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No. 17 Ole Miss football escapes No. 13 Arkansas’ comeback, 52-51, in an instant classic


NCAA Football: Arkansas at Mississippi Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

No. 17 Ole Miss (4-1, 1-1) had to use every single ounce of its defense in Saturday’s 52-51 win over No. 13 Arkansas. Even after it was over, though, most couldn’t believe it still happened. The Razorbacks outgained the Rebels 676 to 611 and managed 39 first downs, yet the defense held strong when Arkansas went for two and the win as the clock finally read “0:00”.

Matt Corral had himself an early Heisman moment, completing 14-for-21 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 94 yards and two more scores. But, as good as No. 2 was on Saturday, running back Snoop Conner was better. The Hattiesburg, Miss. native exploded in the SEC West tilt, running for 110 yards and three touchdowns.

Conner put the offense on his back early, scooting for 51-yards untouched and then 34-yards.

Henry Parrish, Jr. was also a treat to watch on Saturday, chipping in for a ho-hum 18 carry, 111-yard day.

But, again, the tone was set offensively by Corral. When the offense needed a third-down pick-up, Corral did it. When the initial play wasn’t there, Corral checked into something better and made the right throw or handoff. When the Rebels had nothing there after scanning the field and/or the protection broke down, he would scramble for the tough yards and cross the line to gain to move the chains.

And then he did this.

And then this.

Oh, and he did this.

The guy would simply not be denied in this game against one of the best defenses in the country.

And neither would Lane Kiffin’s play sheet.

You cannot say enough about the offense here, y’all. The defense was practically non-existent and the offense knew that this game was on their shoulders and they did not skip a beat when they needed to answer the call. Corral was surgical through the air and tucked it and ran when he needed to.

Dontario Drummond and Braylon Sanders only had four catches between the two of them, but they were good for 205 yards two touchdowns. John Rhys Plumlee, Chase Rogers, and Jahcour Pearson each had two receptions a piece as well. That was it, though. Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby stayed the course with the run game and punished Arkansas all day long.

The offensive line, down one starter and with a hampered Ben Brown, wore down an Arkansas front-seven that had been excellent all season and paved the way for the Rebels to rumble for 324 yards.

Now, with all the great things the offense did, the defense is an absolute mess. Sure, they got the stop to win the game, but Arkansas did whatever they wanted all day long. Whether it was through the air or on the ground, they were able to essentially move the football at will all day long and the 3-2-6 defense that DJ Durkin continues to stay in is a liability, to say the least.

Alas, Ole Miss was able to outlast the Hogs and win a huge game at home to even their conference record before hitting the road next week.

Next week’s game in Knoxville is now looking like it will be yet another shootout with the Vols finding something offensively with Hendon Hooker at quarterback. The Virginia Tech transfer has thrown for 450 yards and six touchdowns in blowout wins over Missouri and South Carolina and will test the Rebel defense and then some.

Oh, and it’s Kiffin’s return to Rocky Top.

Get your popcorn ready, indeed.