Nov 25, 2021; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the fourth quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Baylor faces No. 8 Ole Miss in compelling Sugar Bowl matchup

With the NFL looming on the horizon, Matt Corral gets one final chance to quarterback Ole Miss.

After leading the Rebels to a 10-2 record following a season-ending 31-21 Egg Bowl win over Mississippi State, Corral and the No. 8 Rebels will face No. 7 Baylor in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s night.

In one of the more intriguing New Year’s Day Six bowls, Corral decided to play for the Rebels – who opened as a two-point betting favorite — after announcing before the Egg Bowl that he would enter the 2022 NFL Draft.

His presence will allow head coach Lane Kiffin and outgoing offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby – headed to Oklahoma — another chance to produce numbers that slotted the Rebels fourth in total offense (506.7 yards per game) – 282.4 passing, 224.2 rushing.

One of only four FBS quarterbacks with 20 passing touchdowns and at least 10 rushing scores (he has 11), the Ventura, Calif., native finished seventh in Heisman Trophy voting.

“It never crossed my mind” to sit out the game, Corral said. “I’m healthy … I’m going to give these guys everything I got until it’s over.”

Ole Miss is the nation’s only offense with four rushers with at least 500 yards – Jerrion Ealy (703), Snoop Conner (605), Corral (597) and Henry Parrish Jr. (542).

Explosive defensive lineman Sam Williams, who set a school record with 12.5 sacks, will also play for Ole Miss, which has no opt-outs for the New Orleans classic.

The Rebels sport a 6-3 record in the Sugar Bowl, including a 48-20 victory over Oklahoma State after the 2015 season.

Ole Miss is 12-2 in its past 14 bowl games dating back to the 1992 Liberty Bowl and 10-4 in bowls against current Big 12 members.

A second-year head coach at his current school like Kiffin, Dave Aranda has built Baylor (11-2) into a hard-nosed team that played strong defense, ran the ball well and got consistent quarterback play on the way to claiming its third Big 12 title in a 21-16 win over Oklahoma State in Dallas on Dec. 4.

That stout defense and a strong running game behind Abram Smith (1,429 yards, 12 TDs) and Trestan Ebner (763 yards) will be key to controlling the pace for Baylor, which is making its second Sugar Bowl appearance in three years after losing 26-14 to Georgia two seasons ago.

In its only other Sugar Bowl appearance — at Tulane Stadium in 1957 — Baylor pulled off a 13-7 upset of No. 2 Tennessee, which was undefeated and led by Heisman runner-up Johnny Majors.

Tied with Iowa for 14th in scoring defense, Baylor yields 19.15 points, while Corral and crew score 36 per outing.

“I think it’s a good contrast in styles, and we’re looking forward to that challenge,” said Aranda, who was LSU’s first-year defensive coordinator in 2016 when Kiffin was Alabama’s offensive coordinator in a 10-0 Crimson Tide win.

Out for two games with a hamstring injury, quarterback Gerry Bohanon is healthy and will lead the Baylor offense.

Aranda said Monday that backup Blake Shapen, who relieved Bohanon in a win over Kansas State and was triumphant in two subsequent starts including the Big 12 title game, has a shoulder injury and likely will not play.

The contest marks just the second all-time meeting between the schools: Baylor won 20-10 at home on Sept. 6, 1975.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Devon Achane (6) runs the ball against Mississippi Rebels defensive back Otis Reese (3) during the third quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Ole Miss hopes to impose defensive will against Vanderbilt

Ole Miss has made its name on offense, but on Saturday the Rebels looked more like the dominant defensive team they would like to see across from them in Atlanta next month — No. 1 Georgia.

The No. 12 Rebels will try to bring the same shutdown defense they used in a 29-19 win over Texas A&M last weekend when they host Vanderbilt on Saturday night in their final home game of the season in Oxford, Miss.

With two more Southeastern Conference games left — they finish at rival Mississippi State –the Rebels’ only chance to get the SEC Championship Game is if their neighbors in Tuscaloosa stumble twice.

