Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
Oct. 27-Nov. 2, 2014
- No. 4 Ole Miss lost a heartbreaker to No. 3 Auburn on Saturday night, 35-31.
- In addition to losing the game, the Rebels lost star receiver Laquon Treadwell on what looked to be the go-ahead touchdown with less than two minutes left, but ended up being a fumble, turnover and season-ending broken leg for Treadwell.
- Bo Wallace continued his strong play in SEC games with three more total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) for nearly 400 total yards, and no interceptions.
- Senquez Golson had an interception for the fifth straight game and is up to nine picks on the year, which leads the SEC and ranks second nationally.
- Three Rebels had 100+ receiving yards (Evan Engram 123, Vince Sanders 105, Laquon Treadwell 103) for the first time in the Hugh Freeze era.
- In their only match of the week, Ole Miss shut out South Carolina 3-0 Sunday at the Gillom Sports Center to improve to 19-5 overall and 5-5 in the SEC. With the win, the Rebels snapped a two-match losing streak and improved to 10-1 at home.
- The win avenged an earlier loss this season to the Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina.
- The Rebels have posted the most wins since the 2010 season, when they finished 19-11.
- Ole Miss earned its first win of the season when hitting below .200 thanks to a strong defensive effort of 52 digs, including three players in double digits.
- Junior Nakeyta Clair recorded three blocks to bring her career total to 299. She needs just one more to become the second player in school history to record 300 in a career in the rally scoring era.
- The Ole Miss men's cross country team raced to a runner-up finish at the SEC Championships on Friday, tying the 1968 second-place result as the best in program history. The Rebels finished just six points behind SEC Champion Arkansas.
- Junior Wesley Gallagher finished third overall in the 8K (24:21.28) to lead the Rebels.
- Gallagher is the third Rebel in program history to earn a top-three finish at an SEC Championship and the first since Barnabas Kirui won the SEC title in 2010.
- Freshman Sean Tobin (24:37.91) and sophomore Robert Domanic (24:38.50) clocked in at sixth and seventh, respectively, to propel Ole Miss to the historic finish.
- The Rebels placed six runners in the top 29. Freshman Taylor Caldwell (25:02.17) finished 19th, freshman Mark Robertson (25:11.41) placed 25th and sophomore Trevor Gilley (25:20.63) was 29th.
- Gallagher, Tobin and Domanic earned All-SEC first team honors by placing among the top seven finishers. Three All-SEC selections are the most in program history. Tobin's time was the fastest for any freshman on Friday, earning him All-Freshman team honors. Caldwell and Robertson joined him on the All-Freshman team, marking the most Rebels on the All-Freshman team in program history, as well.
- The women's cross country team battled injuries and finished 12th at the SEC Championship. Senior Margaret Harkness led the way at 54th overall with a time of 21:32.18. Freshman Shelby Brown finished right behind her at 55th with a time of 21:32.95. The Rebels raced a young team consisting of six freshmen, two sophomores and a senior.
- Ole Miss closed out the 2014 soccer season Thursday night with an overall record of 8-6-5. The Rebels finished the year with a 3-2, double overtime loss against the Tennessee Volunteers.
- Senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick finished her career atop the all-time records list at Ole Miss in wins (42), saves (297), shutouts (22) and minutes in goal (6,839).
- Head coach Matt Mott passed the 50-win mark this season, as he has averaged 10 wins a season in his first five years at Ole Miss.
- The Rebels competed in the Roberta Allison Fall Classic this past weekend and picked up some more big wins, with two players advancing to the final of their respective draws and two doubles teams reaching the semifinals.
- Senior Erin Stephens knocked off the No. 21 ranked player in the nation, Ronit Yurovsky of Michigan, in straight sets, and freshman Arianne Hartono defeated 42nd-ranked Georgina Petrasc of Mississippi State in straight sets.
- Five members of the men's tennis team were in Birmingham, Alabama, competing in the Players' Choice Open at the Highland Tennis Center. Four players advanced to the final round of qualifying, while junior Stefan Lindmark and freshman Gustav Hansson advanced to the main draw with straight set wins Monday. They will begin play in the main draw Tuesday.
- Ole Miss women's golf opened its final tournament of the season Sunday at the Jim West Challenge in Bourne, Texas.
