Oct 1, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) hands the ball off to Mississippi Rebels running back Quinshon Judkins (4) during the third quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Ole Miss walking tall into meeting with Vanderbilt

Quinshon Judkins and No. 9 Ole Miss will aim to continue their fast start to the season on Saturday when they visit Vanderbilt at Nashville, Tenn.

Judkins was named Southeastern Conference Co-Freshman of the Week on Monday, two days after rushing for 106 yards and a touchdown in the Rebels’ 22-19 victory over then-No. 7 Kentucky.

Judkins has rushed for 535 yards and six TDs this season for Ole Miss (5-0, 1-0), which has won its first five games of a season for the first time since 2014.

Rebels coach Lane Kiffin said he isn’t concerned with Judkins’ workload at this point in the season.

“He’s great. He was really struggling early in the week physically from all the pounding two weeks ago, but he was better by the end of the week,” Kiffin said. “… He didn’t take the pounding that he took the week before. He’s doing a phenomenal job.”

Micah Pettus helped pave the way for Judkins, and in doing so was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week on Monday. Pettus played at right tackle in lieu of the team’s injuries along the line.

“He did play great for a first start; he played great whether it was his first start or not,” Kiffin said. “Really physical, how we talk about straining to finish, finishing people with a violent attitude, and that was awesome to see. So we pointed him out today in film, told our players again, this is how you’re supposed to do (it) in this program.”

While applauding Pettus’ effort, Kiffin also said Ole Miss needs to put the Kentucky game in the past and focus on Vanderbilt.

“Just like last week, we said, you’ve got to prepare the same regardless,” Kiffin said. “Last week, everybody built up the game and everything. Told them, it’s a faceless opponent. It’s not just when you play a team that’s not ranked and you’re heavily favored with. It’s both ways. That way you avoid playing like this. Hopefully they listened.”

The Rebels’ defense has allowed an average of just 11.8 points per game and has held nine of its last 10 opponents to 21 points or less.

Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-1) has been idle since being steamrolled by then-No. 2 Alabama 55-3 on Sept. 24. The Crimson Tide had a decisive 628-129 advantage in total yards.

Commodores coach Clark Lea plans to make adjustments following the one-sided setback.

“It’s just about improvement,” Lea said. “We’ve pinpointed some areas we want to strengthen from the performance (against Alabama), and we’re just going to pull that learning forward. And as we go, I think also these (bye) weeks give you a chance to kind of make adjustments and adaptations, not in big ways, but in subtle ways that kind of equip you schematically, so we’ll look at that, too.”

AJ Swann struggled mightily in his second career start, completing just 13 of 26 passes for 115 yards in the loss to the Crimson Tide.

Will Sheppard leads the team in catches (26), receiving yards (365) and receiving touchdowns (seven) this season. He had two catches for 13 yards in Vanderbilt’s 31-17 setback to Ole Miss last season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Lane Kiffin shows emotion against the Mississippi Rebels in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 Ole Miss up against Tulsa’s No. 1 passing offense

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has built his reputation on offense, but his calling card through one quarter of the 2022 season has been on the defensive side of the ball.

Kiffin and the No. 16 Rebels will encounter hot-handed quarterback Davis Brin when they host Tulsa on Saturday at Oxford, Miss.

Through three games, the Rebels (3-0) have outscored their competition — Troy, Central Arkansas and Georgia Tech — 129-13.

Included in those lopsided numbers was Saturday’s 42-0 blanking of an ACC program in Georgia Tech – a mauling that saw the visitors run roughshod for six touchdowns out of their up-tempo offense.

But the defense stood out just as equally as the rushing game, which produced 316 yards on 62 carries (5.1 per rush).

Those points allowed the Rebels to fly around on defense, as they had the previous two games.

They shut down dual-threat quarterback Jeff Sims and the Georgia Tech offense, which produced only 214 yards, including just 53 rushing yards on 34 carries.

That sparked the Rebels to their first road shutout since 2012 and first blanking of a Power Five school since a 45-0 victory over Mississippi State in 2008.

The impressive start has Ole Miss ranked eighth nationally in yards allowed per play (3.64).

With the SEC opener at home next week against No. 8 Kentucky, Kiffin said his squad can’t afford to get caught looking past Tulsa.

“I’m not worried about that,” Kiffin said Monday. “We’re not there. We’re playing Tulsa and worried about this week. You need to be (facing the) No. 1 pass offense in the country by far. It’s not even close.”