Alabama closes with Saturday’s home game against Arkansas and at rival Auburn, with the No. 2 Crimson Tide having a slim likelihood of losing twice.

But if Ole Miss (8-2, 4-2) is victorious in its last two and puts together its best regular season since 2015, the chances are still good coach Lane Kiffin’s squad will play in a New Year’s Six contest.

The Rebels’ yeoman effort against the then-No. 11 Aggies was undeniably impressive: They kept the visitors off the board for the first 34:57 of the game.

With the Aggies staging a fourth-quarter rally, the secondary snagged two interceptions of Zach Calzada: Ashanti Cistrunk’s to set up a score and AJ Finley’s 52-yard pick-six that chalked the game up in the win column.

“I wouldn’t really say it was a schematic thing because we’ve been doing the same things defensively, but I think we came together and got closer,” Finley said. “We took it kind of personally to improve our defense as a whole.”

Ole Miss ran 93 plays to the Aggies’ 70 and outgained them 504-378 in yardage, with the first half being extremely one-sided.

Sam Williams has set a school record with 10.5 sacks on Ole Miss’ three-man defensive front — at least one in eight of the 10 games played.

“I don’t think there’s a defensive lineman that has played as many snaps as him in the country,” Kiffin said. “It has been unbelievable. He has games in the 60s and 70s. He’s been a warrior for us.”

Kicker Caden Costa, who has made 13 of 16 field goal attempts, including all eight inside 40 yards, was named SEC Freshman of the Week after drilling two against the Aggies.

Mired in the SEC East’s basement under first-year head coach Clark Lea, Vanderbilt (2-8, 0-6) has lost five straight — all conference games — and has not won since a last-second field goal by Joseph Bulovas beat UConn 30-28 on Oct. 2.

The Commodores fell behind by four touchdowns in the first half against Kentucky, eventually losing 34-17, last Saturday.

Against the Wildcats’ defense, Ken Seals struggled — completing 12 of 17 passes for just 87 yards and tossing one interception.

Seals, who missed the three previous games with an injured finger, was replaced by Mike Wright to start the second half.

Wright completed all but four of his 11 passes. He tossed a pair of 8-yard scoring TDs to Chris Pierce Jr. and Amir Abdur-Rahman.

“Ken got hurt in the first half. We’ve got to get a feel for the extent of the injury,” Lea said. “I don’t feel it necessary right now to project who will be starting next week.”

Ole Miss is 53-36-2 all-time against the Commodores, who have dropped 19 consecutive SEC games and two straight in this series, which includes a 54-21 loss in 2020.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers wide receiver Kobe Hudson (5) is tackled by Mississippi Rebels defensive back Deane Leonard (24) during the first quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Bo Nix leads No. 18 Auburn past No. 10 Ole Miss

Bo Nix rushed for two touchdowns and passed for one as host No. 18 Auburn defeated No. 10 Ole Miss 31-20 in an SEC game Saturday night.

Nix completed 22-of-30 passes for 276 yards for the Tigers (6-2, 3-1 SEC), who remained tied in the loss column with idle No. 3 Alabama for the West division lead.

Tank Bigsby added 140 rushing yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.

Matt Corral ran for a touchdown and passed for 289 yards but did not have a touchdown pass for the Rebels (6-2, 3-2), who fell into a three-way tie for third place in the West. Corral completed 21 of 37 passes and threw one interception, just his second of the season.

Jahcour Pearson caught seven passes for 135 yards to lead an injury-depleted Rebels receiving corps.

Caden Costa’s 49-yard field goal produced the only points of the third quarter and got Ole Miss within 28-20. The Rebels turned the ball over on downs at the Tigers’ 20 and 13 in the period.

Anders Carlson, who missed a 43-yard field goal in the third quarter, made a 28-yarder to increase the lead to 31-20 with 10:52 remaining in the game.

Ole Miss reached a first down at the Auburn 14 early in the fourth quarter, but Jaylin Simpson intercepted Corral in the end zone.

The Rebels got the ball back on a fumble recovery, but Corral threw an interception on fourth-and-3 at the Tigers 18 with 4:42 left.

