Ole Miss Rebounds with Win vs. Texas A&M, Still Controls Its Destiny in SEC West

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 25, 2015

Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell
Ole Miss WR Laquon TreadwellRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

After getting blown out by Florida earlier in the month and then getting worked on the road by Memphis of the American Athletic Conference last week, Ole Miss was down.

It wasn't out, despite injuries to defensive linemen Robert Nkemdiche and Issac Gross, linebacker C.J. Johnson, safety Tony Conner and center Robert Conyers.

With a head-to-head win over Alabama in hand and a game looming Nov. 21 with undefeated LSU, the Rebels entered Saturday night's matchup with Texas A&M in Oxford in control of their own SEC West destiny.

To celebrate, they controlled the game for a full 60 minutes in a 23-3 win over the Aggies.

Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

Quarterback Chad Kelly threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell hauled in five passes for 102 yards and a score, and the Rebels defense was all over Aggies quarterback Kyle Allen.

Just how good was that defense?

The normally explosive Aggies offense managed just 192 yards, Allen completed just 12 of his 34 passes before being benched and the Aggies rushed for only 58 yards on the night.

The strong defensive showing was something Ole Miss desperately needed.

Head coach Hugh Freeze admitted after the game that mounting injuries took a toll on his Rebels, according to Courtney Cronin of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger:

I'd say that confidence is now restored.

The win is a huge boost to a Rebels team that desperately needed something good to break its way after a tough month of October.

It also should give them a boatload of confidence heading into a stretch run that sets up well for the Rebels (6-2, 3-1 SEC) to potentially push for their first-ever SEC Championship Game appearance.

They travel to Auburn next week for a noon tilt against a 4-3 Tigers team that, while better than they were in early October, is hardly intimidating. Plus, a hangover could be in order for Gus Malzahn's crew after losing a four-overtime heartbreaker at Arkansas on Saturday afternoon.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze
Ole Miss head coach Hugh FreezeRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

Then the Hogs come to Oxford, followed by a bye and another home game against LSU.

Can you say "SEC game of the year"?

Whatever the outcome of LSU's game against Alabama, the Magnolia Bowl could be huge for the College Football Playoff, SEC West and New Year's Six races.

Ole Miss, though, could also be the worst enemy of its own conference.

If the Rebels win out and claim the SEC title, that road loss to Memphis could play a huge factor in whether the conference gets a team in the College Football Playoff. Not only could the undefeated Tigers be a roadblock for the Rebels, but the Rebels could be a roadblock for Alabama if the Crimson Tide run the table. After all, Ole Miss would have an SEC title and a straight-up victory over Alabama in its back pocket.

As Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated noted on Twitter, things could get sketchy for the SEC if Ole Miss gets hot:

Ole Miss isn't going to worry about that right now.

For now, it looks like the team that went into Alabama in mid-September and shocked the Crimson Tide.

Is it flawed? Of course.

The Rebels still struggle to run between the tackles, and many of the injury concerns will linger into next week and beyond.

Show me a team in college football that isn't flawed, and I'll show you a unicorn. They simply don't exist.

Welcome back to contention again, Ole Miss. It's like you never left.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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