The return of star left tackle Laremy Tunsil for Ole Miss and the lingering affect of an injury to Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen suffered last week against Alabama contributed to a dominating win 23-3 for Ole Miss. The Aggies offense never got on track and Allen got pulled early in the fourth quarter, not for freshman Kyler Murray, but for redshirt sophomore juco transfer Jake Hubenak with the score already at the final margin.
Hubenak offered a brief spark to the Aggies offense by going 6/6 for 46 yards on his initial drive, but after the drive started at the A&M 8 yard line, it stalled at midfield on downs. Chad Kelly returned the ball to the Aggies via an interception on the ensuing play and the Aggies picked up a pair of first downs on Ole Miss personal fouls but, again, the drive stalled near the fifty yard line without A&M advancing into Ole Miss territory. Hubenak would miss on each of his remaining five pass attempts after starting perfectly.
For the game, Ole Miss limited A&M's offense to only three trips into Ole Miss territory (along with another that started in Rebel territory following an earlier Chad Kelly interception). As a team, the Aggies gained only 192 yards with Allen finishing 12/34 with 88 yards and an interception. Allen started decently, hitting six of his completions on the Aggies first three drives, before going through a stretch of 22 consecutive pass attempts without gaining positive yardage.
Ole Miss offense gained a spark from the return of Tunsil to the lineup following a seven game NCAA suspension. After gaining only 40 rushing yards on 24 carries last week at Memphis, the Rebel offense ran up 230 yards tonight on 51 carries. Jaylen Walton almost hit the century mark with 97 yards on 22 carries while Akeem Judd picked up 68 yards on 12 carries. The 230 rushing yards is the second most for Ole Miss under Hugh Freeze (2012 vs. Mississippi State, 233) in SEC play and the most against a power five opponent since gaining 272 rushing yards at Texas in 2013.
The Rebel passing game was not in sync tonight as Chad Kelly threw three interceptions and overthrew several receivers on deep passes. Kelly did hit on a pair of touchdowns, a first quarter strike to tight end Evan Engram and a 58 yard deep touchdown pass to Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell finished the game with 108 yards and the touchdown on five catches.
The Rebels travel to Auburn for a Noon E.T. kickoff next week still with control of their own destiny in the SEC Western Division with a 3-1 SEC record. With home games yet to come against Arkansas and LSU (along with a banana skin of a road trip to Mississippi State for the Egg Bowl), this game could act as a springboard for the Rebels to be seriously in the divisional race deep into November for the first time since 2003.
The Aggies fell to 2-2 in the SEC, but can gain some ground in their next several games as they host South Carolina, Auburn and Western Carolina before wrapping up the regular season with road games at Vanderbilt and LSU. This result should knock the Aggies out of any hopes of SEC West contention as they will lose potential tiebreakers to both Alabama and Ole Miss now.