Nix concluded the first possession of the game with an 11-yard touchdown run.

Costa kicked a 29-yard field goal before Bigsby ran one yard for a touchdown that gave the Tigers a 14-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Snoop Conner’s 13-yard touchdown run pulled the Rebels within 14-10.

Nix ran seven yards for a touchdown and Corral answered with an 11-yard touchdown run.

A nine-yard touchdown pass from Nix to Jarquez Hunter gave Auburn a 28-17 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Brett Favre said trying to connect with new teammates may be difficult for Tom Brady amid COVID-19.

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Brett Favre repays Mississippi welfare funds

Brett Favre paid back the $600,000 to the state of Mississippi, an amount he previously accepted for speeches he never gave.

However, the state auditor is still demanding that the Hall of Fame quarterback pay an additional $228,000 in interest.

Favre was commissioned in 2017 and 2018 to promote a state poverty-fighting initiative, receiving $1.1 million. The State Auditor’s Office reported that he initially gave back $500,000 of the amount, but earlier this month, Favre was asked in a letter to repay the remainder plus interest.

The letter stated, “The sum demanded represents illegal expenditures of public funds made to you or to entities or combines for which you are legally obligated to pay and/or the unlawful dispositions of public property, including public funds, made with you or with entities or combines for which you are legally responsible to pay.

“These illegal expenditures and unlawful dispositions were made when you knew or had reason to know through the exercise of reasonable diligence that the expenditures were illegal and/or the dispositions were unlawful.”

Favre made the $600,000 payment this week.

If he does not repaid the interest amount, the state is prepared to sue him, according to multiple media reports.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels running back Jerrion Ealy (9) carries the ball during the first half against the LSU Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Corral paces No. 12 Ole Miss past LSU

Heisman Trophy hopeful Matt Corral shook off a slow start by scoring one of his team’s three rushing touchdowns and throwing for another as No. 12 Ole Miss posted a 31-17 victory over SEC West foe LSU on Saturday in Oxford, Miss.

Questionable to play after a gutsy, 30-carry effort at Tennessee in a 31-26 win last week, Corral led the Rebels (6-1, 3-1 SEC) to three straight scores in the first half and another early in the second.

In winning their third straight contest, the Rebels broke a five-game losing streak versus LSU — all against lame duck head coach Ed Orgeron.

The junior passer finished 18 of 23 for 185 yards without an interception. His TD pass to tight end Casey Kelly extended Corral’s streak of consecutive games with at least one to 19 — three shy of Chad Kelly’s school record.

Corral rushed for 24 yards and a score and caught a 19-yard pass from wideout Dontario Drummond.

Snoop Conner produced a game-high 117 yards on 14 carries, and Jerrion Ealy and Henry Parrish Jr. notched touchdowns.

LSU’s offense — which rushed for 321 yards in a 49-42 home upset of then-No. 20 Florida last week — was held to 77 on 35 carries.

Max Johnson went 13-of-21 passing for 146 yards with an interception, and Tyrion Davis-Price rushed for a TD for the Tigers (4-4, 2-3).

Garrett Nussmeier relieved Johnson and was 7-of-12 passing for 103 yards and a touchdown.

In the first quarter, Johnson took the Tigers 90 yards on nine plays for a 7-0 lead, with Davis-Price — who rushed for a school-record 287 yards against the Gators — capping it with a 1-yard plunge.

Following Tysheem Johnson’s first interception this season, inside the Ole Miss 1, the Rebels went 74 yards over 13 plays, culminating with Cade Costa splitting the uprights from 43 yards with 10:44 left in the second quarter.

Corral found Kelly from 2 yards out for the Rebels’ first lead — diving into the red end zone with MANNING painted on it, honoring former star quarterback Eli Manning.

Corral’s 3-yard TD run pushed the lead to 17-7 late in the half as Ole Miss scored on its last three possessions after its first two drives ended quickly in punts.

Parrish and Ealy both rushed for scores in the third — from 5 yards and 36, respectively — as the Rebels led 31-7.

