When the question is “what if” for Ole Miss football, the play is always fourth-and-25 against Arkansas.
It’s the modern-day Billy Cannon run.
If the Rebels had gotten a stop on fourth-and-25 in 2015 – and the Egg Bowl played out the way it did in Starkville – Ole Miss would have been SEC West champs and playing in Atlanta.
There is also an overlooked play that could have changed the ending of the 2014 season.
What if wide receiver Laquon Treadwell had broken the goalline plane against Auburn and not gotten injured?
It was ruled that Treadwell did not score with 1 minute, 30 seconds remaining, a touchdown that with the PAT would have put the Rebels ahead 38-35.
Treadwell suffered gruesome injuries, a broken leg and dislocated ankle. His season was over, his career in doubt.
Ole Miss went through the motions in a blowout win against Presbyterian the next week then had an open date.
It was cold and raining when the Rebels lost 30-0 to Arkansas in Fayetteville two weeks after the injury.
Could a different result against Auburn have made a difference? Possibly.
Ole Miss went into the Auburn game coming off its first loss, 10-7 at LSU. The Rebels had an Alabama win in pocket and still controlled their fate on the path to Atlanta.
Beating Auburn would have awakened confidence that comes form rebounding from a bad loss with an impressive win against a top-five team.
Focus and preparation the following two weeks would have been razor sharp.
Would Treadwell alone have made a 30-point difference against the Hogs? No, but the game would have played differently. The calls would have been different, the execution different. Maybe with his top weapon at his disposal maybe Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace doesn’t throw two early interceptions.
The bizarre lateral play against Arkansas the following season continues to haunt Ole Miss fans, but the Treadwell near-TD against Auburn in 2014 has its own “what if” story.