Saturday, 13 September 2003

Ole Miss 59, Louisiana-Monroe 14

The game tonight was fun, although an early downpour made things in the stands a bit wet throughout the game—because of the humidity, nothing seemed to dry out. Pretty much as I expected, the Rebels took out their frustrations on ULM, and there were fewer dropped passes. The secondary still gave up some big plays that they shouldn’t have (including two 20+ yard TD passes); however, the run defense continued to impress, holding ULM to 39 yards on 30 carries, including stopping ULM from getting a first down on the ground from both 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1.

Jamal Pittman continued to make his mark at RB, seeing action in the 3rd and 4th quarters—while you could credit some of the offense to a somewhat tired ULM D, Pittman put together a string of strong runs from scrimmage unmatched by McClendon, Turner, or Pearson.

Both Micheal Spurlock [sic]* and Ethan Flatt saw time at QB; Spurlock played the end of the third and much of the fourth (and went 3-4, 35 yds passing with one TD, although he mostly handed off to Pittman), but Flatt came in with about 6:00 left in the game (and continued handing off to Pittman). The Manning-Collins connection was on fire as always (2 TDs), but Taye Biddle also caught several long passes (like the one he dropped in the Memphis game), one of which went for a TD. Manning (22-26, 356 yds passing) passed for 3 TDs and scored a rushing TD on a five-yard, third down scramble.

The Rebels [2-1/1-0] now have an off-week before facing Texas Tech in Oxford on September 27. Although gametime is currently listed at 6:00 (same as ULM), campus scuttlebutt has it that kickoff may be pushed back to 8:00 (Central) with the game televised on ESPN2. Anything beats 11:00 am in my book…

Around the rest of the league, Auburn racked up an impressive win over Vandy (helped in no small measure by stupid penalties on the part of the Commodores); Auburn’s defeat of Vandy puts them in a tie for first in the west with Ole Miss. Alabama handled Kentucky at home, giving Mike Shula at least one more week in Tuscaloosa (Alabama and Kentucky are ineligible for postseason play and the conference title, making the game essentially moot in the standings). In the East, Georgia took the early-season conference lead after handing the South Carolina Gamecocks a defeat, moving to 3-0 overall.

In non-conference action: Arkansas defeated ex-SWAC foe Texas in Austin, 38-28, in what may be the upset of the day in college football. LSU took care of I-AA foe Western Illinois while Florida brutalized I-AA Florida A&M. And, in a game that just went final, Tulane edged Mississippi State 31-28 in N’Orleans.

* Just for the record: Spurlock’s first name is spelled Micheal, but is apparently pronounced the same way as Michael.