Rebels End 2020 Season with an Egg Bowl Win and 4-4 Record
In the middle of the obvious changes to the Ole Miss football experience—a quarter-filled, socially distanced Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, only South Eastern Conference opponents, and postponed games—the Rebels also welcomed new leadership at the start of the 2020 season. Head coach Lane Kiffin signed a four year contract back in December of 2019, months before the coronavirus pandemic changed the game.
The 2020 season was limited to only SEC opponents, however fans have yet to see the Rebels take on both Texas A&M and Louisiana State University (LSU), which have both been postponed to later dates due to coronavirus exposures. It is currently unknown if or when these games will take place. While only 25% of the stadium could be filled, cheering fans flocked in each Saturday there was a home game.
The Rebels ended the season with a 4-4 record, exceeding expectations against an all-conference schedule. Kiffin celebrated his first win after the second home game when the Rebels narrowly defeated Kentucky 42-41. Additionally, their performance against undefeated Alabama was notable as well. The Crimson Tide trailed the Rebels the entire first half, and the game remained close until the very end of the fourth quarter. Despite the loss, their determination and strength was stunning. However, the Egg Bowl win was arguably the highlight of this season. Following last year’s loss against their biggest rival, Mississippi State, the Rebels fought hard to bring the trophy back to Oxford.
“It’s great to come across with a win,” Kiffin said in his post-game interview. “I’m happy for our fans, happy for our players. Thank God that he gave us a chance to play. A lot of people aren’t getting a chance to play. I reminded our players of that this morning after church. It’s good to get the trophy back where it belongs and let’s keep it there for a long time.”
Overall, the offensive side of Kiffin’s team looked excellent, while the defense proved to be the problem area. Poor tackling ability and coverage schemes often allowed opponents to complete big scoring plays. Junior quarterback Matt Corral held the spotlight much of this season as he excelled under Kiffin’s new offensive approach. He was able to showcase his exceptional running ability and strong arm with more down-the-field plays. Corral threw a total of 2,744 yards this season, and now holds the Ole Miss record for most passing yards thrown in a single game (513 yards against South Carolina).
Other standout players this season included junior wide receiver Elijah Moore and sophomore running back Jerrion Ealy. Moore achieved a 91 yard touchdown against South Carolina that resulted in Coach Kiffin’s now infamous clipboard toss. Ealy rushed 701 yards for the Rebels and scored nine touchdowns in the eight games played.
Overall, the new team under Lane Kiffin looks promising. As he has more time to work with the defense and begin recruiting, there is no doubt his team will be stacked and strong in the coming years. It is definitely a team to keep a close eye on as they continue to develop and hopefully bring home championship titles.
Photos by Billy Schuerman