In a game that stretched from Saturday night into Sunday morning, the Ole Miss Rebels defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide in a 43-37 epic which shifted the balance of power in the SEC. It is the second straight win over Alabama for Mississippi for the first time ever. It vaults them from #15 to #3 in the national polls, and into the national championship discussion.
At the heart of this result, Alabama had five while Ole Miss had none. Two turnovers came on kickoffs, including the opening kickoff of the game, leading to a quick field goal for the Rebels. The musical chairs at quarterback for Alabama led to freshman Cooper Bateman getting the start. He was efficient enough, but there was just something missing. So Jake Coker, the starter in the first two games, came in to play. While he was not as efficient, he really seemed to have a grip on the huddle and the belief of his teammates looking for a leader.
The two quarterbacks combined to throw a whopping 58 passes (44 by Coker and 14 by Bateman) combining for three interceptions, two by Coker. Derrick Henry rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns as the Tide amassed 503 yards of offense running 100 plays against the nation’s top defense. So much of that was a result of being behind virtually all game.
In the first half, Ole Miss used their typical strong defense to a 17-3 lead, before Alabama narrowed things at 17-10 a minute before halftime. But it was clear all night this was just meant to be for the Rebels. Quincy Adeboyejo caught a hurried and deflected pass from Chad Kelly, and turned it into a lucky but spectacular 66-yard touchdown just over two minutes into the third quarter to extend the lead to 24-10. After a pair of field goals made it 30-10, a desperate Alabama offense scored two touchdowns to get within 30-24, then another improbable play.
Kelly eluded the rush, sprinted right, and just inches before crossing the line of scrimmage lofted a pass to Cody Core who took it 73 yards into the end zone. Initially ruled an illegal forward pass but corrected by instant replay, this took the life out of the crowd and increased the lead to 36-24. After a Coker interception, Kelly found Laquon Treadwell for a 24-yard score to put Ole Miss up 43-24, but Alabama kept fighting. A pair of touchdowns wrapped around an onside kick equated to 21 plays and 105 yards over 5:29, and with 4:33 still remaining it was 43-37.
Amazingly, Alabama got the ball back and when Coker scrambled for a 26-yard gain it looked like a miracle might be in the cards, until Marquis Haynes hit Coker as he threw leading to a Tony Bridges interception which sealed matters. A rattled Coker did get a final chance, but four incompletions ended proceedings. In the win, the Rebels lost starting safety Tony Conner approximately four weeks to a torn meniscus. The Tide lost receiver Robert Foster, likely for the season, to a shoulder injury.
Elsewhere of note in the conference, Greyson Lambert set a NCAA record with 24-for-25 passing in Georgia’s 52-20 romp over South Carolina. Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns in LSU’s shockingly easy 45-21 win over Auburn. Florida beat Kentucky for the 29th consecutive year 14-9, and Arkansas dropped their second straight out-of-conference, 35-24 to Texas Tech. Vandy and UT posted victories.