"Statement Game" : Ole Miss 41 - Memphis 24 - Game Recap

Derek StephensSenior Analyst IAugust 31, 2008

This was not just a game that the home crowd hoped for a win.  This was a game in which the home crowd expected a blowout.

They got their wish.

Ole Miss defeated Memphis 41-24 Saturday night in front of a crowd of 56,127 in a game that was worse than score indicated. 

When I arrived to see Ole Miss play last night, I was a bit skeptical on my expectations.  I mean, it had been since 2004 since Ole Miss had scored 30 points on a Division 1 opponent.  How could a team get turned around that quick?

After the first series, a quick three and out by the Rebels, I was thinking that the Rebs were still stuck in the Ed Orgeron era, but they looked very solid on offense after that.

As I stated before, Ole Miss hasn't eclipsed the 30 point mark against a D1 opponent since 2004, and Ole Miss almost did that in a half, leading 27-10.

Jevan Snead finished the day with 10 of 22 passing for 185 yards and 2 TDs and 0 INTs.

He connected to Shay Hodge early on a 64 yard touchdown pass and later connected on a 15 yarder.

People said Houston Nutt wouldn't be able to run the Wild Rebel at Ole Miss, and they were humbly proven wrong last night.

Dexter McCluster and Brandon Bolden ran the Wild Rebel effectively as both had great success running under center.  The most unique play was when Bolden came in motion, McCluster handed off to Bolden to the outside and Bolden stepped back and threw to QB Jevan Snead, who lined up at receiver for a 37 yard gain.

Dexter McCluster also ran the Wild Rebel in for a TD from 32 yards out.

McCluster, the all-purpose "do-it-all" guy for the Rebs, finished with 64 yards rushing and also caught 4 passes for 61 yards.

Houston Nutt has explained during the offseason that he would be using a three back workhorse system with junior Cordera Eason and freshmen Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis, and also get in McCluster in with certain situations.

Freshman Devin Thomas and sophomore Derrick Davis also got carries late.

The game was obviously won on the ground as Nutt used these three backs to gain 216 yards through the ground, led by freshman Brandon Bolden with 76 yards on 8 carries and 1 TD.

The defense also looked well without two key players in All-SEC Greg Hardy and Peria Jerry. The secondary looked improved as Kendrick Lewis intercepted a ball thrown in the endzone and Dustin Mouzon also grabbed an INT.

This game means a lot more to Ole Miss fans than the scoreboard indicates.  It was a game that was never really close after the first quarter.  Ole Miss held their own on defense and dominated on offense.  They used variety of sets from the I, to the Shotgun, to the Wild Rebel, to throw the Memphis defense off. 

The play of Jevan Snead was refreshing to Ole Miss fans, who hasn't seen a consistent QB since 2003 with Eli Manning.  Jevan didn't play perfect, but he avoided the mistakes the QBs before him made to cost Ole Miss ballgames. 

In experience, he's about as close to a freshman as it gets, with this being only his second college start, with the other being at Texas.

Next week, the real test lies with Ole Miss as they travel to Winston Salem, NC to play against a top 25 opponent in Wake Forest.  Ole Miss fans believe that this game indicates how much they can expect from Ole Miss this year.

The game will be televised nationally and will start at 3:30 (2:30 CT) on ABC.