Ole Miss report card: Offense shines, defense falters in loss to Arkansas
No. 18 Ole Miss lost 53-52 to Arkansas in an overtime stunner on Saturday, and there are a number of places to assign the blame. The Rebels are now out of the SEC West title race barring anything crazy, and this season will always be looked at as an opportunity lost.
Here are the grades Ole Miss gets for the loss against Arkansas:
There’s really not much more Ole Miss could have done offensively. Quarterback Chad Kelly was spectacular, amassing 478 yards of offense and six touchdowns (three passing, three rushing). The Rebels put up 590 yards and 52 points despite losing the time of possession battle 41:03 to 18:57. The Ole Miss offense did all it could, and the other side of the ball is to blame for this loss.
Over the past two weeks, it looked as though Ole Miss found itself defensively. However, the things the Rebels were struggling with earlier in the year creeped back into play Saturday. Arkansas totaled 605 yards of offense, and quarterback Brandon Allen put up 442 yards and six passing touchdowns while completing 73.3 percent of his passes. The biggest issue came on third downs, where Ole Miss allowed the Razorbacks to convert 7-of-13 attempts.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
Ole Miss didn’t do anything flashy in the return game, but Gary Wunderlich knocked home a 37-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. Then, the Rebels blocked a game-winning field goal attempt from Arkansas as time expired in regulation to send the game into overtime.
The inability to find a way to slow down Arkansas’ offense doomed Ole Miss. Time after time, everyone expected the defense to figure things out and let the Rebels offense take control, but nothing was working. Throw in the boneheaded decision by coach Hugh Freeze when he decided to go for it on fourth down around midfield at the end of regulation, and things could’ve looked even worse.
With pregame hopes of a division title and re-entering the College Football Playoff conversation, there’s no excuse for losing at home to an average team. Arkansas is better than it was earlier in the season, but playing at home with those incentives should’ve been enough to get the Rebels a win. Now the hopes of winning the SEC West are seemingly over, and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of effort there is coming off a bye in two weeks.