Ole Miss has the advantage for second place in the SEC West.
The No. 17 Rebels beat No. 13 Arkansas, 52-51, in a wild game Saturday afternoon in Oxford after Arkansas scored with no time left. The two teams combined for over 650 yards rushing while also making numerous big plays in the passing game.
The biggest pass play came from Ole Miss QB Matt Corral to WR Braylon Sanders with 1:07 to go. Sanders got wide open in the Arkansas secondary for a 68-yard score that put Ole Miss ahead. The TD came just seconds after Arkansas QB K.J. Jefferson scored a rushing TD with 1:22 to go to tie the game.
Arkansas (4-2) then scored with the clock at zero when KJ Jefferson found Warren Thompson for a nine-yard TD in the back of the end zone. Arkansas coach Sam Pittman immediately signaled for a two-point conversion and the win, but Jefferson's pass into traffic fell incomplete.
Ole Miss (4-1) had taken the lead with 9:01 to go on Snoop Conner's third TD of the day. That score was set up by the first bomb from Corral to Sanders, who made a diving grab a yard from the end zone. The two teams traded punts after that TD before Jefferson tied the game.
Corral finished the game 14-of-21 passing for 287 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 15 carries for 94 yards and two rushing touchdowns. It was a stellar rebound after he threw six interceptions against Arkansas in 2020.
Jefferson scored six touchdowns himself. The Mississippi native was 25-of-25 passing for 326 yards and three touchdowns and an interception while he rushed for 85 yards and three TDs.
The quarterbacks’ performances were a big reason why it was so surprising to see each team punt in the fourth quarter. Arkansas scored 37 points in the second half while Ole Miss had 31 in the final two quarters.
Ole Miss in the driver's seat for No. 2 in the SEC West?
Alabama is the clear No. 1 team in the SEC West after it annihilated Ole Miss a week ago. But the Rebels now have a big advantage over Arkansas for second place in the division.
Saturday's game was huge for division positioning with each team coming off its first loss of the season. There's a logjam behind the Crimson Tide in the West and it's easy to get enticed by Ole Miss' offense — though the defense still needs some work. Lane Kiffin was not proud of the defensive performance in his postgame interview for obvious reasons. Arkansas had 676 yards and was 7-of-13 on third downs.
But Ole Miss can say it has the best QB in the division. Corral has accounted for 20 touchdowns through five games so far and leads the conference with eight rushing TDs. If Ole Miss gets to 10 wins in 2021 he's setting himself up to be a Heisman finalist.
Arkansas is still set up to be more than a spoiler too. While it now misses out on the head-to-head tiebreaker with Ole Miss, a win at home against Auburn in Week 7 keeps Arkansas firmly in the mix for a top-three finish in the division.