After weeks of rescheduling, postponements and cancellations, I finally was able to make it to one last Ole Miss road game of the 2020-21 season. I have never been the biggest fan of Florida, but of all the games this year, this was the most exciting. The Rebels were going to its first bowl game in five years.
I didn’t have very optimistic thoughts about the Tampa Bay experience or what the final result would be heading into the Outback Bowl, but I ended up having a great time.
Florida is unique in most things, but my personal favorite were the houses next to the stadium. The homeowners stand on the street with signs and rent out their lawn space on game days. For just $20, you can park on top of someone’s front yard. It’s amazing, get those bills paid, respect the hustle.
COVID-19 aside, Raymond James Stadium shows out for game days. Restaurants are everywhere in the stadium and there are plenty of concession options. However, despite the name of the bowl, there were no Bloomin’ Onions at the stadium and their Diet Cokes tasted like imitation vanilla.
While the vanilla flavoring was a bummer, our very own Vanilla Vick (John Rhys Plumlee) made up for the lack in soft drink. He is the epitome of a team player. He happily does whatever he is asked, and on Saturday, he did it perfectly. It’s not often a backup quarterback is able to step into a bowl game on a moment’s notice as a slot receiver and set up the game winning touchdown. Matt Corral completed 30-of-44 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns so starting him at quarterback is the right call, but I would be remiss not to mention the athletic capabilities Plumlee is beginning to tap into for the future.
I am very hopeful we get to see more of him next year. With a full offseason of trick plays and route running, things could get scary.
As for the on-field play, Ole Miss entered the game without its key offensive weapons against the No. 11 team in the country and I was uneasy as to how the offense would perform. In the end, the final result left me feeling like the Rebels could have put up a lot more points on the Hoosiers with a full offensive attack. The future is very bright, folks.
Indiana ripped all that Big Ten stuff off their uniforms thinking they deserved a better bowl then proceeded to lose the bowl they were in go ahead and put that Sun Belt patch on that uniform for me fellas— Scottie Simpin (@SadOleMissSimp) January 2, 2021
Indiana fans were very nice despite the loss, but you could see the anger and disappointment in not winning a bowl game in over 20 years. They travelled very well, and filled up the majority of the stadium. Our tickets were at the very top and it was the kind of seats that make you feel like you’re going to fall every time you walk down the stairs. Ole Miss fans were all around us, but it was really hot and really humid.
Around the time of Baby Swag’s touchdown, I made my way into enemy territory that also happened to be in the shade. With a 13-6 lead and Hoosiers fans all around us, I was having the time of my life. There was a very young and very passionate opposing fan in front of us. She was screaming and going through all the emotions, pom poms and all. I felt her vibes.
When the momentum began to shift late in the fourth quarter, we switched roles. All the thoughts of being an Ole Miss fan start to come out.
Why always us?
What’s bonkers is that I chose to be an Ole Miss fan. I wasn’t raised as one. I just looked at this whole situation and thought that I would also love to hurt my own feelings.— Morgan L. Stringer (@MoString) December 20, 2020
Rebel fans have become numb to losing games in the fourth quarter and as “he-who-must-not-be-named” missed two field goals and an extra point, the inevitable post game blues were sure to come. Even with the lead in the final five minutes, and an incredible showing by the defense, it all seemingly began to slip away. The angry tweets began to come out, and so did my frustrated language. It was not Sunday approved.
(They have since been deleted. Mostly.)
In the end, the Lane Kiffin era finished with an Outback Bowl victory that made Rebel fans feel invincible. Upon leaving the stadium, a few (intoxicated) Ole Miss hooligans began chanting and singing “Basketball! Basketball!” I am not sure what the purpose of it was, but an Indiana fan came up and threw a punch. He missed, and the red and blue-donned drunkards kept walking and chanting along.
It’s wins like this that make me go through the full range of emotions and we celebrated with an honorary Outback Steakhouse celebration. But to our dismay, there was no free fried appetizer on game day. All in all, Tampa was fun, but without a win, I can’t imagine liking it as much as I did.
I can’t wait for next season, and I already look forward to Kiffin & co. ruining Big Ten bowl dreams for years to come.