Even before Ole Miss’ 41-24 win over Mississippi State last Saturday, Hugh Freeze’s first season as Rebels head coach was a resounding success. The Rebels played with a passion and poise this season not seen from any Ole Miss team in a long time.
By contrast, MSU was overrated and less motivated as the game went on. Perhaps that was why Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen seemed downright subdued last week. Maybe he knew what was coming.
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, if nothing else, makes things happen. Sometimes—too many times—that is a turnover. But just as often it’s a dramatic touchdown pass. He’s blessed with a gifted receiver to throw the ball to: Donte Moncrief. The sophomore exposed State’s secondary, supposedly the strong point of the Bulldog defense, by catching seven passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. So much for MSU DB Johnthan Banks, who came into this season as everybody’s All-American.
The Rebel defense bent some in the first half but never let MSU get much going on offense. A key was that the Bulldogs were unable to convert three Ole Miss turnovers in the first half into points.
This game was the clincher to the worst 8-4 season in MSU history. Much was expected of the Bulldogs, who started the season with seven straight wins. But once State hit the meat of its schedule against its tougher SEC West rivals, the Bulldogs appeared outclassed, losing four of their last five.
MSU has a good quarterback in Tyler Russell and a solid running game. But the offensive line and receivers were inconsistent all year. And the defense looked downright slow against the SEC’s top teams.
It’s a mark of how Mullen has turned around MSU’s program and raised expectations when fans feel disappointed after an 8-4 regular season.
Southern Miss: It’s official. The Golden Eagles are the worst FBS team in the country.
USM capped its 100th season of football by losing to Memphis, 42-24. It was the first winless season in school history.
The Golden Eagles also earned the dubious distinction of making the worst two-year swing in major college history after going 12-2 in 2011.
After the game, first-year USM coach Ellis Johnson said he had “no idea” if he would return in 2013. There’s little wonder he was fired an hour before this issue went to print.