For the first time ever, ESPN Gameday traveled to Oxford Mississippi to the campus of Ole Miss to see the Rebels take on the University of Alabama. The home team did not disappoint as they upset the number one team in the nation 23-17 to improve to 5-0 on the season. Alabama had one final drive to try to tie or win the game but the Rebels defense got a huge interception in the end zone to see out their win.
It was a huge day for football in the state of Mississippi as both the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State came into huge games both ranked in the top 15. Early in the day Mississippi State beat Texas A&M by a score of 48-31 and later on Ole Miss got their first ever win over a top ranked team beating Alabama 23-17.
Questions surrounded Ole Miss coming into the game because the only real high-level competition they had beaten was Boise State but came in ranked number 11 in the country. There was an incredible energy in the stadium and on campus as it was the first time in the schools history ESPN Gameday had come to Oxford. The rebels took that energy and ran with it getting a huge kickoff return to open the game. The offense had its struggles early but was able to get out to a 3-0 lead. The Rebels defense played well throughout the game limiting the Alabama offense to some short drives early on.
After some early struggles on offense Alabama was able to get their running game going later on in the first half. A long drive with a heavy dose of the run game saw the Crimson Tide go ahead 7-3 when Blake Sims rolled out on third and short to get in the end zone. Ole Miss were never really able to convert on some first half short comings from Alabama and then had a really bad mistake turn into points for the Tide late in the second quarter. Alabama was able to get a strip on a Rebels run and score off the fumble recovery even though it looked as though the Alabama defender should have been called for a facemask on the hit. Alabama went into halftime with a 14-3 lead even though their offense had an incredibly tough time generating any offense in the first half.
Ole Miss’ defense did an amazing job of locking down Alabama in the second half only letting them score 3 points all half. Their offense followed suit in picking it up and on the first drive of the second half they were able to get a touchdown making it 14-10. Quarterback Bo Wallace really started to play well in the second completing some big passes especially in the deep passing game.
Alabama finally were able to get a field goal late in the third quarter after missing their first two attempts making it 17-10. Ole Miss were able to respond with another big drive in the fourth hitting a deep post route to tie up the game. Right after the score Alabama fumbled the kick return and the Rebels were able to recover on the Crimson Tide 30-yard line. This set up the go ahead score for the Rebels with Bo Wallace finding his man in the end zone, but the extra point was blocked making the score 23-17. If Alabama were to find a way to score that missed extra point could have loomed large.
On the final drive with just over two minutes at the start of it Alabama moved the ball very well both through the air and on the legs of quarterback Blake Sims. With about 40 seconds left Ole Miss got just what they needed when Alabama tried to pass to the end zone but the Rebels defense made a great play to pick it off in the very back of the end zone. After the pick the rebels were able to run out the clock and get the signature win of coach Hugh Freeze’s short tenure.
Ole Miss improved to 5-0 on the season as they got an enormous upset win over the Crimson Tide of Alabama. It was close the whole way and the Rebels showed they will be able to compete with anyone this year and that maybe they have what it takes to win the extremely competitive SEC West.
Commentary By Max Petkevicius