- After the opening round, Ole Miss was sitting in ninth with a score of 314, and three players tied for 30th with a score of 6-over-par, 78.
In this week's edition of Observations from the Best Seat in the House, Metz Camfield and I teamed up to give you our thoughts and opinions of the week that was in Ole Miss athletics. There's a lot on our minds, so let's get into it:
Metz Camfield - First of all, everyone in Rebel Nation and beyond is thinking about Laquon Treadwell and hoping for a speedy and full recovery. He's a remarkable talent, but the way he carries himself both in games and out of games is also something to admire and makes him an easy guy to root for. The injury occurred because Treadwell was working so hard, dragging a defender and doing everything he could to get into the end zone, all qualities that Ole Miss fans admire about him, and opposing fans respect about him.
Austin Miller - We all wish Laquon Traadwell a speedy and full recovery. The talented sophomore underwent surgery late Saturday night to repair a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle. He posted this message on his Instagram account Sunday morning:
"Not everything in life is set out to be easy, & not every plan we have for ourselves work out in our favor. Even the greatest & most powerful people we praise or look up to have huge downfalls, but it takes a strong person & an even stronger mindset to prepare for that major come back. It didn't kill me, so watch as I become stronger. Thanks for the prayers everyone, God bless."
Bo Wallace also posted a message on his Instagram account Sunday afternoon in support of his injured teammate:
"Played my last down with one of the best to ever put on an Ole Miss uniform and one of the best leaders I have been around. It was a great ride @successfulquon the best is yet to come for you!"
MC - While you can never "replace" a talent like Treadwell, the Rebels have a very talented receiving corps, including senior Vince Sanders and sophomore tight end Evan Engram, who each topped the 100-yard mark against Auburn. Sanders, Engram, Quincy Adeboyejo, et al will have to step up for the final three games of the regular season in order to fill the void caused by Treadwell's absence. They are capable of doing that.
AM - A lot has been said and written about Treadwell's injury and the impact going forward. Here's an all-encompassing look from the Clarion-Ledger's Hugh Kellenberger.
MC - Bo Wallace once again showed his resolve Saturday night by bouncing back from the LSU game in a big way. Wallace threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns, completed 70 percent of his passes (that percentage could have been higher if not for some desperation throws on the final drive), and also ran for a team-high 61 yards and one touchdown.
AM - Bo Wallace might not have had his winning moment Saturday, but he bounced back from one of the worst games of his career with one of the best games of his career to give his team a chance, as he has done time and time again during his Ole Miss career.
"He played well," co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner said. "Guys made plays for him. I haven't seen the stats but I feel like he threw the ball pretty well. He played well enough to win, but he just didn't get the breaks."
AM - It may have gone largely unnoticed, but Ben Still deserves a lot of credit for playing through a sprained MCL in his knee. When starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil was unable to go due to a bicep and shoulder injury, Fahn Cooper moved from right tackle to left tackle, Robert Conyers moved from center to right tackle, and Still stepped into the center spot.
"Man, he just gutted it out," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "He'll be so sore. He'll be hurting the rest of the week for sure, and I'm just proud of him. I told him that at halftime. I'm just crazy proud of him."
MC - There's no use in getting upset about the injuries Ole Miss has endured in the past two weeks. Being upset about the injuries won't cause the student-athletes to get healthy faster, they'll simply cloud your ability to fully enjoy the ones who are healthy and the season that remains. Injuries are a part of sports, especially one as physical as football.
Engram, who suffered a season-ending injury last year as a freshman, said it well after the game yesterday: "It's part of the game, and it stinks to see how much work we put in. Especially guys like Laquon (Treadwell) and Denzel (Nkemdiche), but we love each other and will fight for each other the rest of the season. In one play it could be gone. Last year I experienced that and now guys will have to step up."
AM - With the loss to Auburn, Ole Miss lost control of its destiny to the SEC Western Division title and the College Football Playoff. It's a long shot at this point, but there's a path. It starts with winning out against Presbyterian, Arkansas and Mississippi State and then getting a lot of help.
