Don't let the final score of Ole Miss' 35-13 win over Boise State fool you. It was not a convincing win, at least for the first three quarters.
Hell, those first three quarters – the first half, especially – were the perfect example of why college football should have a preseason. Mind you, we're not advocating for a preseason in college football. But anyone who is in favor of it and doesn't use the first two quarters of Thursday night's game isn't making the best argument possible.
In the first 30 minutes, Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace and Boise State QB Grant Hedrick combined for six interceptions. The teams combined for 13 penalties, including seven Ole Miss false start penalties. It was brutal.
Through three quarters, Ole Miss led 7-6. But finally in the fourth, the Rebels looked like the team that could be a sleeper in the SEC West as Wallace threw three fourth-quarter touchdowns in the span of three drives and three passes to pull away.
The third TD was a simple short pass to Cody Core that Boise's defenders just utterly whiffed on.
Can Ole Miss be that sleeper team? Well, based off Texas A&M's performance against South Carolina, finishing fourth in the SEC West is tougher than it looked 24 hours ago. But let's take A&M's game out of the equation and still pose the question. It's a yes, but it's certainly not unequivocal.
Entering Thursday, the prevailing thought was that the Rebels would go as far as Bo Wallace carried them in 2014. And that thought was proved true. As Wallace was throwing interceptions, Ole Miss looked like a team hardly capable of beating a Boise State team clearly not playing its best. When Wallace was throwing touchdowns, well, it was easy to bring A&M back into the picture and look ahead to October 11 when the two teams meet.
As for Boise State? Well, the Broncos were spoiled with Kellen Moore. Hedrick finished with four interceptions and simply didn't look comfortable all night, though it didn't help that he could smell Robert Nkemdiche's pregame meal wafting from his breath for most of the first half. The five-star recruit was constantly in what was supposed to be the pocket for Hedrick.
All isn't lost for Boise State, however. Winning the Mountain West may be enough for a New Year's bowl bid in one of the College Football Playoff bowls. But to do that, Hedrick will have to play much better.
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