By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss Rebels fell in a heartbreaker to the LSU Tigers 53-48 in Death Valley on Saturday.
Ole Miss (4-5) overcame a 34-21 halftime deficit in a downpour of rain, almost pulling off a win over the Tigers, but a fumble on the winning drive ended the team’s chances to defeat the defending National Champions.
“It is a tough one to handle, ”Head Coach Lane Kiffin said. “We had them on the ropes, obviously… So it’s really tough to deal with just because things were aligned so well.”
Coming into the night, the Rebels had not played in a game in almost three weeks. The team saw its matchup against Texas A&M canceled twice as COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the regular-season schedule.
Kiffin felt the time spent away from the field may have contributed to Saturday’s loss.
“We hadn’t played in three weeks, and I think you saw that early on,” Kiffin said. “We looked really rusty, especially after the first series on offense.”
The possibility of ending the season 5-4 made this loss an especially frustrating one for Kiffin. Despite turning the ball over six times, Ole Miss managed to stay ahead of the Tigers for the majority of the fourth quarter, making LSU’s final touchdown a hard pill to swallow.
Ole Miss was without critical players Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah for its final regular-season game. The wide receiver and tight end decided to forgo the final games of the season in order to prepare for the NFL Draft.
“In the pass game, I would have expected us to have better numbers. That was their weakness, they were really struggling on defense and the back end,” Kiffin said.
Missed opportunities throughout the game seemed even more glaring by the fact that opt-outs due to COVID-19 and an empty stadium at LSU are a set of circumstances that almost certainly will not be seen again.
Now, just “playing hard” is no longer enough for Kiffin. The head coach stated in his post-game press conference that while he could list the achievements of players during the game, none of them matter if they cannot win games.
“We’ve been here now too long for that,” Kiffin said.
Despite that sentiment, there were some notable achievements from Saturday’s game.
Henry Parrish carried the ball 16 times for 82 yards and found pay dirt twice. The freshman stepped up after running back Jerrion Ealy was injured during the third quarter.
Although Ole Miss may not have beat LSU, the team will still make its way to a bowl game for the first time in five years.
Which bowl game the Rebels will find themselves in to finish out the 2020 season will be announced on Sunday, Dec. 20.