The Golden Hurricane (2-1) and their high-flying offense will be unique for Ole Miss.

Brin, who tops the FBS with 1,206 yards through the air, has helped Tulsa average 43 points per game and 413 yards passing. He has completed 76 of 119 passes for 11 touchdowns and one interception.

Last week in a 54-17 win over Jacksonville State, he collected his second 400-yard passing game, including 373 of his 424 yards in the first half.

“I was really excited about the rhythm that we found, especially early on,” Brin said. “And that just comes with taking what the defense gives me, and those deep shots will come and they did, so I’m just real proud of the way we executed.”

Brin’s top targets are Keylon Stokes and JuanCarlos Santana, who have combined for 42 receptions, 783 yards and seven TDs.

Stokes has 28 catches for 457 yards (third in FBS) and three scores. Santana has 14 receptions for 326 yards and four TDs (tied for ninth in FBS).

Tulsa was won two straight after dropping its season opener against Wyoming, 40-37 in double overtime.

Tulsa leads the all-time series 3-0. The Golden Hurricane won 26-0 in 1932, 47-0 in 1944 and 14-7 in the 1964 Bluebonnet Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) scrambles against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Ole Miss dominates on ground, blanks Georgia Tech 42-0

Ole Miss running backs Zach Evans, Quinshon Judkins and Ulysses Bentley IV each had two rushing touchdowns as the No. 20 Rebels walloped host Georgia Tech 42-0 Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.

Evans, a transfer from TCU, posted a game-high 134 yards on 18 rushes. True freshman Judkins went for 98 yards on 19 carries. Bentley added 27 yards on eight attempts.

In producing its six scores on the ground, Ole Miss (3-0) churned out 316 yards on 62 carries.

Playing just three quarters, quarterback Jaxson Dart was 10-for-16 for 207 yards and an interception. He added 40 rushing yards on 10 carries.

Georgia Tech (1-2) struggled offensively and saw Jeff Sims go 18-for-32 for 161 yards. In 16 carries, he was left with -2 yards as Ole Miss notched seven sacks.

The Rebels dominated play, amassing a 547-214 edge in total yardage.

Under fourth-year head coach Geoff Collins, the Yellow Jackets fell to 2-12 in their past 14 games against Power 5 programs.

They are 1-10 against Associated Press-ranked teams during Collins’ tenure, upsetting No. 21 North Carolina 45-22 on Sept. 25 last season in Atlanta.

After speculation about its starting quarterback following a minor injury to last week’s starter Luke Altmyer, Ole Miss sent out Southern Cal transfer Dart.

Following Evans’ first rushing score for 3 yards on the game’s opening series, the situation soon worsened for the Yellow Jackets when their poor special teams play haunted them as it has thus far.

They allowed their third blocked punt of the season when Cedric Johnson rushed in untouched for a block. That set up Judkins’ romp from 7 yards for a 14-0 lead 5:09 into the game.

Evans capped the visitors’ fifth drive by warding off a pair of defenders and racing 26 yards with 5:36 left in the first half.

Judkins came in and netted his second score on a short run as Ole Miss pushed the advantage to 28-0 at 8:51 of the third.

Bentley tallied twice in the quarter as well as the Yellow Jackets lost their sixth straight against an SEC opponent.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) reacts after an apparent injury while being sacked by Baylor Bears defensive tackle Cole Maxwell (not pictured) during the first half in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral avoids serious injury

Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral received some good news one day after his team lost the Sugar Bowl, when an X-ray confirmed that he merely has a sprained right ankle.

While an MRI still is scheduled to confirm the diagnosis, Corral’s draft status is not expected to be affected.

Corral left the Sugar Bowl on Saturday night with 2:13 remaining in the first quarter after a sack left him with a lower leg injury.

Corral, who was seventh in Heisman Trophy voting, was sacked by Baylor defensive lineman Cole Maxwell on the Rebels’ third series after converting a pair of fourth-down plays to keep the drive alive.

The quarterback clutched at his right ankle, stayed on the turf briefly and eventually left the field on a cart.

Corral, who also injured his ankle on Halloween weekend at Auburn, was replaced by true freshman Luke Altmyer, who threw an interception that was returned for a 96-yard touchdown. Baylor was able to finish off a 21-7 victory.

Corral, who decided against opting out of his final college game, will enter the NFL draft next spring and is projected to be a first-round selection.

