Given every off-putting detail surrounding Hugh Freeze’s sudden resignation, it’s understandable that people would want to move on fairly quickly.
Considering fall camp is about to start, looking nowhere but forward is an imperative for the team itself, and fans have every right to share that sentiment. For everyone else who wants to, there actually is some time to reflect on the past five years, and it can be done in a way that doesn’t turn into some celebration of the guy who was in charge.
For better or worse, Ole Miss has been one of the more fascinating programs in college football over the past half-decade. I decided it may be worthwhile to expand on a few inflection points of the Freeze era. To pick out a handful of exhilarating wins while skimming over all the crushing losses wouldn’t capture a full picture, and it certainly wouldn’t be very Ole Miss of me to remain 100 percent positive. Luckily, we get to look back at the 2012 Egg Bowl first.
The final score of 41-24 over 25th-ranked Mississippi State doesn’t convey the blowout that it really was. The Bulldogs were able to get in a meaningless final touchdown with seven seconds left through the air from a freshman Dak Prescott, who managed to not poop his pants this time.
Through most of the first half, State had overcome generally stagnant ball movement with a 100-yard kickoff return and a 42-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Russell. On the other side, the Rebel offense was sputtering, having failed to convert a handful of big gains into points on the board.
Offensive Comparison through 25 Minutes of play
|Yards per Play
|Yards per Play
The Bulldogs were somehow up 14-10. Then this happened.
With Donte Moncrief’s 77-yard burst, Ole Miss blew the doors off the game, proceeding to go on a 31-3 run. Moncrief finished with 173 receiving yards, three touchdowns, and 25 yards per catch, which, after running the numbers, I can confirm is pretty good.
Following two first-half interceptions (one of which was inside the Bulldogs’ 5-yard line SMDH), Bo Wallace completed 11 of 15 passes for 191 yards and four touchdowns. In the second half, the defense gifted Dr. Bo with great field position, and he fully took advantage, leading two touchdown drives that started in State territory.
While the offense was putting up lofty numbers, the Landsharks were a force of nature in their own right. After halftime and before Prescott’s garbage-time score, the Bulldogs’ longest drive was for 25 yards and ended in an interception. Ole Miss allowed 2.4 yards per carry on the game, and that number shrank to 0.5 in the second half.
An improvement from 2-10 to 5-7 would have honestly been enough to satisfy some fans in Freeze’s first year, but a statement victory over a bitter rival won everyone over, not to mention it made them bowl-eligible for the first time since 2009. Up until that point, the 2012 Rebs were known for no more than giving better teams a hard time, most notably losing narrowly to top-10 opponents in Texas A&M and LSU.
Dropping the kitchen sink on an actually decent opponent changed the tone of the season, and provided a forecast of what this team would look like with more depth in a few years. It’s silly to think that going 6-6 would be enough for a fanbase to rush the field, but in a fuller context, it totally makes sense at Ole Miss.