Any hope Ole Miss had of reaching the College Football Playoff this year likely ended Saturday, as the Rebels were upset by Memphis 37-24.
The turning point in the game seemed to come when Mississippi star defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche left the field after taking a huge hit while playing offense, via ESPN's official Twitter:
Nkemdiche suffered a concussion, per ESPN.com's Alex Scarborough, and did not return. As for why Mississippi head coach Hugh Freeze was using Nkemdiche in a spot like that, Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee provided an answer:
Ole Miss held a 14-7 lead at that point and was moving the ball against the Tigers defense, but once Nkemdiche was out, the tide turned.
Not surprisingly, as noted by Geoff Calkins of the Commercial Appeal, Freeze's use of Nkemdiche is not likely to be received well:
While it's true this isn't the first time Freeze has used Nkemdiche as a runner—the junior had two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown coming into Saturday—leaving your best defensive weapon in a spot to take additional hits is not smart.
It's especially problematic for Nkemdiche because he has the potential to be one of the first picks in April's draft, so any injury he sustains, let alone a concussion, could hurt his draft stock.
Another problem for Mississippi, per ESPN's Brett McMurphy, has been an inability to win away from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium:
Going back further than that, according to ESPN's Kate Tamba Howard, this is Ole Miss' first loss against an unranked nonconference opponent since 1976.
Memphis, which came into the game unranked with a 5-0 record, responded with 24 unanswered points that included scores on four straight possessions from the second quarter through the third quarter with Nkemdiche on the sidelines.
About the only "negative" for Memphis, per ESPN's Scott Van Pelt, is the increasing likelihood that head coach Justin Fuente leaves the program after this season:
Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch kicked the offense into gear. With virtually no running game to help, the standout junior finished the game 39-of-53 with 384 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Of course, Lynch has slowly moved into the national quarterback conversation. He's started to draw some NFL draft buzz, which Dane Brugler of CBS Sports wrote is only going to increase after Saturday:
Memphis certainly belongs in the conversation for a spot in the Top 25 polls next week. The American Athletic Conference suddenly looks very formidable, with three undefeated teams (Temple, Houston) and time to boost their respective resumes.
The Rebels were able to make things interesting late, cutting their deficit to seven points late in the third quarter, but ultimately, their inability to slow down Lynch was too much to overcome. The Tigers were able to get two fourth-quarter field goals to seal the win.
One bright spot for Mississippi was Laquon Treadwell, who continues to dazzle in 2015. The star wide receiver had a career-high 14 catches for 144 yards and one touchdown.
If those numbers aren't enough, Treadwell also showed off his skills as a passer with this 68-yard score to Quincy Adeboyejo, via Ole Miss Football:
Sallee pointed out a scenario in which this Ole Miss loss turns into a nightmare for the entire SEC:
The health of Nkemdiche will be the Rebels' big story moving forward. While there is no such thing as a good loss, in this case, the Rebels did pick the right time to drop a game.
Mississippi doesn't lose any ground in the SEC West, still owns a tiebreaker over Alabama thanks to its head-to-head win and has a huge showdown with Texas A&M at home next Saturday.
Fuente was glowing about his team and the Memphis fans after this monumental win for the program, via Memphis Tiger Network:
Tigers wide receiver Moze Frazier, who had eight catches for 83 yards and one touchdown, added that this is something everyone on the team has been building toward, via Memphis Tiger Network:
The early deficit could have sunk Memphis, which was looking to establish itself as a legitimate Top 25 team, but Lynch admitted the team never lost confidence, via ESPN.com.
"We got down early and there were a couple of long faces on the sideline, but we knew we had to keep plugging away," Lynch said. "We knew early in the game we were moving the ball on them."
While all the focus in an upset like this tends to focus on the losing team, Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly did give Memphis kudos for its play, per ESPN.com.
"You've got to give all the credit to Memphis," Kelly said. "They played hard. They played to the whistle and knew what they were doing."
The AP and coaches poll voters will certainly have to give the Tigers their due now while also figuring out how much to punish Ole Miss for two losses in three games.
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The Baylor Bears played just their sixth game of the season on Saturday, but junior receiver Corey Coleman has already set the school's single-season touchdown record.
In other words, he's a monster.
Coleman tied the single-season record (14) in the first quarter against West Virginia and then broke it with an 11-yard touchdown catch (above) in the second quarter.
He wasn't finished, however. Coleman continued his big day by making a defender miss on his way to touchdown No. 16:
The 5'11" wideout has at least one touchdown in every game this season and is on a streak of five straight games with multiple touchdown catches.
If he continues at this pace, Coleman's record will be tough for any Bear to break in the future.
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