Corral rushed seven times for 17 yards and was 2-for-6 passing for 10 yards with an interception before leaving the scoreless game.

He threw for 3,349 yards this season with 20 TDs and five interceptions and passed for more than 8,000 yards in 37 career games for the Rebels, connecting on 57 TDs with 23 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) throws a pass against the Texas A&M Aggies during the first quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Corral, Ole Miss meet Mississippi State in Egg Bowl

With plenty of credit to go around on his potentially record-setting Ole Miss football team, coach Lane Kiffin will turn to his main guy Thursday night in the regular season’s biggest game.

Kiffin will take that quarterback Matt Corral and the rest of the Rebels south to Starkville to play Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, the state’s annual Thanksgiving matchup between the Southeastern Conference rivals.

Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2 SEC) is on the cusp of greatness as the season winds down, with a chance to post the highest regular-season win total in school history.

While the program owns seven career 10-win campaigns — most recently Hugh Freeze’s 10-3 showing in 2015 — all seven featured nine victories in the regular season and win No. 10 in a bowl game.

Kiffin said the Rebels simply would not be in the position they are without the junior signal-caller, who will enter the NFL draft next spring.

“I think I get a lot of credit for coming in here and what’s happened and the change and wins and losses and all that stuff — compared to where it was before,” Kiffin said. “I would argue that he deserves more credit than me for that as the head coach versus the quarterback.

“This guy is there when I’m not even in there — summer workouts. … I think he’s had a lot to do with changing the mindset of the people around here.”

Corral is 233 of 345 for 3,100 yards passing in a season that has vaulted him into the Heisman race.

He has thrown for 19 touchdowns, rushed for 10 and tossed just three interceptions.

Ole Miss owns a 63-46-6 advantage in the longstanding rivalry.

In Starkville, coach Mike Leach witnessed his squad shake off a slow start and start cruising through the air.

“We’re getting better,” Leach said. “We’re a different team than we were early in the season.”

The Bulldogs (7-4, 4-3) opened the season by rallying and holding off Louisiana Tech 35-34 at home.

They lost by a combined five points at Memphis and home against LSU — two winnable games the Bulldogs would love do-overs in.

However, they earned wins in five of the next seven, including an amazing comeback in a 43-34 upset at Auburn in which the Bulldogs reeled off 40 unanswered points.

No player in the nation has put up the numbers Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers has in his past nine outings.

The sophomore has eclipsed 300 passing yards in each contest — more than 400 yards in four of them — during the Bulldogs’ hot streak.

The Brandon, Miss., native is 435-for-572 for 4,113 yards with 34 TD passes and eight interceptions.

“I kind of grew up an Ole Miss fan with my dad going there, my sister went there, so yeah, tables have turned a little bit,” Rogers said. “It’s a huge game because you know what’s at stake.”

Top receiver Makai Polk is 109 yards short of a 1,000-yard season and has nine TDs.

Rebels running back Jerrion Ealy provided the week’s best-bulletin board material in the heated rivalry.

“You’re going to hate the sound of cowbells,” said Ealy, who leads Ole Miss with 643 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. “You’re probably going to hear cowbells for two weeks after the game.

“It’s Stinkville to me. It stinks there. I don’t like mud. It’s just so muddy. I don’t know. I just don’t like it.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Liberty Flames head coach Hugh Freeze walks down the sideline during the first quarter against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss apologizes for Twitter account trolling Hugh Freeze

Officials from Ole Miss apologized for a pair of since-deleted tweets from the school’s official football Twitter account that trolled Hugh Freeze on Saturday following the Rebels’ 27-14 win over Liberty at Oxford, Miss.

The tweets focused on events that occurred during Freeze’s coaching tenure at both Ole Miss and Liberty.

The first read, “If you have complaints about this result, send it to lufootball@liberty.edu. If not, please do not slander these young men or insult their family.”

That reference stems from a tweet from Freeze in 2013 that challenged allegations of NCAA violations. The end result was Ole Miss was placed on probation in 2017 and received a two-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions.

The second tweet from the Ole Miss football account included a picture of Freeze coaching from a hospital bed two years ago while recovering from surgery following a strand of staph infection that complicated a herniated disc in his back.

“These tweets were unfortunate and not who we are in Ole Miss athletics,” Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter told ESPN. “When I found out about them, they were immediately taken down. I have spoken with (Liberty athletic director) Ian McCaw to relay my sincere apology. We will work to do better in the future.”

