As if the final score, 41-27 in favor of Mississippi State, who backed up their pregame bravado with performance, wasn't enough, the Bulldogs rubbed salt in the wounds of the Ole Miss coordinators.
The Ole Miss defense of Tyrone Nix, stingy all year, gave up 317 yards rushing and allowed the Bulldogs to control the ball for 37:02 minutes. The Bulldogs didn't pass often, but they made the most of them - 8-14 for 2 scores.
The Ole Miss offense of Kent Austin, that had taken care of the ball beautifully in the past three games - all wins, committed four turnovers, three interceptions and a fumble. A nemesis from earlier in the year came back to haunt the Rebs.
The end result was a one-sided second half, won by the home team 31-14, and an unexpected upset.
"We had our opportunities, but we didn't make plays, and give them credit, they played well on defense," said Austin. "They swarmed the ball and created some turnovers. We only had 11 plays in the first quarter. That was one of the quickest games I have ever been a part of because they ate the clock on the ground and kept our offense off the field."
The turnover bug bit the Rebels, similar to earlier in the season when turning the ball over was the Achilles heel.
"You can't beat anyone in the SEC if you turn the ball over like that," Austin continued. "We were not consistent either. In a hostile environment, you have to be consistent and we didn't get it done. We had gotten away from the turnover problem, but it came back in spades today."
When Ole Miss got behind 34-20 with 10 minutes to go in the game, the Rebs had to take to the airways. Two of the three picks ensued and one was returned for a Bulldog TD.
"We pressed too much when we got behind, but we should be beyond that now. It's all about execution. Just execute, no matter what the score is. We didn't do that when we were trying to come back," Kent stated.
Nix said he was surprised the Bulldog option game gave his squad as much trouble as it did. Option QB Chris Relf ended up with 131 yards, scored one TD and threw for two more.
"Yes, very surprised," said Nix. "We prepared for it, but we sure didn't defend it very well. We didn't tackle well. We didn't play our responsibilities well. We worked it against some quality players on our squad, but we didn't slow it down today."
Numerous times, Relf would fake to the dive back, the Rebel defenders would gang up on the lead back and Relf would keep the ball for consistent gains, moving the chains and keeping drives alive.
After holding State TB Anthony Dixon to 17 yards in the first half, the talented senior pierced the Rebel defense for 116 yards in the second half for a 133 total.
"We missed some tackles at the line of scrimmage and led him get up a head of steam," NIx noted. "With Dixon and Relf both going strong, we tried getting more guys involved in the run game and that's when they hit us for some passes.
"They just outexecuted us today. That's surprising, shocking really, but that is what happened."
Nix felt during pregame the Rebels were ready to play and the first half - with the Rebs up 13-10 at intermission - proved him right, but the second half was a different story.
"They outplayed us in the second half. The guys were ready to play, but we didn't sustain it for the whole game like we have been doing," he explained. "Our tackling was not good, but I want to give them some credit too.
"At times, Mississippi State looked like they wanted it more than we did. Our kids played hard, but at times not as hard as they did."
When you combine an inability to stop the run game, four offensive turnovers and sheer willpower, that's a lot to overcome.
The Rebs got their hats handed to them by the Bulldogs.
And left Austin and Nix perplexed and scratching their heads.
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