The Ole Miss Rebels were granted a one week reprieve from their grueling SEC schedule as they matched up with one of the worst teams in the FBS, the New Mexico State Aggies. The Rebels (4-6, 2-4) took advantage of the steep drop in competition, moving the ball at will and routing the Aggies by a score of 41-3.
Nobody was happier about the drop in opponent quality than Rebels QB John Rhys Plumlee. The freshman went 11-17 for 124 yards in the passing game and carried the ball 12 times for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns. Plumlee would set the tone right from the start, carrying the ball for 14 yards on the first play of the game, helping to set up a Luke Logan field goal. In fact, before he was replaced by Matt Corrall, every drive but one for Ole Miss started with a Plumlee run. That includes a 75 yard run all the way down to the NMSU 5 yard line. Jerrion Ealy, who had 71 yards in total on the day, would punch it in for a touchdown on the next play to extend Ole Miss lead to 17-0. The Aggies would tack on a field goal to make it 17-3, but Plumlee would find the endzone right before and after halftime to extend the lead to 31-3 and put the game away for good.
In addition to Plumlee and Ealy, Snoop Conner added 109 yards and 2 touchdowns of his own as Ole Miss totaled a season-high 447 yards rushing against the hapless Aggie defense. In total, the Rebels had 606 yards of offense, another season-high. Although it came against against the 3rd worst defense in the country in yards-per-game, it’s still an encouraging sign to see a young team dominating when they should be dominating.
It was more of the same on defense as Ole Miss allowed a season-best 193 total yards from QB Josh Adkins and the rest of the Aggie offense. Besides the one scoring drive, a 16-play, 65-yard trudge down the field, every possession for NMSU ended in a punt or the end of a half, with the longest drive going 32 yards. It was an impressive and balanced effort, led by Keidron Smith, Jacquez Jones, and Lakia Smith, who all finished with 7 tackles on the game.
While it was an impressive effort for the Rebels and keeps their bowl hopes alive for now, they will need to perform even better next week when #2, possibly #1 depending on when you are reading this, LSU and their dynamic offense come to Oxford. The Rebels will certainly have gained some confidence heading into that game but only time will tell if that will be enough to keep the Tigers close.