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin offered his apologies to Freeze and Liberty when informed of the tweets.

“I have no affiliation with the Ole Miss football Twitter site, even though it may sound strange, and I first learned about the tweets after my press conference when Keith Carter told me about them,” Kiffin told ESPN. “I’m completely embarrassed that anyone would put something out there like that making it look like it was a part of Ole Miss football. It was extremely disrespectful, bush league and classless, and I apologize, even though I had nothing to do with it, to Liberty and Hugh Freeze.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA;  Mississippi Rebels running back Jerrion Ealy (9) runs the ball against the Liberty Flames during a play that would result in a touchdown in the first quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 Ole Miss harasses Malik Willis, Liberty, 27-14

Jerrion Ealy rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns and No. 16 Ole Miss’ defense hounded Liberty star quarterback Malik Willis in a 27-14 victory Saturday, spoiling the homecoming of former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze in Oxford, Miss.

The running back found paydirt twice as the Rebels led 24-0 in the first half — one in which the defense sacked Willis seven times.

Ole Miss (7-2) recorded nine sacks and three interceptions of Willis, a high first-round draft projection playing in front of 22 NFL scouts and executives.

He ended up 16-of-25 for 173 yards and rushed 21 times for 71 yards and a 3-yard touchdown.

In the first half, Jaylon Jones recorded his first career interception, and AJ Finley also added a pick of Willis.

For Ole Miss, Matt Corral went 20-of-27 for 324 yards and tossed a scoring pass to Dannis Jackson, who snared six passes for a game-high 126 yards.

John Rhys Plumlee had 110 yards on seven receptions.

An Oxford native and Rebels head coach for five seasons, Freeze resigned in 2017 amid recruiting and personal conduct scandals.

The Flames (7-3) got 101 yards and a score on seven carries from Shedro Lewis. Joshua Mack posted 98 yards on 19 rushes.

In the first meeting between the two schools, the Rebels were an unwelcoming host to their former coach immediately — scoring 17 unanswered points in the game’s first 17 minutes.

On the game’s second play from scrimmage, Ealy made it 7-0 by taking a handoff and racing untouched on a season-long 70-yard dash.

After Liberty’s Brayden Beck missed wide left on a field-goal attempt from 38 yards, Caden Costa pushed Ole Miss’ lead to 10-0 by nailing a 43-yarder.

Ealy’s four-yard run capped a four-play, 58-yard drive as the Rebels tallied for the third time in four series.

Finley’s interception set up the first half’s final score — Corral’s 40-yard pass to Jackson on a crossing route with 1:27 to go to make it 24-0.

Liberty struck on a 75-yard drive to open the second half, with Lewis racing 28 yards for his fourth TD of the season, but Costa answered with a 38-yard field goal for a 27-7 Ole Miss advantage midway through the third quarter.

Willis scored on his 3-yard TD run late in the third quarter as the Flames pulled to within two scores, 27-14.

But Finley sealed the win with his second pick of Willis in the game’s last minute and Liberty deep in Ole Miss territory.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron looks on during the second quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Embattled Ed Orgeron, LSU take on No. 12 Ole Miss

Following a weekend that featured two thrilling wins, LSU and No. 12 Ole Miss will search for normalcy when they square off in Oxford, Miss., on Saturday.

In retrospect, so much in the Louisiana bayou and northern Mississippi has changed over the past 10 months for the SEC West opponents.

Last Dec. 19, on the day Alabama beat Florida in Atlanta for the SEC championship, LSU led Ole Miss 34-21 at halftime and scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:34 left as the Tigers won 53-48 in miserably cold, rainy conditions in Baton Rouge.

But after numerous rumors this season, Tigers coach Ed Orgeron and the school went through a divorce of sorts on Sunday following LSU’s 49-42 home upset of then-No. 20 Florida.

While LSU (4-3, 2-2) should have been basking in the glory of Tyrion Davis-Price’s school-record 287 rushing yards and three touchdowns and the defense’s four-interception effort, Orgeron and the school parting ways led the news.

Just 21 months removed from a 15-0 national championship season anchored by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow and 13 other NFL-bound players, the university agreed to pay the remaining $16.95 million of the six-year coach’s contract and start anew in 2022.

