Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin did not look like an attractive candidate for any coaching job on Saturday night in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
His soon-to-be former No. 14-ranked Rebels fell behind 14-0 early, then fell behind by a lot, 35-6, by halftime, and never got close in an embarrassing, 42-27 loss to unranked Arkansas (6-5, 3-4 SEC).
Kiffin’s offense did look great when it didn’t matter as Ole Miss scored three meaningless touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make the final look better. And the Rebels somehow gained 703 total yards and still lost as their defense allowed 503.
It looked like Kiffin may have spent less time on his game plan for the Razorbacks than he did on considering the Auburn head coaching opening. Auburn recently fired head coach Bryan Harsin and has been pursuing Kiffin, who is in his third season at Ole Miss. That is not rumor. It is happening.
In his second season at Ole Miss in 2021, Kiffin led the Rebels to their first 10-win regular season in history. But he admitted after the Arkansas loss that he did not look like a No. 1 candidate for Auburn.
“I don’t know that stuff out there — number one stuff,” he said when asked about the Auburn stories by national writer Brandon Marcello of 247 Sports. “Maybe if they watched the first half, I wouldn’t be number one anymore then.”
Kiffin, who said, “Fair question,” when asked about Auburn, also talked about the future at Ole Miss.
“I love being here,” he said. “I mean, I don’t want to look to next year already with a regular season game (Mississippi State on Thursday). But this is not one of those years where you say we’re going to lose all these guys. There’s a lot of people coming back, and a lot of news guys offensively, especially. So, very excited about the future.”
Ole Miss Fell Behind By Too Much Early
As Ole Miss trailed 42-6 in the third quarter, Arkansas fans began chanting, “Auburn … Auburn … Auburn,” which could be heard over the Ole Miss Radio Network broadcast.
The Rebels (8-3, 4-3 SEC) lost their second straight game and third of the last four. And now Kiffin has a short week of preparation before hosting Mississippi State (7-4, 3-4 SEC) on Thanksgiving night (7 p.m., ESPN). Mississippi State beat East Tennessee State, 56-7, on Saturday.
Kiffin’s future could go public by Friday, if not sooner. Auburn (5-6, 2-5 SEC) beat Western Kentucky, 41-17, on Saturday for its second straight win under interim coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams.
The Razorbacks’ win makes them bowl eligible going into their regular season finale at Missouri (5-6, 2-5 SEC) on Friday (3:30 p.m., CBS). Missouri beat New Mexico State, 42-7, on Saturday.
Arkansas Razorbacks Shredded Ole Miss Defense
Tailback Raheim Sanders’ 68-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter put Arkansas up 42-6, and Kiffin found himself in perhaps his worst game at Ole Miss. Sanders finished with 232 yards on 24 carries.
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson threw a pair of touchdown passes to wide receiver Matt Landers in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead. Then he found Ketron Jackson Jr. for a touchdown and 21-3 lead in the second quarter. Jefferson completed 17 of 22 passes for 168 yards. Sanders scored two other touchdowns in the second quarter for the 35-6 halftime lead.
Ole Miss rushed for 463 yards. Tailback Zach Evans gained 207 on 17 carries, and Quinshon Judkins added 134 on 24 carries. But much of that was in the second half when the game had long been decided.
“We just killed ourselves. We started slow, really did a poor job in the red zone,” Kiffin said. “Had a bunch of yards, which doesn’t mean anything if you don’t finish the drives.”