Cade York’s 47-yard field goal and Nussmeier’s 9-yard strike to Malik Nabers rounded out the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Brian Robinson Jr. (4) carries the ball against the Mississippi Rebels during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Robinson Jr. runs wild as No. 1 Alabama routs No. 12 Ole Miss

Brian Robinson Jr. set career-highs with 171 yards rushing and four touchdowns, Bryce Young tossed two scoring passes and top-ranked Alabama stymied one of the nation’s top offenses Saturday in a 42-21 win over No. 12 Ole Miss in SEC play at Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Behind a stout defense, the Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) built a four-touchdown lead in the first half — capitalizing on three turnovers on downs and a fumble — to gain early control of the West Division matchup.

Young, a sophomore, went 21-of-27 passing for 241 yards with one interception. Robinson rushed 36 times for his first-ever 100-yard game.

Alabama moved to 56-10-2 all-time in the series.

Ole Miss (3-1, 0-1) came into the game leading the nation in total offense (635.3 yards per game), but quarterback Matt Corral and his squad struggled as the offense produced 291 total yards.

Entering the Heisman Trophy discussion after his first three games, Corral was held to a 21-for-29 outing for 213 yards and a touchdown to Chase Rogers. The quarterback also rushed for a score.

The Rebels played fearlessly in the first half — attempting five fourth-down conversions — but failure on three of the risky decisions put them in a hole.

On the game’s first series, the Rebels converted two fourth-down plays in a 17-play drive. But Crimson Tide lineman Tim Smith stuffed Jerrion Ealy on Ole Miss’ third attempt at the Alabama 6-yard line.

On the ensuing drive, Young stepped up into the pocket and finished a 14-play, 94-yard drive with a 16-yard strike to John Metchie III.

After another stop of the visitors on fourth down at the Ole Miss 47, Robinson burst through on Alabama’s first fourth-down attempt for a 1-yard score and a 14-0 lead with 12:14 left in the second quarter.

Following a third turnover on downs at the Ole Miss 31, Alabama went for it again near the goal line. Young then connected on a play-action pass to Cameron Latu for a 3-yard touchdown and a three-score advantage.

Robinson added another 1-yard score with 57 seconds left in the half after a fumble recovery by Justin Eboigbe.

In the second half after Robinson’s third tally, Corral rushed in from 10 yards to put the Rebels on the board. Robinson added a fourth-quarter score.

Snoop Conner’s run and Rogers’ reception rounded out the Ole Miss scoring.

–Field Level Media

Oct 12, 2019; Columbia, MO, USA; A general view of a Mississippi Rebels helmet during the game against the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss fires O-line coach Randy Clements

Ole Miss fired offensive line coach and running game coordinator Randy Clements on Tuesday, three days after the Rebels held their spring game.

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin made the announcement after numerous outlets reported the story in the morning.

“After meeting with Coach Clements, it was determined that it’s in the best interest of both sides to part ways,” Kiffin said in a statement. “We’re grateful to Coach for the job he did for our team over the past year, and we wish him and his family the very best moving forward.”

Clements, who has spent 30 years as a coach, joined Kiffin in Oxford after the former was named head coach in December 2019. Prior to that, Clements spent one season at Florida State.

According to ESPN, the decision to fire Clements was based on football and not any off-field issues.

Ole Miss led the SEC in rushing yards last season at 210.6 yards per game and its 19 sacks allowed were tied for fourth-fewest in the conference.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2020; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Ole Miss Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin prior to the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss pausing activities through Wednesday

Ole Miss will not resume football activities until Dec. 9 at the earliest due to a “few new positive COVID-19 cases being identified each day,” the school announced Friday.

The Rebels have been on pause since Wednesday.

“This seven-day suspension is in the best interest of student-athlete and staff safety and came after consulting with the MSDH (Mississippi State Department of Health),” read the school statement. “Testing will continue during this period, and the appropriate health measures will be taken for those student-athletes and staff members affected by the virus.”

First-year head coach Lane Kiffin’s squad is 4-4 following Saturday’s 31-24 Egg Bowl win against Mississippi State.

