Ole Miss defeated New Mexico State 41-3 on Saturday, as expected.
When the 2019 football schedule was released over a year ago, there were two ‘guaranteed’ wins for Ole Miss; Southeastern Louisiana, who was the victim of Jerrion Ealy’s coming out party, and New Mexico State, who remains winless after Saturday’s drubbing.
From the opening kickoff, it was over. The Aggie kicker sent it downfield and right out of bounds, an omen of the play that was about to unfold on the field.
Though the first offensive drive was stalled after a dropped pass from Jonathan Mingo, who probably just forgot that an offense can throw the ball, Luke Logan knocked in a 36-yard field goal for points on the board.
Ole Miss is up 3-0 on New Mexico State— basketball website (@RedCupRebellion) November 9, 2019
There’s not a more important sporting event on right now.
On the next possession, Snoop Conner turned what appeared to be a stop in the backfield into a 30-yard escape-act touchdown that made it abundantly clear New Mexico State would not be able to tackle Ole Miss’ athletes.
After a defensive stop, Conner, who is averaging more than seven yards per carry on the season, lost a fumble on the last play of the first quarter and went into the locker room. He would return, but missed a few drives.
Fortunately, the speedy counterparts to the three-headed monster of freshman ball-carriers picked up the workload in his absence. On the next offensive play from scrimmage, Plumlee simply outran the defense for a career-high 75-yard run to the 5-yard-line. Ealy finished the job and ran over a defender en route to a 17-0 lead.
Turns out, he’s a grown ass man.
The rest of the first half continued in similar fashion, as Ealy and Plumlee led a 10-play, 65-yard scoring drive with under six minutes left. On 3rd-and-goal, Plumlee faked the handoff to Conner and scurried around the corner for a 24-3 lead at the break.
The Rebels tallied 307 yards in the first half, with 222 coming on the ground, and 119 from Plumlee. All three freshmen runners averaged more than five yards per carry, and the team had just one negative play through the first thirty minutes.
To counter the run-heavy scheme, Plumlee looked to throw on 12 plays, completing eight for 85 yards. He looked noticeably better finding his receivers on throws downfield, both rolling out and in a traditional three step drop. However, he doesn’t have the zip of an SEC arm.
It wasn’t an explosive performance, and it was rather yawn-inducing at times, but it was a dominant half. New Mexico State is bad, and Ole Miss was in the drivers seat for the remainder of the game.
After Conner broke a run inside the 20-yard-line midway through the third quarter, Plumlee added his second rushing touchdown of the night and broke the Ole Miss freshman touchdown record with seven.
Conner added his second of the night early in the fourth quarter, and it was business as expected. Ole Miss went on to run for 447 total yards, the most since 1962, and win their fourth game of the season.
While the offense kept its foot on the gas, Mike MacIntyre’s defense continued to do its job and do it well. New Mexico State ran 49 plays in the game, but gained only 193 total yards and scored just three points. Ole Miss recorded four sacks, five tackles for loss, three pass breakups and three quarterback hits on the day, with 25 different guys getting a tackle. Though his numbers may not show it, Benito Jones was in the backfield all night, and eventually drew a double team to open up space for others to blitz. It was another strong performance all around.
The only wrinkle that came amidst a by-the-book narrative came late in the third quarter. After Plumlee scampered in, out and around the Aggie defenders for 38-yards to midfield, he appeared to come up with slight discomfort, and Matt Corral came in to replace him. In his first playing time of the game, Corral led a scoring drive highlighted by a 25-yard completion to Jason Pellerin, who “Mossed” a defender to set up 1st-and-goal.
Plumlee looked okay after a tape job on the sideline, but did not see the field from that point forward, and finished two yards short of the Ole Miss quarterback single game rushing record.
At the end of four quarters, Ole Miss was the victor.
With the comfortable win against a bad team, reaching bowl eligibility is not mathematically impossible, but may as well be. A postseason appearance now requires wins against a potentially No. 1 LSU team, and Mississippi State on the road. So maybe math isn’t everything.
Be sure to enjoy this win now, because it could be the last win of the season.