Seven turnovers doom Rebels in 33-21 loss to Arkansas

Through three weeks, the Ole Miss offense was among the best in the country while the defense seemed to be the primary concern for Lane Kiffin’s Rebels. The script was flipped in Fayetteville this afternoon as the Razorbacks forced seven Rebel turnovers in a 33-21 victory. 

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral was the second-most efficient player at his position in the entire country — behind only Alabama’s Mac Jones — entering today’s game, making his six interception performance all the more surprising and detrimental to the Rebels’ chances of picking up their second win on the season. His fifth pick proved to be the most costly. Deep in his own territory and trailing 26-21, Corral was picked off by Arkansas LB Grant Morgan, who returned it 23 yards for a pick-six that sealed the Rebels’ fate. 

As bad as the interceptions were, Ole Miss’ offensive output in the red zone may have been worse. The Rebels’ opening drive, a 13-play sequence, ended with a fumbled exchange in the backfield at the Arkansas 1-yard line. The Razorbacks would score on their ensuing possession. Trailing 20-0 at the beginning of the second half, Corral and the Rebels found themselves at the goal line once again only to be denied on four straight attempts. 

Arkansas left the door open for a Rebel comeback throughout the final two quarters, but self-inflicted wounds doomed Ole Miss. After an Elijah Moore touchdown reception got the Rebels on the board late in the 3rd quarter, the defense came up big as a strip-sack of Arkansas QB Felipe Franks had Corral and the offense within striking distance again. On the next snap, Corral was picked off again. In an ugly chain of events, the Razorbacks squandered their good fortune as Jon Haynes stepped in front of a Franks pass to give the Rebels the ball back, but keeping with the theme of the game, Corral, doing his best Nathan Peterman impression, was intercepted again. 

Early in the 4th, the Rebel’s put together their finest drive which was capped by a Jonathan Mingo TD — bringing Ole Miss back to within a score at 20-14. The two teams would trade scores on their next drives (Arkansas failed a 2-pt try) to make the score 26-21.

Ole Miss was lucky to get the ball back after Arkansas RB Rakeem Boyd dropped what would’ve been a surefire first down, but the aforementioned pick-six took the Rebels’ hopes; thus concluding another wild chapter of the series between the Rebels and the Razorbacks that has seen it all in recent years. 

Defensively, Ole Miss’ woes were well-documented coming in, but the unit held its own and was able to get the ball back to a Rebel offense that had its worst game of the season. With two pick-sixes thrown by Corral, the nation’s worst defense only gave up 19 points. 

Today’s win was Arkansas’ first home SEC win since 2016 and they improve to 2-2 under new head coach Sam Pittman. The Rebels fall to 1-3 ahead of next week’s matchup at home against Auburn.