At No. 12 in the latest AP poll and No. 13 in the latest coaches poll, Ole Miss is the highest-ranked two-loss team. The Rebels debuted at No. 4 in the first College Football Playoff rankings, and it will be interesting to see how far they drop in the second edition of the rankings Tuesday.
"When you watch the game, if they're really watching games, we can't drop far," Wallace said. "We lost a game by that much. I just watched the replay of Laquon (Treadwell). We lost it by that much. I don't see how far they can drop us. Our season is still alive, we feel like. We'll find out Tuesday how far we fall, but we're going to keep fighting, and crazy things can happen."
AM - To that point, CBS Sports bracketology/bowls expert Jerry Palm projects Ole Miss to play in the Peach Bowl, one of the new selection committee bowl games, against Marshall. There's still a lot to play for, as the Rebels close out the regular season.
AM - The ending to the game likely evoked two painful memories for Ole Miss fans: Billy Cannon's 1959 Halloween night punt return and Eli Manning tripping over his lineman's foot on a fourth down against LSU in 2003.
The Rebels went on to win a share of the national title in 1959, 1960 and 1962, while 2003 seemed to mark the end of an era. Parity reigns today, and runs like those of John Vaught's don't happen in modern college football, but like those teams, Ole Miss is back on the national football map, and there's hope and optimism surrounding a new normal for the football program.
AM - The football team was not alone in heartbreak this weekend. Needing only a draw against Tennessee to secure its place in the SEC Tournament, the Ole Miss soccer team conceded a golden goal with less than three minutes left in the second overtime and was eliminated from contention as the Lady Vols advanced in the final spot.
AM - The Ole Miss volleyball team avenged an earlier 3-2 loss to South Carolina, as the Rebels shut out the Gamecocks 3-0. With the win, Ole Miss improved to 19-5 overall and moved into sole possession of sixth place in the SEC standings.
AM - This time, a week from now, we'll have observations on the men's and women's basketball teams from a preseason press conference Tuesday and an exhibition doubleheader Friday. So stayed tuned for those.
Dragging an Auburn defender on what initially looked to be a go-ahead touchdown, Laquon Treadwell fought his way toward the end zone, but had his ankle rolled over and fumbled into the end zone.
In the moments that followed, the initial touchdown call was overturned in favor of Auburn, and Treadwell was carted off the field with an air cast and tears in his eyes.
"It's definitely a fracture," said head coach Hugh Freeze of the injury. "It was obvious, even to me. If I can see it, I know they can see it. I don't know anything other than that. I can't tell you all the details of it. It's definitely a fracture."
"He was phenomenal," said senior quarterback Bo Wallace, tearing up talking about the injury. "He was really upset. It was tough to see."
Before the injury, Treadwell was having perhaps the best game of his Ole Miss career. He had a career-high 10 catches, tied for the fourth-most in school history, for 103 yards and a touchdown. Treadwell also made two key downfield blocks to spring Wallace for a 59-yard run, scoring on a 10-yard touchdown the next play.
"He sort of took the game over," co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner said. "That's why we were calling those types of plays knowing that he is hard to tackle. That one he could have been tackled about three times and just got rolled up on. Those things happen in football. It's a shame, but they happen."
Ole Miss matched Auburn score for score, as the offense rolled up 492 yards of total offense, but down four late in the fourth quarter, the Rebels fumbled at the Auburn 1-yard line on back-to-back drives, which ultimately proved to be the difference in a 35-31 loss to the Tigers.
"When you watch the game, if they're really watching games, we can't drop far," said Wallace, who was 28-of-40 for 341 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. "We lost a game by that much. I just watched the replay of Laquon (Treadwell).
"We lost it by that much. I don't see how far they can drop us. Our season is still alive, we feel like. We'll find out Tuesday (with the College Football Playoff rankings) how far we fall, but we're going to keep fighting, and crazy things can happen."
Visiting with Treadwell after the game, Werner said Treadwell is emotionally down obviously, but he told him he's a warrior and he played probably his best game yet.
"These things happen, and he'll bounce back," Werner said. "That's what we do here. It's going to be tough, but somebody else has to step up and that's what Coach Freeze talks about all the time. We lost guys before, and it seems like somebody will step up and the team responds."
In Treadwell's absence, a quartet of receivers in senior Vince Sanders, junior Cody Core, sophomore Quincy Adeboyejo and freshman Markell Pack will be asked to step up in terms of production and leadership.
