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Ole Miss drops infuriating home loss to South Carolina, 48-44, because the Rebs can’t play defense

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Something has to give.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Mississippi Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss lost to South Carolina in Oxford on Saturday, 48-44, and it was infuriating. South Carolina ace Deebo Samuel housed the game’s opening kickoff return for a touchdown to open the day’s scoring, and from there the Cocks and Rebs were off for a yardage party.

Ole Miss sleep-walked through the game’s opening quarter, allowing three Carolina scoring drives, one for a touchdown. The Rebs’ fortunes and execution tightened up in the second frame, though, with the offense exploding for 24 points to tie up proceedings, 27-27, at halftime. Jordan Ta’amu went into the locker room with 270 yards through the air, 76 on the ground, and a rushing touchdown.

The Rebs received the second half’s opening kickoff, and marched down the field in impressive fashion before ultimately stalling out on a bizarre red zone play that saw Ta’amu draw an illegal motion penalty for walking toward the line of scrimmage as center Sean Rawlings snapped the ball into his face.

It was ugly going in the fourth quarter, with Ole Miss failing on four consecutive drives to end the game. The unraveling was embarrassing for everyone involved, and watching it all melt down in real time elicited four-letter words without end.

We’re in the heart of injury season.

This fact is true of both teams. It’s November, and nagging bangs and bruises can quickly turn into more serious issues this far down the road. Ole Miss’ injury concerns in the secondary are well documented, but Ta’amu and Scottie Phillips on the other side of the ball began showing cracks in the surface.

Ta’amu especially took a number of hard shots, one that resulted in a roughing the passer penalty and the starting QB leaving the game midway through the fourth quarter. He did return, but for only one drive, taking yet another tackle for loss on third down.

Freshman big arm Matt Corral spelled Ta’amu for yet another stalled drive, then Ta’amu returned for yet another three-and-out. Both teams took a lot of damage, and Ta’amu in particular no longer looks 100 percent, due in large part to a game plan that leaned heavily on the quarterback running and taking hits.

Ole Miss’ secondary is complete shit.

You don’t need to be told this, but it bears repeating. The defense appears unprepared, overmatched, and unable to tackle. South Carolina running back Mon Denson ran all over the Rebs’ first and second levels for a career day. Jake Bentley looked like an elite quarterback.

Just utterly maddening across the board.