Ole Miss plays Alabama in Oxford on Saturday night. It’s 2018, and the Tide is a ruthlessly efficient killing machine comprised of a suffocating defense, a bludgeoning ground attack and—because the sports gods decided to take all of the joy out of college football this year—one of the country’s best quarterbacks.
The Ole Miss offense is hilariously fun, but for as good as Jordan Ta’amu and his receivers have been through two games, the Rebels will need some combination of insanity and luck to hang with Bama.
Of course, we’ve seen insanity and luck in this series before.
Recall where you were on Sept. 19, 2015, sometime around 9 p.m. CT. Ole Miss, clinging to a 17-10 lead in the third quarter in Tuscaloosa, faced a critical third-and-short. Then the Tip Six happened.
It was utterly hilarious in real time, especially because it came in the service of a 43-37 Ole Miss win in Tuscaloosa. What madness. What mirth.
It’s arguably the most memorable play in recent Rebel football history, if not all of Rebel football history. It’s iconic because it’s crazy and it’s Ole Miss disrespecting the Tide in Tuscaloosa. It should have never happened and yet it did. Against Bama. In ‘Loosa.
We present Red Cup Rebellion’s collective oral history of how we reacted to the Tip Six.
I declined a chance to go to the game because I cared not for making yet another trip to Tuscaloosa to watch Ole Miss be torn limb from limb. I’d seen that show five times previously and wanted to treat myself better than that. Instead, I watched the game at my house in Austin with some friends.
If you recall, Ole Miss had a 17-3 lead in the first half, which was cut to 17-10 right before halftime when Alabama unloaded a 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. It was the kind of drive that foreshadowed second-half doom.
Sure enough, in the first possession of the second half, Ole Miss faced a third and short, the snap was awful, no one blocked anyone, and you just knew this was the play where Alabama grabs the momentum and begins pounding the Rebels into dust. But they weren’t counting on Ole Miss to call the perfect play.
I remember falling into the classic screaming pattern of “NO NO NO NO NO YES YES YES RUN RUN WHY AREN’T YOU RUNNING RUN FASTER MAKE YOUR LEGS LONGER” as Adeboyejo ran to the end zone. After that, I recall a great deal of hollerin’, and I’m pretty sure my neighbors assumed we were having a knife fight in my house.
During the fall of 2015, I was living in Knoxville for grad school. The Ole Miss fan experience in east Tennessee was a lonely one—with exception to the UT-Oklahoma game that year, I stayed in every Saturday to watch the Rebels, aware that this may be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of team. When the Tip Six actually happened, my instant reaction wasn’t all that unique: some combination of joy and the realization that we’d need more than dumb luck to leave Tuscaloosa with a win. Back-to-back wins over Bama turned me into something of a pompous ass over the following days/weeks, especially around Vol fans who envied Ole Miss’ rapid ascent under Hugh Freeze.
We lost to Memphis four weeks later.
I remember a thousand details about the first time Ole Miss beat Alabama this decade. I remember the sharp woodsy smell of the cabin in the mountains near Jefferson, N.C. that my wife had rented us for my birthday. I remember the smoke in the Islay Scotch poured by my shaky hand into a glass made cloudy by a thousand uses. I remember the feel of the pleather couch that I sank my fingernails into as Blake Sims heaved a desperate dagger into the back of the Ole Miss endzone. I remember wave after wave of laughter and relief and adrenaline.
I don’t remember a damned thing about my place in the universe just a year later. I literally had to look up my email history from the week leading up to 9/19/2015 to even put myself back in the vicinity. I had proposed to my girlfriend-now-wife a couple of months earlier (that part I didn’t need to look up), and we were at her folks’ place, doing some visiting and wedding planning. I was crazy busy and nervous out of my mind. I struggle watching games with the in-laws; I think I may have casually flipped the game on after dinner, only to later sequester myself in their spare room to very casually squeeze out a panic attack or two.
