That was emotionally exhausting wasn't it? For roughly four hours on Saturday night, Ole Miss went back and forth with Alabama, riding a rollercoaster of forced turnovers and big plays and missed sacks and OH MY GOD WOULD YOU JUST PUT THIS DAMN GAME AWAY ALREADY. But mercifully, after nearly blowing two separate three-score leads in the second half, the Rebel defense broke up Jake Coker's fourth-down pass with nine seconds left to finally, finally, finally secure the game at 43-37, beating the Tide in consecutive seasons for the first time in the history of the universe and announcing to the college football world that they're a legit threat for the national championship.
The game started slow enough, slogging to a 17-10 halftime score after an opening 30 minutes marked by Bama mistakes (three turnovers) and a sputtering Ole Miss offense struggling to capitalize on them (just 95 offensive yards). And then the second half arrived, and with it a hellfire of points, confusion and chaos.
A Rebel offense that had just one play of 20-plus yards in the first half was suddenly reeling off big plays left and right, but a tired defense kept letting the Tide roar back.
The Rebs just couldn't put the game away
After Gary Wunderlich drilled his third field goal of the night (this one from 45 yards out; the guy had an incredible game), Ole Miss found itself up 30-10 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter. But just four minutes of game time later, the Tide had scored consecutive touchdowns to cut the lead to six.
But no worries, Swag Kelly's got this. After a pair of big play touchdown passes (and an idiotic Nkemdiche trick play on a failed two-point conversion -- seriously, someone rip that fucking sheet out of Hugh Freeze's playbook), the Rebs were back up by 19, this time with just 10 minutes left in the game.
But oh no, we couldn't have it easy. Bama marched 75 yards in 14 plays to make it 43-30 (failed two-point conversion), then got this miraculous on-side recovery:
That turned into another touchdown to cut it back to six with four and a half minutes left, and after the ensuing Rebel drive stalled, Bama got it back with three minutes on the clock and a chance to take the lead. So when C.J. Johnson picked off Coker to take the ball right back, that was a wrap, yea?
Ole Miss couldn't run out the clock, coming up short on a 4th-and-1 to give it back to the Tide with 31 seconds left. But the defense, exhausted as they were, had seen enough. Kendarius Webster, who was all over the field with six tackles, batted down his second pass of the night to stall Bama's last-ditch effort.
Let's be honest, Ole Miss needed some luck to win this one
Bama had five turnovers and had an awful night from their quarterbacks but still almost pulled this game out of their ass. Two of those turnovers were fumbled kick returns in the first quarter that essentially spotted Ole Miss 10 points. That clutch pop pass from Swag Kelly to Cody Core (the video is down below) in the fourth quarter? It could have easily been called back for illegal man downfield.
And then there was this:
But hey, the Rebs finally caught some breaks. That doesn't cheapen this win one bit.
Swag Kelly is the real deal
Chad didn't have the best game by any means, completing just 55 percent of his passes (though if you take out four balls batted down at the line of scrimmage, that number jumps to 62 percent). But he did throw for 341 yards and three touchdowns, ran for another score and didn't turn the ball over once. Oh and 305 of those yards and all three passing scores came in the second half.
In his first ever SEC start, on the road in Tuscaloosa, Swag was about as composed as he could be. And he was at his best when the pressure was at its pinnacle. After Bama cut the lead to six in the fourth quarter, they had all the momentum and Bryant-Denny was going fucking nuts. Swag responded by coming out with this play to shut them up.
On the next drive, he sent this beauty to Laquon Treadwell to push the lead back to three scores.
All aboard the Swag Bus, y'all. There's plenty of room in here.