Ole Miss football out-lasted Indiana in the Outback Bowl on Saturday to win 26-20. The Rebels, playing in their first bowl since 2015, announced a contract extension for head coach Lane Kiffin prior to the game and laid another building block in the foundation.
Without Elijah Moore, Kenny Yeboah, Braylon Sanders and Jerrion Ealy, the offense was prepared to use John Rhys Plumlee in the slot and received the ball to begin the game. A seven-play, 57-yard drive was disrupted by a costly unsportsmanlike penalty on Nick Broeker, but there are bigger problems than the Big Uglies getting after it early. Luke Logan hit a 26-yard field goal to open the scoring. Yes, you read that right.
As Indiana stepped onto the field with a clear agenda, five consecutive passes to Whop Philyor opened the play sheet. What happened next was truly astonishing— the Rebel defense forced a three-and-out! Unfortunately, they could not capitalize on offense and returned the favor with a Mac Brown punt. The Hoosiers tied the game on the next possession.
Punt and fg on the first two drives pic.twitter.com/33d8Q9WCUO— Josh Gollihar (@jdGollihar19) January 2, 2021
It was a fairly uneventful first quarter, but Ole Miss took a 6-3 lead on a 13-play drive with only a single rushing attempt. Matt Corral targeted six different receivers and converted an early third-and-10 with a big completion to Casey Kelly. The redshirt freshman is slated to take over the tight end spot with Yeboah headed to the NFL and has looked like a certified threat when the ball is thrown his way.
Three straight incompletions squandered a 1st-and-goal opportunity, but Logan found the uprights! 2-for-2 to begin the game! It’s truly a miracle! New year, new kicker! Wow!
The defense finished off the first fifteen minutes with a huge stop to force a punt. Landsharks were swarming and held Indiana to 72 yards and four first downs.
It was a slow start, but Ole Miss’ offense got going on the first possession of the second quarter. Henry Parrish Jr. led the backfield, Chase Rogers got involved, Plumlee caught two passes, Jonathan Mingo and Dontario Drummond were in the mix and Jadon Jackson had a pair of touches. The play-calling was smooth, Corral went through all of the right reads and his receivers made plays. Jeff Lebby put the cherry on top with a simple play-action slip-out.
As the Hoosiers approached the end zone later in the half, Otis Reese jumped a weak corner route to snatch an interception out of the air. Imagine the difference he could have made throughout the entire season if the NCAA hadn’t proved incompetent!
When push came to shove, neither side could find any momentum into the break and the score held tight at 13-3. Logan’s perfect start was too good to be true and he had a 49-yard attempt blocked as time expired. Because of course he did. Three points off the board.
On the flipside of things, Indiana began the second half with three points and cut the score to 13-6. But not for long! Ole Miss took over, Snoop Conner went streaking, and he capped it off with a four-yard score on the next play.
He had been passed over in touches by Ealy and Parrish Jr. over the past few weeks, and that trend continued on Saturday, but Snoop-a-loop got him some to open a two-score lead. That 14-point advantage stayed at distance until the fourth quarter when the Hoosiers finished a 15-play, 80-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run.
BetMGM set the Over/Under for the game at 66.5 points, but the offensive flurry that was expected didn’t quite play out as such through the first 46 minutes. Crunch time came and Corral needed to step up. Things looked promising for a moment as Drummond hauled in a 26-yard catch and Parrish moved the Rebels into the red zone. Despite the scoring opportunity, Logan came out to kick after three consecutive runs.
He missed. Because of course he did. Six points off the board.
With the game still within one score, Miles Battle was called for a pass interference penalty that set up the tying touchdown. It could have gone either way, the hand-fighting was mutual and the receiver will always get the call. The Hoosiers made it even with 5:58 remaining and it was time for the unsuspecting hero.
After moving to the receiver room on Tuesday, Plumlee caught three straight passes to set up a crucial scoring opportunity. On the day of his 19th birthday, Vanilla Vick mad a really tough catch in traffic and then broke to the sideline for 44 yards.
Drummond scored the eventual game-winner two plays later, but Plumlee was the lionheart and led the charge for Ole Miss to go ahead by seven with under five minutes remaining.
However, Logan missed the PAT. Because of course he did. Seven points off the board.
With 4:12 seconds remaining in the game, the defense needed to keep Indiana from scoring. It has been the achilles heel for the Rebels all year, but on Saturday it was what won the game. The Hoosiers had 1st-and-10 at the Rebels 33-yard-line. First down was incomplete to Philyor. Second down was the biggest moment of the day and Cedric Johnson sacked quarterback Jack Tuttle for a loss of two. It was HUGE.
Third and fourth down both landed incomplete and gave the ball back to run out the clock.
Corral lined up in victory formation and THE OLE MISS FOOTBALL REBELS WON ITS FIRST BOWL GAME IN FIVE YEARS!!!!!!