“We’re going to finish,” said Orgeron, 60, who is 5-0 against Ole Miss but 9-8 since winning the 2019 season title. “We’re not going to blink. I’m going to be right there with them.”

After struggling all season to find its running game, LSU amassed 321 yards on the ground as a nearly two-touchdown home underdog against the Gators — averaging 7.1 yards per carry on its 45 rushes.

In the series, LSU has won five straight and six of the past seven against Ole Miss.

The Tigers are 64-41-4 in the 109 career meetings, including an 11-8-1 mark in Oxford.

Coach Lane Kiffin’s Rebels (5-1, 2-1) survived a crazy night in Knoxville — hanging on over six frantic plays at the end by Tennessee to beat the Volunteers 31-26.

Following a lengthy delay after an embarrassing trash-throwing episode by Tennessee fans — UT was fined $250,000 — the defense held on for Ole Miss’ victory.

But after finishing 4-5 in Kiffin’s inaugural campaign, Ole Miss has become one of college football’s best stories by working its way up the polls and standings behind QB Matt Corral — a front-running Heisman candidate — and an explosive offense that churns out 553 yards per game.

The Ventura, Calif., native was outstanding at Rocky Top, earning SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors after accounting for 426 yards — 195 rushing on 30 carries.

He became the first Ole Miss player with 30 carries since BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 33 in 2007.

“I’d like that to be a running back and not our 200-pound quarterback, so he’s not in very good shape. Hasn’t been for two days,” Kiffin said in Monday’s press conference.

Corral moved into third all-time in total offense and passing TDs at Ole Miss, and the junior has scoring throws in 18 straight games.

“He’s one of the top players in the country,” Orgeron said. “He’s very fast, can run the football, throw the football. You can see he plays with his heart and character.

“I’ve been looking at Matt Corral all morning. … Knowing Matt and knowing coach Kiffin, he’s kind of throwing me a smokescreen,” the lame-duck coach quipped of Kiffin’s injury assessment.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels defensive lineman Tavius Robinson (95) grabs the facemark Arkansas Razorbacks running back Raheim Sanders (5) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

No. 17 Ole Miss foils conversion attempt, edges No. 13 Arkansas

Matt Corral’s 68-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Sanders held up as No. 17 Ole Miss thwarted a potential game-winning two-point conversion in a 52-51 win over No. 13 Arkansas on Saturday in Oxford, Miss.

With one second to play, KJ Jefferson tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Warren Thompson. Arkansas elected to go for the win, however Jefferson’s wild throw fell incomplete to hand Ole Miss the victory.

After throwing six interceptions and losing a fumble in last year’s 33-21 loss at Arkansas, Corral was sharp in the rematch. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 287 yards with two touchdowns. He also rushed for two scores.

Henry Parrish Jr. rushed for 111 yards on 18 carries and Snoop Conner had 110 on 12 totes and three touchdowns for the Rebels (4-1, 1-1 SEC), who won for the third time in the last four games in the series. Sanders had 127 receiving yards.

Ole Miss totaled 611 yards of offense and was successful on 4-of-5 fourth-down opportunities.

Jefferson completed 25 of 35 passes for 326 yards with scoring passes to Trey Knox, Treylon Burks (seven catches, 136 yards) and Williams.

Jefferson also ran for three scores for the Razorbacks (4-2, 1-2).

Raheim Sanders rushed for 139 yards on 17 carries, and Trelon Smith scored his ninth touchdown in his past 10 games.

The game marked the first time in FBS play this season with both offenses rushing for over 300 yards. Arkansas had 350 yards rushing, while Ole Miss finished with 324.

Jefferson ran one in and Smith scored on a 14-yard run to put the Razorbacks up 14-6 in the second quarter.

Corral rallied Ole Miss by finding a wide-open Dontario Drummond on a 66-yard strike. The junior then scrambled on a two-point conversion try to forge a tie at 14.

His second score on the ground put Ole Miss ahead for the first time late in the half.

Costa atoned for an earlier conversion miss with a career-long 50-yard field goal on the first series of the second half, but Jefferson answered with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Knox.

A failed fourth-down attempt by the Rebels left the ball on the visitors’ 33, and Cam Little tied it at 24 on a 31-yard boot.

The teams traded scores — Conner’s 51-yard scamper and Jefferson’s 6-yard airborne effort — for a 31-all tie after three quarters.

Conner scored twice, and Burks and Jefferson ran for TDs in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media