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Texas A&M gets the win and Ole Miss gets the moral victory. Even if the Rebels aren't interested
It's not exactly inexcusable for Hugh Freeze to decide to go for it on his own 39-yard line, up 27-23 with about three minutes left in the game. After all, three minutes is more than enough time to drive the length of the field, and stopping Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has not exactly been a high-probability proposition this year. If Ole Miss gets the first down, on the other hand, things start to look very dire for the Aggies.
But Ole Miss didn't get the first down, and Manziel and Texas A&M scored the winning touchdown moments later, and so Freeze is going to face a week of intense questions about whether he should have punted the ball away and taken his chances to get Ole Miss a huge SEC win. And he should.
In reality, Ole Miss both proved some things in this game and was lucky to be in it in the first place. Texas A&M's six turnovers kept things far closer than they should have been. But the Rebels gained 464 yards of total offense, Bo Wallace would have had a great game except for the two interceptions, including the backbreaker after A&M's go-ahead touchdown, and Jeff Scott gained 108 yards on 21 carries. Nobody in the SEC wants to talk moral victories, but when you're starting out a rebuilding job the size of Ole Miss, there are worse things than moral victories.
The Rebels still have a sporting chance at a bowl. The next two games are against Auburn and at Arkansas, and Vanderbilt comes to Oxford in November. It's not easy, but Saturday night's game proved that it's also probably not impossible.
For Texas A&M, the possibilities are a bit more encouraging. Technically, they're still in the hunt for the SEC West, but that's an unlikely prize. Still, there are at least four and probably five winnable games on the schedule. An 8- or 9-win inaugural season in the SEC is nothing to scoff at, particularly when you look at the trouble Missouri's going through. And if they get a couple of lucky breaks -- who knows?