Ole Miss spoils Texas A&M’s SEC title chances
Texas A&M’s remote chances to win the SEC have gone out the window.
Thanks to their upset victory over Alabama earlier in the season, the Aggies still had a chance to win the SEC West as long as they won their final two conference games and the Crimson Tide dropped a game. The first of those games was Saturday night’s trip to Ole Miss.
It did not go as planned for A&M.
Ole Miss turned in an excellent performance and upset the Aggies 29-19 in front of a raucous home crowd in Oxford. The Rebels completely dominated the game in the first half, out-gaining the Aggies 408 yards to just 91.
However, lackluster red zone execution by the Rebels made it just a 15-0 lead going into halftime. That kept the door open for A&M.
Predictably, Jimbo Fisher’s team waged a comeback and cut that lead to 15-13 early in the fourth quarter. But that’s when the wheels fell off for the Aggies — quarterback Zach Calzada in particular.
Calzada was the hero of the Alabama upset, but he struggled mightily in this one. He struggled with accuracy throughout the first half and then threw two costly interceptions in the fourth quarter. Those two turnovers ultimately spelled the end of the Texas A&M comeback as the much-maligned Ole Miss defense turned in an excellent performance.
With the score 15-13, A&M was backed up inside its own 20-yard line when Calzada looked for Demond Demas. A high pass corralled off Demas’ hands and into the arms of Ole Miss linebacker Ashanti Cistrunk. Two plays later, Ole Miss running back Snoop Conner was in the end zone and the Rebels’ lead was 22-13.
And then on the fourth play of the ensuing drive, Calzada threw another pick. This one was brought back 52 yards for a touchdown by Ole Miss’ AJ Finley to extend the lead to 29-13 with 4:50 to play.
The Aggies would add a late touchdown, but it was too little, too late and the Rebels grabbed an impressive victory.
With the win, Ole Miss improved to 8-2 (4-2 SEC) and took sole possession of second place in the SEC West behind Alabama. Texas A&M dropped to 7-3 overall and 4-3 in conference play. And because the Aggies lost, Alabama can now clinch the division if it beats Arkansas next weekend in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama, No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, blew out New Mexico State 59-3 on Saturday to improve to 9-1 on the year. No. 1 Georgia has already clinched the SEC West, so the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide seem destined to square off in an epic SEC championship game in Atlanta.