Ole Miss report card: Solid team effort leads Rebels past LSU
Two weeks after seeing its hopes of winning the SEC West title take a hit, No. 22 Ole Miss bounced back and dominated No. 15 LSU.
Here are the grades Ole Miss gets for the 38-17 home win:
It wasn’t the best offensive output of the season, but the Rebels were pretty good Saturday. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly totaled four more touchdowns to set a single-season school record and added 361 total yards. Most importantly, the Rebels built an early lead and forced LSU to get out of its element by throwing the ball more. When the Tigers made it a one-score game in the third quarter, Kelly responded by marching the Ole Miss offense right down the field. The Rebels never looked back.
Ole Miss gave up 508 yards, but it did what was needed to get the win. The Tigers were 6-for-22 on third- and fourth-down attempts, and none was bigger than the goal-line stand that gave LSU no hope. Tigers running back Leonard Fournette got 108 yards on 25 carries, but Ole Miss took him out of the game as much as could be hoped. The Rebels have a number of things to improve before facing Mississippi State’s hot offense, but Saturday was a step in the right direction.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
The special teams unit really didn’t do anything great Saturday, and Jaylen Walton fumbled a kickoff that gave the Tigers some momentum early in the second half. Other than that, though, there wasn’t any bad, which has become the norm for the Rebels.
Half the battle Saturday was getting the players focused. Last year, after Ole Miss lost a heartbreaker to Auburn that ended the Rebels’ chances at SEC and national titles, the Rebels walked into a game against Arkansas and got trounced. After a similar heartbreaking loss last week, the coaches had the players ready — and it showed. The offensive game plan was really good, and the play call on the 36-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to tight end Evan Engram was one of the best of the season.
Ole Miss needed to have a strong showing and get a win, and that is exactly what it accomplished. Now, the Rebels head into the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State still with an outside shot at winning the SEC West. Whether they admit it or not, a lot of eyeballs in the Rebels’ locker room will be watching the outcome of the Iron Bowl. Will that play a role in how focused Ole Miss is against the Bulldogs? We’ll find out. But the Rebels do enter the final week of the regular season with a title shot, and that’s really all you can ask for.