"This game will end 35-6, and no one will know the real truth," said Ole Miss alumnus Steven Godfrey in the fourth quarter. "No one but those of us gathered here."
The final score was a 35-13 in favor of the Rebels, but Boise State trailed by just 7-6 with 13 minutes to go. That was when the Rebels stopped matching the Broncos' mistakes with even more baffling ones of their own. Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick threw his fourth interception of the night with 12:26 left, and despite the universe crying out for Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace to likewise throw his own fourth, superior athleticisim prevailed. The Rebels scored two plays later, then floored it.
Ole Miss finished with 460 yards of offense to Boise State's 398, and I'd love to tell you how much of those tallies were in garbage time, but it's not easy to tell exactly when that flip switched. Six interceptions in the first half will do that to one's perception.
Three things we learned
1. Ole Miss has some damn beasts. That's not exactly news, but we haven't seen a Rebels defense this nasty since ...
This is the most physical Ole Miss defense I've ever seen.— Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey) August 29, 2014
Those five-star recruits Hugh Freeze and company brought in? They're looking like them.
Former No. 1 recruit Robert Nkemdiche was everywhere in the first half, batting an interception and smothering Hedrick, who was sacked thrice on the night. Though the Rebels often look like they have no idea where they're going, they do get there in great haste and with significant force. And at some point, either this year or next, those underclassmen are gonna start connecting a lot of dots.
2. Boise State misses Chris Petersen ... but not that much. The last time the Broncos were in this building, they baffled a Georgia defense just as talented as this Ole Miss one, walking out with a 35-21 win that didn't even feel that close.
We've heard a lot about the great Boise State run being done with, about the Broncos being just a good mid-major now, but here they were. Yet another neutral-siter against a more talented team that turned out about the same as ever. Despite making at least as many mistakes as a mistake-friendly Ole Miss, the Broncos survived until the middle of the fourth quarter, led by Jay Ajayi's 164 yards and an opportunistic defense. That's not up to the highest BSU standards, but we really might never see another mid-major reach that level again anyway.
3. Bo Wallace is still Bo Wallace. The SEC's depletion at the quarterback position had many analysts rushing to declare Wallace and the few other experienced QBs as dark horse Heisman contenders and so forth. That's despite the history of erratic play and game-breaking turnovers we've seen from Wallace and his non-Nick Marshall fellows in the past.
We saw in South Carolina how Dylan Thompson's experience served led him to a 50 percent completion percentage against a middling-at-best Aggie secondary, and in Atlanta we saw Wallace unfurl three first-half turnovers and nearly lose another in the third quarter. And yet! He had 386 yards in the air! Cody Core and Laquon Treadwell both over 100 yards receiving!
Dr. Bo reppin that 1:1 TD to INT ratio. #elite— Red Cup Rebellion (@RedCupRebellion) August 29, 2014
And that was before touchdown No. 4!
The biggest question for the Rebels entering the season was whether their offense could approach the promise of their defense. Wallace vs. Alabama's defense is one month away -- is his long-awaited level-up coming before then? And can those monsters on the Rebel D look like such bullies throughout SEC play?