Ole Miss was walloped by Alabama 59-31 on Saturday afternoon.
Alabama received the opening kickoff and set the tone immediately.
On the fourth play of the game, Tua Tagovialoa dropped back and found DeVonta Smith on a quick slant. Smith went 74 yards for six.
After quarterback Matt Corral left the game with a rib/chest injury against California Berkeley, true freshman John Rhys Plumlee made his first start.
The first drive was a rude awakening.
Following two short runs, Plumlee’s first pass attempt as the starting quarterback was batted down at the line of scrimmage, and the Rebels were forced to punt.
Out of the kindness of his heart, Jaylen Waddle offered a handout to the destitute.
The Crimson Tide return man bobbled the ball right in to the hands of AJ Finley, who returned it 30 yards for the special teams touchdown. Or so it seemed.
According to completely logical NCAA rules, a muffed punt cannot be advanced, and the touchdown was overturned. Ole Miss, however, did retain possession at the spot of the recovery.
For the Rebels, seven straight run plays showed Rich Rodriguez’s offense epitomized. The option looked rhythmic, Plumlee showed his raw athleticism, and Scottie Phillips drove his legs to punch it in from a yard out. That is all we would see from Phillips, but points were on the board.
POINTS. WERE. ON. THE. BOARD.
A rare defensive stop, highlighted by Benito Jones’ sack, put the ball back in the hands of Plumlee.
Primarily on the ground, the Rebel offense began to move. On the 13 play, 65-yard drive, Rodriguez turned to the air just three times.
Nonetheless, Elijah Moore made his presence felt with an incredible catch to the sideline. There’s a reason he was named to the Biletnikoff award watch list, folks.
Elijah Moore goes FULL EXTENSION. pic.twitter.com/Fyg0QrKc6r— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 28, 2019
Despite the drive ending in just three points, Ole Miss took a 10-7 lead. Yes, the Ole Miss Rebels led the Alabama Crimson Tide. And that lead carried into the second quarter, which was an improvement over 2018, when the Rebels won only the first 11 seconds.
Perhaps the Rebels will be first quarter national champions by transitive property— wouldn’t that be something?! Print the dang teeshirts!
From that point forward, it was pretty much business as expected.
Tagovailoa threw for 418, Smith broke a single game receiving yards record for Alabama, Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr. both averaged more than five yards per carry, and the Landshark defense looked more like Manatees.
On the other side of the ball, it was equally as frustrating for the majority of the game.
Let’s check in on Rich Rodriguez... pic.twitter.com/qBY6y4MKml— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) September 28, 2019
Plumlee completed less than 50 percent of his passes for 141 yards, and no Ole Miss receiver had more than three catches. However, there were moments of potential.
Regardless of his throwing woes, Plumlee showed an electric ability to extend plays with his legs, and added 109 yards rushing. Rodriguez hand-picked Plumlee to run his signature offense, and he looked comfortable doing so. Young and inexperienced, but comfortable.
Plumlee led the rushing category for Ole Miss, with Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner both surpassing the 60-yard mark behind him. Phillips, who has proven to be the team’s best back, was inexplicably nonexistent and carried the ball just seven times. For an offense that relied so heavily on the ground game, his lack of touches is perplexing, but Ealy and Plumlee might be the tag-team to lead the future.
And how about Jonathan Mingo?!
The Rebels tried to come alive with about 10 minutes left in the third quarter, and added a pair of touchdowns. Freshman Grant Tisdale took over at quarterback late in the fourth quarter and led a scoring drive of his own. Even with the struggles on offense, it wasn’t as disheartening as it could have (and should have) been.
Alabama will more than likely go on to the College Football Playoff, and expect nothing short of a national title. A loss was forthcoming, but Plumlee and company covered the spread. It could have been much worse.
Ole Miss, now 2-3 on the season, turns its attention to a must-win game against Vanderbilt. There is just enough hope to clutch to bowl eligibility, but the upcoming slate is daunting.
The Rebels lost a game they were supposed to lose.
OLE MISS WON THE FIRST QUARTER!!!