OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — A matchup between two of the most prolific offenses in the Southeastern Conference didn’t go nearly as planned.
For Mississippi, that worked out just fine. For Texas A&M, it was downright ugly.
No. 24 Ole Miss used a bruising defensive performance to beat No. 15 Texas A&M 23-3 on Saturday night. The Aggies managed just 192 total yards and never found the end zone.
It seemed that no matter where Texas A&M’s offense turned, a swarm of blue and red was there to meet it.
“There were so many great efforts I hate to single out one,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. “I thought our coverage was good, our pressure was good and we stopped the run. One of our better efforts defensively for sure.”
The Ole Miss (6-2, 3-1) offense wasn’t great, but good enough to win. Chad Kelly threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns, Laquon Treadwell caught five passes for 102 yards and a touchdown and Jaylen Walton ran for 97 yards.
Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2) has lost two straight. Sophomore Kyle Allen completed just 12 of 34 passes for 88 yards before being replaced by Jake Hubenak early in the fourth quarter.
It was the first true road game for Texas A&M this season and its offense looked disjointed most of the night. It was an especially tough night for Allen, who was 0 of 13 passing in the third quarter and missed badly on several throws. Hubenak was 6 of 11 passing for 46 yards in relief.
“We couldn’t move the ball,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “Turnovers. Penalties. We couldn’t get off the field fast enough on defense.”
Ole Miss jumped out to a 16-3 lead by halftime and put the game out of reach with a 58-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to Treadwell with 9:16 left in the third quarter.
The Rebels then relied on their defense to coast to a surprisingly one-sided win.
“We’ve got a five-game season if we want to play for an SEC Championship,” Walton said. “This is one down and we played well. Hopefully, we will keep preparing good and playing this well.
“But there is still a long way to go.”
The victory was vital for Ole Miss as it continues to control its own fate in the Western Division thanks to a win over Alabama in September. The Rebels are still a game behind first-place LSU, but host the Tigers on Nov. 21 in Oxford.
Ole Miss made plenty of mistakes on Saturday — Kelly threw three interceptions — but still pushed out to a 13-0 lead midway through the second quarter following a 7-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to Evan Engram and two field goals.
The final few minutes of the second half were eventful with three turnovers on three consecutive plays — two by Texas A&M and one by Ole Miss. The Rebels were able to convert the Aggies’ second miscue into a field goal for a 16-3 halftime lead.
Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil started his first game of the season after serving a seven-game NCAA suspension for receiving illegal benefits. It appeared the All-SEC junior had an immediate impact — the Rebels ran for 230 yards after having just 40 yards on the ground total in last week’s loss to Memphis.
Ole Miss played without star defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who suffered a concussion last week against Memphis. The Rebels didn’t seem to miss him.
Texas A&M’s only points came on a 44-yard field goal by Taylor Bertolet in the second quarter.