Saturday October 4th, 2014

Ole Miss notched one of its biggest wins in program history on Saturday. The No. 11 Rebels came alive late to rally past No. 3 Alabama 23-17 in Oxford, Miss.

Here are three thoughts from the thrilling SEC West showdown:

1. Ole Miss owned the fourth quarter

The Rebels went into the break trailing 14-3, but they sprung to life when it mattered most, especially in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Bo Wallace and the offense outscored the Crimson Tide 20-3 after intermission, a stretch that included two Wallace touchdown passes in the final six minutes.

Defense and special teams came into play, too. Ole Miss set up its final score by forcing and recovering a Christion Jones fumble on a key fourth-quarter kickoff return. After Alabama regained possession following a Jaylen Walton touchdown that put Ole Miss up by six points, Rebels defensive back Senquez Golson picked off Blake Sims in the end zone. The interception sealed Ole Miss’ win.

Bama’s offense had appeared lethal through the season’s first five weeks, but an Ole Miss defense that allowed 8.5 points per game entering Saturday did its job.

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2. Alabama quarterback Blake Sims couldn’t get going

Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin helped Sims emerge as a major threat under center this fall. But Ole Miss limited Sims in his first true road test.

Sims went 19 of 31 for 228 yards. He had thrown eight touchdown passes in the last three games, but he didn’t find the end zone through the air in this one. The senior completed three passes to move the Tide 55 yards on Bama’s final drive, but he forced a pass into tight coverage, producing Golson's game-clinching pick.

This was Sims’ biggest challenge to date. He couldn't deliver.

3. Ole Miss is for real

Any doubts about the Rebels entering this weekend have been erased. Ole Miss toppled the Crimson Tide on a national stage. This is the kind of win that coach Hugh Freeze must have dreamed about when he took over this program before the 2012 season.

Moving forward, the Rebels will look to build on their momentum. Plenty of key matchups remain in the SEC West, including games against Texas A&M (Oct. 11), LSU (Oct. 25) and Auburn (Nov. 1). The Egg Bowl against Mississippi State (Nov. 29) could have College Football Playoff implications. For years, Ole Miss couldn’t seem to take the next step. Now, unquestionably, it has.

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