay on his feet as the Rebel offensive line, weakened by injuries and an NCAA investigation, could not contain the aggressive Florida pass rush. He and Jaylon Walton collaborated on a fumble resulting from a poor read option exchange in the second quarter, which gave the Gators the ball within striking distance of the Rebel endzone early. In the fourth, he had a simple go route to Cody Core jumped by Vernon Hargreaves III and was stripped by CeCe Jefferson on a bull rush on the ensuing Rebel possession, but the game was all but over at that point. What ultimately matters though is that Kelly finished the night with a quartet of turnovers and just one touchdown. You'll never win an SEC game with that type of line from your quarterback.
The backbreaker for the Rebs came just before the end of the first half, as Will Grier completed his fourth touchdown pass of the night, a 15-yard pass to Antonio Callaway to cap a 91-yard drive that gobbled up most of the remaining time in the second quarter. The teams would head to the half with Ole Miss trailing 25-0, marking the only two quarters of the entire season in which the Rebels failed to score.
The Rebs got the ball to begin the second half and drove the ball to the Gator goal line, but repeated their red zone performances against Vanderbilt and Alabama, settling for a field goal to put Ole Miss on the board for the first time after using up much of the third quarter to do so. The Rebs stopped the Gators on their next possession, but a Chad Kelly fumble after a nice designed keeper killed the offense for the remainder of the third. The Gators would score to open the fourth and that's where I stopped writing this section of the recap. Ole Miss was outsmarted, outmuscled, and outplayed in Gainesville tonight. That's it.
Next Saturday, the Rebels get as much of a week off as you can get with a week on, hosting the hapless New Mexico State Aggies in Oxford. After that, a road trip to the Liberty Bowl to take on the currently undefeated Memphis Tigers looms large before the Rebels return to SEC play. In a perfect world, the Rebs will use the next 13 days to nurse injuries, retool some schemes, and finally have Laremy Tunsil freed from NCAA limbo. In an imperfect world... Well, let's just not talk about that. We will see y'all tomorrow and the rest of the week with whatever we can regurgitate onto this here website after trying to digest what we just consumed.