NOTEBOOK: Rebels trying to ‘stay hungry’ as SEC title hopes fade away
Published 6:02 am Sunday, November 8, 2015
Ole Miss had to turn in a clean sheet the rest of way if it wanted to realistically book a trip to Atlanta for their first Southeastern Conference Championship Game appearance.
The Rebels were unable to do so.
Saturday’s overtime loss to Arkansas put a damper on what was still shaping up to be a promising season for the Rebels.
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Two losses already had the Rebels, who were once ranked as high as No. 3, feeling it was going to be an outside shot to make it to the College Football Playoff, but the carrot of the SEC title game was still being dangled in front of them.
To make sure they got there, they had to go 3-0 their final three games. With every championship goal all but being washed away on a rainy Saturday afternoon, the only thing left the Rebels have to play for is a better bowl game and pride with LSU and the Egg Bowl still looming over the next three weeks.
“As a family, we are all in this together,” quarterback Chad Kelly said. “We just have to regroup and stay hungry.”
Motivation will be tested for an Ole Miss group that had its control of its destiny snatched away by Arkansas. There is still a way for Ole Miss to make it to Atlanta, but it requires a lot of outside help.
The biggest factor is to win the final two games of the season, beginning with LSU in two weeks after the bye week.
“The season is not over yet,” Kelly said. “We still have more games to play and keep on playing hard.”
Kelly’s big game
On a day where offense was key, Kelly made sure the Rebels did their part.
The Ole Miss signal caller had 478 total yards and was the leading rusher with 110 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns. During a streak of eight straight combined possessions where each team was trading body blow after body blow, Kelly kept his team in it. He avoided three blitzezs by the Razorbacks’ defense that resulted in runs of 19 and 22 yards on two of them.
His 368 yards through the air made for his seventh 300-yard passing game, extending his single-season record.
“I was just taking what the defense gave us,” Kelly said. “There was holes to be ran through, and we took advantage of it.”
After sustaining a meniscus injury during the Alabama game, defensive back Tony Conner made his return to the field Saturday. It was his first action since Sept. 19.
He did not miss a beat, totaling four tackles with two of them solo and combining on a tackle of Alex Collins with C.J. Johnson for a loss of 2 yards.
Chad Kelly threw a touchdown pass in his 10th straight game, which is fourth-most in school history. … Laquon Treadwell had a school-record fifth straight game with more than 100 yards receiving with 132 yards and a touchdown. … Ole Miss dropped to 6-8 overall in overtime games and 0-2 under Hugh Freeze.