Ole Miss originally was scheduled to play LSU this weekend, but the Tigers instead are facing No. 1 Alabama in a makeup game for a Nov. 14 contest that was postponed.

The Rebels still are expected to make up that game and a game against Texas A&M, though neither contest has been rescheduled yet.

“Department leadership will remain in talks with the Southeastern Conference on the effects of this suspension on the scheduling of upcoming games,” the school said in Friday’s statement.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin wears a mask with the word vote printed on the front during the first half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss pauses activities due to COVID-19

Ole Miss canceled football activities Wednesday due to COVID-19 concerns.

“Out of abundance of caution, Ole Miss Football has canceled Wednesday’s team activities to conduct contact tracing surrounding a small number of positive COVID-19 tests among players and staff,” read a statement from the program. “Practice is scheduled to resume Thursday, pending the outcome of additional tests. The student-athletes and staff affected are taking appropriate safety measures in accordance with university protocol.”

First-year head coach Lane Kiffin’s Rebels are 4-4 following Saturday’s 31-24 Egg Bowl win against Mississippi State.

Ole Miss was scheduled to play LSU this weekend, but the Tigers are instead facing No. 1 Alabama in a make-up game for a Nov. 14 contest that was postponed.

The Rebels are still expected to make up that game and a game against Texas A&M, though neither have been rescheduled yet.

–Field Level Media

Oct 24, 2020; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin and Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) during the second half against the Auburn Tigers  at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss looks to rebound against winless Vanderbilt

Mississippi and Vanderbilt each will attempt to snap a three-game losing streak when they meet Saturday afternoon in Nashville, Tenn.

Ole Miss (1-4, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) leads the overall series 50-40-2, but the teams have traded victories beginning in 2015, and each has won eight of the past 16 meetings.

However, there was nothing close about their previous meeting. The Rebels rushed for 413 yards and 9.4 yards per carry in walloping the Commodores 31-6 in Oxford, Miss., a season ago.

The Ole Miss offense is under different management this year in coach Lane Kiffin, and the Rebels are averaging 34.8 points and 521 yards per game. They racked up 462 yards in a 35-28 loss to Auburn last week.

“Very disappointing game,” Kiffin said this week, referring to the defeat. “Really slow start, offensively especially. Screwed up a ton of things ourselves, and some freak things happened, too.”

Kiffin was particularly unhappy with starting quarterback Matt Corral, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. He also had 10 carries for 88 yards and two touchdowns.

“It was a bad film,” Kiffin said of Corral’s performance. “Sometimes you just get bad luck, balls are tipped and things like that. This was just — he played really poorly.

“They did a great job reading his eyes, and he was trying to do no-look passes where he’s holding one guy off. The problem is, he can’t see the other guy while he’s doing that.”

The Rebels’ biggest problem, however, is a defense that allows 44.6 points and 556 yards per game. The test gets much easier this week: Vanderbilt (0-3, 0-3) has scored just 26 points this season and averages 257 yards per game. Neither Vanderbilt’s leading rusher nor leading receiver has a total of 150 yards.

The Commodores are happy just to be preparing for a game.

Vanderbilt has not played since getting routed 41-7 by South Carolina on Oct. 10. A COVID-19 outbreak resulted in the postponement of the Missouri game, which had been set for Oct. 17 and has been rescheduled for Dec. 12.

The Commodores now face seven consecutive games without a bye week.

Coach Derek Mason used the time off to get some reps for inexperienced players, as a number of starters missed practice time due to quarantine or injuries. He is hoping to se a stronger squad as a result.

“Our football team is slowly but surely starting to look the part,” Mason said Tuesday.

Vanderbilt pins its hopes on a defense that forced three turnovers against Texas A&M in the season opener on Sept. 26, a 17-12 road loss. However, the Commodores haven’t been competitive since, falling 41-7 to LSU the next week.

Vanderbilt’s best chance may be getting defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo (2.5 sacks, six hurries) and edge rusher Andre Mintze (one sack, two hurries) to Corral, who has been intercepted nine times this season.

Ole Miss has lost on each of its past two visits to Nashville.

–Field Level Media