I don’t remember a single thing I ate or drank, a smell, a feeling, a look exchanged with another viewer. I do remember, just for a second, the bottom dropping out of the entire universe when Chad Kelly fired a pass from a totally absurd angle, into the teeth of the Alabama defense. I remember how improbably it careened into the arms of Quincy Adeboyejo, how effortlessly he glided into an uncatchable gait.
I remember for a brief moment being on the right end of a feeling I’d been on the wrong end of as an Ole Miss fan way too many times. It felt awfully weird. And who knows? Maybe we’ll feel that weird, naughty giddiness of beating The Tide in football one more time before they shut this whole damned sport down for good. And when that happens, I plan to be there for it.
The night the disrespecting Tide era was born, I was at home in Nashville, watching the Rebs. Our boys were up seven at the time and facing a key third-and-one early in the contest. Then a stroke of genius hit Chad Kelly and he pulled off one of the greatest feats in the history of our fair sport. After the incredible audible on the fly by SWAG, Laquon Treadwell’s assist to Quincy Adeboyejo, and his sprint into the end zone, I just sat there and giggled for 20 minutes. What a lovely, lovely day it was.
I was at Penn Quarter Sports Tavern in Washington, District of Columbia. There were probably 40 or 50 Ole Miss fans there packed in the bar like sardines and hollerin’. For our efforts, the bar gave us all a bunch of jello shots (we’re adults) at halftime. In all, pretty good evening.
I can’t remember the exact particulars of the play itself. I know that, during the third quarter, I was sitting out on the bar’s front patio on this tall, flimsy, metal bar stool, and was splitting a pitcher of beer with some friends. All I really remember was reacting to the play by using the footrests of the stool to stand up really tall and shout what I can only imagine are dark incantations to the lord I serve (Chaos).
The only thing I vividly do remember is hearing several fans openly beg for there being no flags on the play, because if there was a penalty flag of some sort that would only be appropriate.
Because chance and circumstance hate Ole Miss.
One Man to Beat
I was at home with my wife and a good friend who had consumed approximately 14 beers and kept calling Bama fans “inbred rednecks,” which amused me, because when Ole Miss and Bama play, the rest of the county most likely refers to everyone in the stadium in that way regardless of school affiliation. We were hopeful that the impossible could potentially happen, but fearful that the inevitable crimson machine would slowly crush our hopes.
Then it happened: a high snap and a break in our offensive line. “GET RID OF IT!” we all exclaimed into the void as the pigskin came down into the large, athletic hands of Chadwick Machination of Gun Kelly. He couldn’t hear us. Even if he could, he knew exactly what the play was meant to do: bounce off a double-teamed Laquon Treadwell into the hands of a streaking Quincy Adeboyejo just like they had practiced millions of times successfully.
We waited with bated breath as the ball tipped off Laquon and two Bama defenders desperately trying to please the crimson horde. “GO GET IT BABY! YES YES YES YES OH GOD THANK YOU GO TO HELL NICK SABAN GO TO HELL DREAMLAND BBQ GO TO HELL FORREST GUMP!”
It was double-date game night at a buddy’s house. We watched the Boise State opener at his place the previous year and we all reveled in how amazing the beat down was. For the Bama game, we thought, “Why not try and keep the good luck vibes going?” I distinctly remember the throw and screaming “Oh no!” at the sack, then another “Oh nooooo!” at the throw, then many “Oh my [expletives] black bear based god yes!” after the end result. Many Saban diapers were dirty that day.
I was, predictably, pacing around Cutty’s in Charleston, S.C.. Either Jeff or I or someone had the post-gamer that night, so maybe I was writing, but I don’t seem to remember writing that night. It was still kinda slow in the bar, because it was still relatively early-ish on a Saturday night in September. I screamed at the television when Quincy broke free with abandon and spun ‘round, only to run face-first into my friend Ashley, who’s also is an Ole Miss person. We laughed a lot and probably bought shots for one another.
I don’t recall yelling “HOLY SHIT” louder on any other occasion.
What’s your Tip Six story?