More will also be asked of sophomore tight end Evan Engram, who came in with Treadwell and was behind him on the play where he suffered his injury and fumbled into the end zone.
"It's really tough to be just a foot away from national championship implications," said Engram, who caught eight passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. "That's tough to grasp, but we still have three games left. We can't just turn the switch off. We have to come back in tomorrow and prepare for Presbyterian.
"This one stings really bad. We're going to learn from it and we're going to get better from it. We're going to bounce back and be stronger from it."
UPDATE, 12:41 A.M. CT:
Three areas to watch as No. 4 Ole Miss hosts No. 3 Auburn in a Southeastern Conference Western Division showdown featuring half of the top four teams in the initial College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings.
Ole Miss senior quarterback Bo Wallace has had his two statistically-worst games the last two weeks, completing 13-of-28 passes for 199 yards against Tennessee and 13-of-33 passes for 176 yards against LSU.
Wallace had attempted 140 passes and carried the ball 61 times before turning the ball over on a game-ending interception against LSU. The Rebels were also held to season lows in points (7) and total yards (313) in the 10-7 loss to the Tigers last week.
"A lot of times when we're throwing right now it's third down," Wallace said. "We're staying in third and long so much. People get in their defenses and it's hard in this league to convert third downs as well as people play third-down defense. We have to get back to throwing the ball on first and second down and making plays like we did earlier in the season."
"I would say this for our entire team, not just Bo, our demeanor was a bit different in that environment," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "We let things get to us that have not bothered us earlier in the season. It seemed to rattle us a little bit. He missed some open guys. He also made some really good throws. It just seemed that our demeanor was a little bit different as a team. I haven't noticed any mechanical things that are any different."
Freeze has been pleased with Wallace's demeanor in practice, describing it as typical for him.
"He bounces back," he said. "He's resilient and he's hungry to get back out and play again."
Finding Traction on the Ground
The strength of the Auburn defense has been against the run, while the weakness of the Ole Miss offense has been its rushing attack.
Auburn has allowed just 3.37 yards per carry, tied for fifth-best in the SEC, and has allowed an opponent to average 4.0 yards or more per carry just twice this season, giving up 153 yards on 29 carries against Arkansas and 223 yards on 44 carries against Mississippi State.
Ole Miss ranks fourth in the SEC in passing offense (268.8 ypg) but just 12th in the SEC in rushing offense (149.5 ypg). The Rebels also rank 12th in the SEC in yards per carry (3.87), and have been held under 4.0 yards per carry four times this season.
Ole Miss eclipsed 4.0 yards per carry against LSU, averaging 4.03 yards per carry, but the offense struggled to find consistency, particularly in the second half. The Rebels ran the ball on first down nine times in the second half, and none of those rushes went for more than two yards.
The key in the run game, as it has been all season, more than any statistic, is keeping the offense on schedule and out of obvious passion situations.
"It's difficult to run in this league," Freeze said. "We have some challenges that we have to continue to work on and try to find what the best way is to attack defenses to stay somewhat balanced so we're not having to throw it every down and they know we're going to throw it. That's a bad feeling and a difficult way to go about being successful."
Gleeson, Bray Headline Special Teams Battle
Field position can be gained and games can be won by special teams, and Saturday's showdown features two of the nation's best in the Ole Miss punt unit and the Auburn punt return unit.
Ole Miss redshirt-freshman punter Will Gleeson was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after his game against LSU, having landed four of his six punts inside the 10-yard line.
For the season, he has landed 20 of his 38 punts inside the 20, as he has helped the Rebels rank second in the SEC and fourth nationally in net punting with a 42.8 average.
Auburn senior wide receiver Quan Bray earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors earlier this season, returning a punt 76 yards for a touchdown against Louisiana Tech, one of three total touchdowns for him in the game.
Bray leads the nation in punt return average (25.2 ypg) and has two punt return touchdowns this season, as he has helped the Tigers lead the nation in punt returning with a 23.45 average.
Not only will Saturday's matchup between No. 4 Auburn and No. 7 Ole Miss feature the first-ever meeting of top-10 team in Oxford, but it will feature half of the top four of the College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings with Auburn at No. 3 and Ole Miss at No. 4.
