As fans piled out of Vaught Hemingway Stadium last weekend in Oxford, Mississippi at halftime, there was no way they could have known what they would miss in the second half.
With the Rebels holding a 31-10 halftime lead, the fans had no reason to believe this wouldn’t be another blowout of a FCS underdog. “Not so fast” said the Gamecocks from Jacksonville, Alabama. But not even Lee Corso could have picked this upset; however, an FCS underdog over an SEC squad that had finished the past two season in the nation’s top 25 poll. The Gamecock’s would go on to defeat the Rebels 49-48 in double OT.
Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt said after the game that this was the worst loss of his career.
Nutt was criticized after the game by many people who thought he took his foot off the gas offensively, in the second half because of his relationship with Gamecock’s head coach, Jack Crowe.
Coach Crowe is no stranger to big upsets; the only difference is last time he was on the other side.
Crowe was coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks in 1992 when they unexpectedly lost to the Citadel. The game would ultimately cost Crowe his job. “If you stay in this long enough, it goes both ways,” said Crowe following the Gamecock’s victory.
The Rebels lost a 21 point halftime lead, marking the biggest comeback in Jacksonville State’s history.
The Rebels struggled on defense, especially in the second half and overtime. The tying touchdown in overtime for the Gamecocks came on a 4th and 15 from the Ole Miss 30 yard line when true freshman QB Coty Blanchard was able to avoid the Ole Miss rush and hurl a ball to the corner of the end zone, past three defenders for the touchdown. Blanchard would then complete a shovel pass to the running back Calvin Middleton on the two point conversion and the game-winning play for the Gamecocks.
Tyrone Nix’s defense, which is usually one of the top in the SEC, faltered against Jacksonville State. All-American defensive tackle Jerrell Powe had a quiet game with only two tackles, as the Gamecocks rushed passed him for over 100 yards. Transfer defensive end Wayne Dorsey was unable to fill the void left when Kentrell Lockett was sidelined, only recording one tackle.
The offense wasn’t too much better, particularly in the second half, as the Rebels had 3 turnovers compared to none for the Gamecocks.
Ole Miss hasn’t been the only team to falter against FCS opponents in the opening weeks of college football, however. Turner Gill and his Kansas Jayhawks dropped their opener against North Dakota State last week. And Frank Beemer and his Virginia Tech Hokies, fresh off Monday’s loss to Boise State, fell to James Madison today, while Minnesota lost to South Dakota State.
Ole Miss will look to address some of the issues they had against Jacksonville State, today as they travel to the Big Easy to face Tulane.
The Green Wave took down Southeastern Louisiana last weekend in the Superdome, 27-21
The big question coming into the game will be who gets the nod at starting QB for Ole Miss. If last week’s game is any indication, we could see newcomer Jerimiah Masoli and sophomore Nathan Stanley split drives. Last week’s top performer through the air was Stanley, completing 6 out of 10 passes for 133 yards and 3 touchdowns. This was compared to Masoli completing 7 out of 10 passes for 109 yards and 1 interception. The former Oregon quarterback also rushed 5 times for a total of 29 yards. And while he isn’t likely to start or even get much playing time, there is a lot of hype over junior college transfer Randall Mackey.
The game kicks off from the Superdome at 8PM CT and will be broadcast on ESPNU.