In what looked like a game destined to be dominated by Texas A&M, who came into the game ranked 8th in the country according to the College Football Playoff rankings, a deflated, bruised, and down for the count Ole Miss team wanted to make a statement that the Rebels were not done yet.
Before we get into what happened in College Station, Texas, we have to establish the back story. The Rebels suffered one of the most devastating injuries imaginable in losing senior Quarterback Chad Kelly to a knee injury that effectively ended his college career. When Kelly went down injured, Jason Pellerin finished the game at QB for the Rebels against Georgia Southern. When Kelly went down, many thought he was just being taken off as a precaution but it turned out to be the worst case scenario for the Rebels. Hugh Freeze needed to make decision after the loss of Kelly was announced. The question at hand was do you pull the 2016 Recruiting class’ #1 QB Shea Patterson’s redshirt or do you continue with redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin? Many debated the topic, but it seemed clear that Patterson gave the Rebels the best opportunity to win games the rest of the way. The decision became public later in the week although Freeze stated on Saturday night that he made the choice to start Patterson the day after Kelly went down. With the story now set, the redshirt pulled, and solo cups filled, let’s head to Texas A&M.
Ole Miss came into the night with a 4-5 record with a 1-4 record in the SEC this season. The Rebels lone win came against a then ranked #12 Georgia in which the Rebs won 45-14. Ole Miss’ season had a chance to be special with the Rebels having hopes of competing for National Title. Due to some close losses to all ranked opponents, the Rebs came in simply looking to get one win closer to bowl eligibility. Shea Patterson and the Rebels took the field after a touchback on the opening kickoff and the first play of the Patterson era was a 16 yard scramble. The first scoring opportunity came on the second drive when Patterson lead to the team down to the TAMU 8 for a Gary Wunderlich field goal. However, apart from another field goal, the first half belonged the Aggies. A&M would lead 21-6 half.
Things were not looking up for the Rebels and Patterson needed a break out performance to win this one for the Rebels. He would do just that. The 3rd quarter was scoreless and Ole Miss trailed 21-6 going into the 4th. Patterson would lead the Rebels to score on 3 consecutive drives in the fourth quarter including an incredible scrambling play by Patterson that left Stringfellow wide open in the end zone to start off the Rebel scoring. Patterson would lead the team to score late in incredible fashion with a touchdown pass to van Jefferson of 32 yards to come within 2 points. The Landshark Defense then shut down the Aggies and allowed Patterson to run down the field and get Wunderlich in position to knock in a clutch game winning field goal with 37 seconds left. That gave TAMU time to try and score but on their second play, Deontay Anderson intercepted the pass and that was that. In dramatic fashion, Shea Patterson would win his debut game for Ole Miss.
So just how good was Patterson? He went 25/42 with 338 passing yards with 2 TD’s and 1 INT. His poise and confidence with the ball in hand made many believe he had been the starter for years in Oxford. Patterson is 1-0 in his young college career with games against Vanderbilt in Nashville, and the Egg Bowl matchup against Mississippi State in Oxford. If Patterson wins one of those games, the Rebels become bowl eligible. If he can get the Rebs into a bowl game, that helps him gain more practices with other big time freshman and returning players to have more chemistry and experience next season. Despite what some may say, pulling Patterson’s redshirt gives Ole Miss the best chance to be good down the road, not just for now. Great move by Freeze and the staff. No matter how you look at it, Patterson’s 338 yards passing are an Ole Miss freshman record, his 402 yards of total offense, another Ole Miss record. Patterson came out and put on a show. Get your popcorn ready folks, Patterson will be here for at least another 2 seasons.