Auburn and Ole Miss are the top two one-loss teams in the rankings, followed by Oregon at No. 5 and Alabama at No. 6, giving the Southeastern Conference Western Division four of the top six teams. There are still four games remaining among the four teams, starting with Saturday's matchup.
"My first reaction was that we will always be the answer to one of those AFLAC trivia questions," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "We'll be answer for one of them when the duck comes across the TV screen. That was really what I thought.
"I have great respect for the selection committee, and we are honored to be in the discussions at this point, but it's way too early. It's good for our fans. It gave them a little boost and hopefully will get them to bring some more energy into the stadium Saturday. There's a lot of ball left and the only one (ranking) that really matters is on Dec. 7 when that final one comes out."
Rebels Ready for Balanced Auburn Attack
Ole Miss leads the nation in scoring defense (10.5 ppg allowed) and has given up a nation-low eight touchdowns. Ole Miss also leads the SEC and ranks fourth nationally, giving up just 4.35 yards per play.
Auburn ranks third in the SEC and 15th nationally in scoring offense (39.3 ppg) and ranks second in the SEC and 10th nationally, averaging 6.91 yards per play.
Something has to give.
For Auburn, it starts with the league's top rushing attack 281.0 ypg), led by league's second-leading rusher in running back Cameron Artis Payne (118.7 ypg) and seventh-leading rusher in quarterback Nick Marshall (83.0 ypg).
Marshall's improvement as a passer and a talented group of receivers, led by JUCO transfer D'haquille Williams (34 catches, 527 yards, five TDs), have made the Tigers more balanced this season.
"The minute you commit too many to controlling him, they have guys who make you pay and pay with explosive plays," said Freeze of Marshall. "Gus (Malzahn) has always done a great job of disguising his looks, motions and shifts.
"He does a great job with a lot of eye candy and things that can get your eyes in bad positions and cause you to make mistakes that give them explosive plays. Our goal will remain to be steady and discipline and hopefully not give up too many explosive plays."
Optimism on Injury Front
The injury situation continues to improve, as it appears offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, safety Cody Prewitt and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche will all return to action against Auburn, having practiced Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Every one them is going to give it a go," Freeze said. "With the stretch of games we have gone through without a break, it takes a toll on you both physically and mentally, some more than others. They did get some dings the other night (against LSU) that will probably keep them for being 100 percent, but they are going to give it a go for sure."
Center Ben Still was also listed day-to-day by Freeze on Monday, and his status remains uncertain, having worked individually Tuesday and Wednesday. The plan, Freeze said, is for him to practice with the team Thursday and see how he handles it.
"One day will tell us if he's ready to handle what we're going to face Saturday," Freeze said. "It will be nice to have him for sure because we had three possession the other night where it really hurt us in that game because of the injuries. It would be nice to have him thrown in there and let Robert move around and help us. We'll see how he does tomorrow."
Safety Chief Brown, who was thought to be out for the year, dressed out but did not play against LSU. With Prewitt dinged up, Brown has received significant practice reps at free safety.
"I expect to see him play some Saturday," Freeze said. "We'll see how he responds. It's a long season, but my guess would be we're going to need him before it's over."
AUDIO: Week 10 SEC football coaches teleconference (Freeze starts at 1:03:00 mark, Malzahn starts at 1:47:25 mark)
How the playoff committee to its first ranking decision, writes George Schroeder of USA TODAY Sports
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
Oct. 20-26, 2014
- Ole Miss took its first loss of the season with a 10-7 defeat to No. 23 LSU in Baton Rouge.
- The Rebels held LSU to 10 points and created four turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions).
- The Rebels have forced multiple turnovers in seven of eight games this year and have forced at least one turnover in 31 straight games, which leads the nation.
- Cornerbacks Senquez Golson and Mike Hilton both had interceptions, increasing Ole Miss' national lead to 17.
- This was the latest in the year that Ole Miss suffered its first loss since the 1963 season.
- The LSU crowd of 102,321 marked the second straight Rebel road game in which the opponent set a school record for attendance. At Texas A&M, it was even a Southeastern Conference record and state of Texas football record.
