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Ole Miss lost to Cal for many reasons, but penalties played a big part

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If you give up 113 penalty yards, you’re gonna have a bad time.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at California
When you’re beating Ole Miss.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss lost to Cal on Saturday night, 27-16, a plain embarrassment of total Rebel football breakdown. That second half should be swept under the refrigerator and forgotten forever, if not excised from the sum total of human knowledge.

Things in the first half looked pretty alright, though. Ole Miss held a 16-7 lead for much of the proceedings, until they didn’t and the wheels fell off the already rickety bus. That was due in large part to the loss of A.J. Brown, who just so happens to be Superman and Shea Patterson’s favorite receiving target. Oh yeah, Ole Miss also lost starting center Sean Rawlings, because the world is a cruel place.

ANYWAY, we’re here to discuss the Rebs’ penalty yardage on Saturday. It was, in a phrase, NOT GOOD, JIM. First up, Cal committed seven penalties for a grand total of 90 setback yards. That’s pretty bad. That’s like a drive and a half worth of yardage wiped off the scoresheet.

But let’s take a look at Ole Miss’ penalty yardage. Ole Miss committed 16 (SIXTEEN) penalties that resulted in 113 (ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN) yards of backwards gains. That’s, uh, a lot. That’s two, maybe three, full possessions erased off the game story. Never mind the penalties in the red zone or on defense when Cal had third-and-whatever. 113 yards of penalties is 60 (SIXTY) more yards than Ole Miss had rushing on the night. It’s 50 yards (FIFTY) less than Cal had rushing. Not ideal.

The yardage alone doesn’t do justice in expressing the degree to which penalties killed the Rebels’ chances of building any kind of momentum on either side of the ball. A personal foul call on a Cal field goal attempt allowed them to continue their drive, which ended in a fortuitous endzone pick. An illegal substitution on what would have been a punt continued another Golden Bear possession. Ole Miss got in their own way.

There are plenty of actual football-related reasons the Rebels struggled to stay on schedule in Berkeley, but dumb mistakes forced the offense to deal with more difficult yardage targets far too often. A handful of plays that would have otherwise been considered successful were ultimately empty gains because of how far back penalties had set the offense. Ole Miss faced distances of 15 yards or more to go on ten separate occasions.

Perhaps the back-breaker was a late delay of game flag at a high-pressure moment while Cal was mounting its comeback. Shea Patterson looked utterly flabbergasted. Wasted. Things from there went south. But that was just one of many, and it shattered Ole Miss’ chances in Berkeley on Saturday.

Better execution next time, fellas.