Few teams, if any, played a tougher September schedule than Ole Miss. The Rebels have played three top-12 teams, losing to then-No. 4 Florida State 45-34 and No. 1 Alabama 48-43 before beating No. 12 Georgia, 45-14, this past Saturday.
It was a game the Rebels needed, and it was a game the Rebels got.
“The way we prepared and practiced was definitely different,” Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We knew that we had to take care of the football. It was going to be a four-quarter battle and we had to make sure in the second half we came out firing too. I think the biggest thing was definitely the turnovers. We were able to keep them at a minimum. We know if we don’t turn the ball over, we’re very hard to stop. So that was a big one this week.”
The Rebels led 45-0 midway through the third quarter, as Kelly finished 18-of-24 for 282 yards and two touchdowns. He has now thrown a touchdown pass in 17 straight games, thus breaking the school record held by Eli Manning.
Does this mean that Kelly might be primed for a great NFL career as well?
“You can’t even really look at it that way,” said Kelly, who also rushed four times for 53 yards and a touchdown against the Bulldogs. “I wish we were winning 17 straight rather than just breaking a record throwing a TD in every game. I just want to keep on winning. That’s my goal as a quarterback. That’s what you need to do. That’s how you get remembered. You just got to keep on taking care of the football and good things will happen.”
Kelly will be one of the top quarterbacks taken in next year’s NFL Draft. That’s a long way away, but he is already preparing for it – sort of.
“I got about 15 to 20 things written down on a sheet of paper all over my house,” he said. “I got one in the bathroom, the laundry room, downstairs in the living room, that I look at every day and it’s doing the right thing, whether it’s on the field, off the field. Wherever I’m at, I have to make sure I’m doing the right things. Everything will be multiplied by 100 whatever you do, whatever it’s good or bad. So you just got to keep focused, stay humble and keep working hard.”
With two losses, Ole Miss, which is ranked 16th in the AP Poll, would likely have to win out to have any shot at the playoff. That journey begins this Saturday at home against Memphis (3-0).
“Well, you got to have faith that you can get it done for the whole season,” Kelly said. “We definitely feel like we still have a great team. We’re confident in each other and in our coaches. We’re just focused on the next game. As long as we take it game by game, we’ll let the other stuff play out itself.”