- Ole Miss picked up four crucial points in the SEC standings over the weekend with a draw against No. 21 Missouri and a 2-1 win at Vanderbilt.
- Junior midfielder Jessica Hiskey scored a pair of goals on the week, including the game-winner at Vanderbilt on Sunday. She has two game winners in three matches against the Commodores and also added an assist on the Rebels' other goal Sunday.
- The Rebels seek to clinch a berth in the SEC Tournament for the third straight season and make a push for the NCAA Tournament against Tennessee on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
- Ole Miss will honor its lone senior Thursday night when it recognizes goalkeeper Kelly McCormick prior to the start of the match against the Lady Vols.
- Ole Miss lost a pair of matches last week, suffering its first home loss of the season, 3-0 to LSU on Wednesday and then falling to Tennessee on the road Sunday.
- It's the team's first two-match losing streak since the opening weekend of SEC play.
- Ole Miss is 16-0 overall and 4-0 in the SEC when hitting above .200, but just 2-5 and 0-5 in league play when hitting under .200.
- Despite hitting well under her average last week, junior middle blocker Nakyeta Clair still ranks second in the SEC in hitting percentage at .411.
- With 82 total blocks so far this year, Clair has moved into second all-time on the Ole Miss charts in the rally scoring era with 296.
- The Rebels hosted the Ole Miss Invitational this past weekend, welcoming in Georgia, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt.
- The Rebels posted 13 total wins in singles and doubles on the weekend.
- Senior Julia Jones went 2-1 in singles, including knocking off the No. 6 ranked player in the nation from Georgia. With two more wins, Jones improved to 8-1 and earned her fourth win over a ranked opponent this year.
In this week's edition of Observations from the Best Seat in the House, Metz Camfield and I teamed up to give you our thoughts and opinions of the week that was in Ole Miss athletics. I was able to travel with the football team to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for Saturday's SEC West showdown between Ole Miss and LSU. Here's what we have looking back on the previous week:
Austin Miller - Give a lot of credit to the Ole Miss "Landshark" defense that gave the team a chance Saturday, forcing four turnovers and limiting LSU to 10 points in four red-zone trips, but the offense couldn't take advantage of their opportunities, particularly late in the game.
"Our kids fought," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "Our defense gave us a chance to win the game, to be in the game, but we could not manage any points."
AM - Offensively, LSU bludgeoned the Ole Miss defense, executing 55 run plays compared to 16 pass plays, as the Tigers rushed for 264 yards. The two scoring drives for LSU: 17 plays, 90 yards, 9:07 and 13 plays, 95 yards, 5:59, featured a combined 25 run plays.
"They just wore us down and kept the ball from us," Freeze said. "We didn't have but maybe two possessions in the second quarter. They just ate the clock, and they're really good up front. That offensive line is really solid, and their backs are really good. That's the first time we've faced an offense quite like that."
AM - Defensively, LSU held Ole Miss to 107 yards of total offense in the second half, forcing five straight punts to start the half, including four three-and-outs. The Rebels finally put together some first downs on their last two drives, which ended in a turnover on downs and an interception with two seconds left.
"They were pretty good, number one," Freeze said. "They were able to stay in two-high on first and second down and stop our run game. We struggled there with (left tackle) Laremy (Tunsil) out for most of the second half, and we had to move some people around. That caused us some issues with playing younger kids, and they struggled a little bit in this environment against a really good defense."
AM - The Ole Miss defense extended two impressive streaks, having forced at least one turnover in 31 straight games and having allowed 20 or fewer points in 10 straight games. Both are the longest active streaks in the FBS.
AM - Another bright spot, in addition to the stingy, opportunistic Ole Miss defense, was the punting brilliance of Will Gleeson who landed four of his six punts inside the 10-yard line. For the season, he has landed 20 of his 38 punts inside the 20-yard line.
AM - Ole Miss played in front of a stadium-record crowd for the second straight road game (102,321), the second-largest crowd Ole Miss has ever played in front of, and it had an impact on the game. Maybe it did not a significant impact, but it had an impact nonetheless. Personally, Saturday night was as loud a stadium as I have ever heard covering Ole Miss.
AM - The history backs it up, as LSU improved to 46-3 during Saturday night home games under head coach Les Miles with the three losses coming against teams that were either ranked No. 1 at the time of the game or reached No. 1 at some point during that season.
Metz Camfield - I thought it was interesting that after the win the LSU fans rushed the field. For Ole Miss, this should come as a sign of respect and another sign of the "new normal." The football program has now gotten to a point where a win by an opposing team is so significant that its fans rush the field.
AM - Two more impressive stats that speak to LSU under Miles: The Tigers are now 21-16 when trailing at halftime, and it was their 24th fourth-quarter comeback.
AM - As Freeze noted in his postgame press conference and CBS Sports bracketology/bowls expert Jerry Palm notes here, Ole Miss remains in control of its destiny in the SEC Western Division and likely the College Football Playoff.
MC - The Rebels' dream season is still very much in tact, as Ole Miss has just one loss and a number of highly-ranked opponents still on the schedule. If Ole Miss wins out, it will represent the Western Division in the SEC Championship game and will almost be guaranteed a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoffs thanks to a number of impressive wins.
AM - Looking ahead, Ole Miss hosts Auburn in a de facto playoff game featuring one-loss teams. Two things to watch this week: An injury update from Freeze on Monday, including the status of Denzel Nkemdiche, Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil, Cody Prewitt and Ben Still, and the release of the first playoff committee rankings on Tuesday.
AM - The Ole Miss soccer team picked up three big points, rallying past Vanderbilt 2-1 on the road, ahead of their final regular-season match against Tennessee at 7 p.m. Thursday. Both teams will be looking to secure a spot in the 10-team SEC Tournament. It's also Senior Night for goalkeeper Kelly McCormick, the all-time wins leader for a goalkeeper at Ole Miss.
AM - Congrats to former Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief, now of the Indianapolis Colts, who hauled in seven catches for 113 yards and his first career touchdown.
AM - In case you missed it, here's a unique video from Ole Miss Sports Productions: Landshark Symphony set to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Ole Miss had its chances.
The Ole Miss defense made seven points stand up for the better part of four quarters, forcing four turnovers and limiting LSU to just three points on its first three trips to the red zone.
But LSU finally broke through, going ahead 10-7 on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 5:07 left in the game. It capped a 13-play, 95-yard drive that included 12 runs before the scoring play.
"Our kids fought," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "Our defense gave us a chance to win the game, to be in the game, but we could not manage any points."
On the ensuing drive, Ole Miss moved into LSU territory before the Rebels were stopped short on 3rd-and-2 and 4th-and-1, giving the ball back to the Tigers.
With LSU likely needing just one first down to run out the clock, the Ole Miss defense forced a three-and-out to give the offense one last chance, as the offense took over at their own 25-yard line with 1:09 left on the clock.
Ole Miss had its second chance, driving to the LSU 30-yard line with nine seconds left on the clock, converting a key fourth down and drawing a defensive pass interference penalty, before quarterback Bo Wallace was intercepted at the 1-yard line, his first interception in SEC play.
"There were nine seconds on the clock and thought we could sprint out," Freeze said. "(Bo) needed to take the flat throw or throw it out of bounds. Worst case, we were at the same spot. We were trying to get it to the left hash or left middle, and we didn't get it done there."
"Bo would tell you, we were pretty clear that we were going to take the flat throw or throw it bounds, and then try a field goal. He must have felt like he had a touchdown play there with the clear-out. I wish we could have done that over for sure."
Ole Miss was outgained 406-313, converting just 15 first downs and going 5-of-17 on third down. The Rebels were limited to 137 yards on 34 carries, while Wallace finished the game 14-of-33 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Between the scoring drive late in the first quarter and the last two drives of the game, the Rebels punted on seven straight possessions, including five three-and-outs.
On of the key plays of this stretch included a 34-yard touchdown run for running back I'Tavius Mathers called back on a holding penalty.
"They're pretty good, number one," said Freeze of LSU's defense. "They were able to stay in 2-high on first and second down and stop our running game for the most post. We struggled there. Laremy (Tunsil) was out for most of the second half. We had to move some people around and that caused us some issues where we played some younger kids.
"We had a couple of chances. We just didn't seem to win many of the one-on-ones. They tackled extremely well and put us in a lot of third down, and we converted hardly any."
With the loss, Ole Miss moves to 7-1 overall, 4-1 in Southeastern Conference play, but by virtue of its win over Alabama and remaining games against Auburn (Nov. 1) and Mississippi State (Nov. 29), both at home, the Rebels remain in control of their destiny in the SEC Western Division and likely the College Football Playoff.
"They're hurt," said Freeze of the team's demeanor after the game. "They have to figure out how they want to handle it. We're not the only team in America that's going to go through this. If you had told me this team was going to be where we are right now, all of us would have been pleased. We're obviously not pleased leaving here after the season we have had.
"This stretch is tough. I knew going through this stretch was going to wear on you physically and mentally. The thing is, we still can control everything we want with the schedule that lies ahead. They're down, they're disappointed, and hopefully we'll respond the correct way."
The Rebels' next game with No. 5 Auburn serves as a defacto playoff game, as both teams enter with one loss on the season.
"We're ready for the next one," Wallace said. "We're thinking everyone is going to have one loss now. We have Auburn coming to our place next week. That's what we have our mind on."
Three areas to watch as No. 3 Ole Miss travels to No. 23 LSU for an SEC West Showdown on Saturday.
Stopping The Run
Not just this year, but throughout head coach Les Miles' tenure, LSU's running game has been a key to success.
LSU, which ranks sixth in the SEC in rushing offense (220.9 ypg), was held to a season-low 89 rushing yards in a 34-29 loss to Mississippi State and 138 rushing yards in a 41-7 loss to Auburn.
The Ole Miss defense leads the SEC and ranks third nationally in yards per play allowed, giving up just 4.15 yards per play, and they have been equally dominant against the run and pass.
Stopping the run, as Ole Miss did last week against Tennessee, limiting the Volunteers to zero rushing yards on 28 attempts, would also force the game into the hands of quarterback Anthony Jennings.
The sophomore will make his seventh start of the season, the eight of his career, and has completed 64-of-128 passes for 1,048 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions this season.
"It's run, run, run, and you want to stick your nose up in there," said defensive coordinator Dave Wommack of preparation for LSU's offense. "We have to do a good job of that in practice, shocking them every once in a while with a pass."
Managing The Game
In addition to the dominant defense, quarterback Bo Wallace and punter Will Gleeson have been two keys actors in the different management of games this season.
Wallace attempted just 19 passes and 28 passes against Texas A&M and Tennessee, two of his three lowest totals this season, leaning on a rushing attack that eclipsed 150 yards in both games.
Asked to manage the game more this season, particularly in recent games, Wallace has not turned the ball over in SEC play, attempting 108 passes and carrying the ball 49 times over four games.
"The big thing for me is I'm not trying to mess it up," Wallace said. "I'm going in and trying to not have any turnovers. The defense is playing well. If we punt it past the 50-yard line, they're probably not going to get points. It makes me feel a lot more comfortable."
Gleeson has been named National Punter of the Week twice this season, as he ranks third in the SEC and 11th nationally with a punting average of 45.5 yards, landing 16 of his 32 punts inside the 20.
Behind the left leg of Gleeson, Ole Miss also ranks second in the SEC and third nationally with a net punting average of 43.3 yards.
"He's been a huge factor," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "We have won field position with his punting. With the way our defense has played, the way our coverage units have played and the way he's placing his punts, it has allowed us to be very patient at times offensively."
'Saturday Night in Death Valley'
It has been said that Death Valley is where opponents' dreams come to die.
Through seven games, Ole Miss has ignored such history, instead making its own. The Rebels are 7-0 for the first time since 1962, when they went 10-0 and earned a share of the national title.
A win over LSU would give Ole Miss its second 8-0 start in program history, but to leave Tiger Stadium with a win, they must continue to ignore history and make their own.
LSU is 45-4 in night games in Tiger Stadium under head coach Les Miles, including 45-3 in Saturday night home games.
All three losses came to teams that were either No. 1 at the time (Florida in 2008 and Alabama in 2012) or reached No. 1 at some point during the year (Mississippi State in 2014).
"We have to play a very difficult team in a difficult environment in a difficult rivalry series," Freeze said. "Who knows what the outcome will be, but I do think they will have to beat us. I don't think it would be because our kids aren't ready."
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