Tag Archives: LSU

Ole Miss' Jake Gibbs vs LSU 1960 Sugar Bowl

OM vs LSU Football 2016: Ole Miss’ True Rival

Today’s college football fans are certainly spoiled. There are usually more bowl games than eligible teams, there are more televised games than you could possibly watch and every game is a “rivalry” game.

Article originally printed in Rebel Nation Magazine

In the SEC, teams have played each other long enough to develop endless story lines through the years and you have more than enough reason to drum up vitriol at your pre-game tailgate, no matter the opponent.

For Ole Miss fans recently, MSU has arrived at the Egg Bowl with something to play for besides a Belk or Weedeater bowl birth. Even though they haven’t been very successful against Hugh Freeze, the Egg Bowl means so much more than it ever has in the past, and has taken this rivalry to a new level (or a new low depending on your viewpoint).

Last year, both Ole Miss and State were playing for a Sugar Bowl birth which wasn’t been an option for MSU since WWII.

So, indeed, these are some heady days in Mississippi sports history. However, if you had to pick one team in the SEC to be your biggest clash of the year, I offer the idea that it should be the Louisiana State College to the South West over our little brothers to the South East.

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The recently coined, Magnolia Bowl, has only been in play since 2008 and has been held by the teams 4 years each, but there is a much longer and glorious history between these two teams that should sway your opinion closer to mine.

There are many things; both on and off the field, that sets the Ole Miss – LSU rivalry apart from other teams Ole Miss plays each year.

Ole Miss fans typically see LSU as the polar opposite of themselves. LSU is seen sometimes as the antithesis of the University of Mississippi.

But if you really pay attention, these two teams are closer than either fan base wants to admit.

Both Ole Miss and LSU are flagship schools in their state, holding both the medical and law schools for their respective states and as much as we hate to admit it, LSU is also a well-respected academic institution.

Both fan bases set the world wide standard for tailgating and support for their college football program. After a trip to a game at LSU, you will have a hard time denying that LSU fans love to cook and watching football, and it is questionable which is the greater love.

The opposing fans reap the benefits as you can sample some of the best southern and Cajun cooking anywhere in the state of Louisiana, right outside the gates of Tiger stadium. While it may be less formal, you will have to admit, a LSU pre-game cookout reminds you a lot of the Grove.

Historically, both teams shared a reciprocal “Go To Hell OleMiss/LSU” cheer just for each other that still continues today, no matter if the team is actually playing each other or not. They both shared the ‘Ole’ moniker for a while.  In the thirty’s LSU was nicknamed “Ole Lou” as a counterpart to “Ole Miss.”

And both teams thoroughly embraced the traditions and heritage of an old southern University.

Ole Miss was LSU’s first feature SEC opponent not named Tulane as the teams faced off in Baton Rouge in 1894. LSU was slightly late to the college football party as Ole Miss played a full 8 game season in 1894 with Alabama, Vanderbilt and Tulane on their docket before beating LSU 26-6.

LSU and Tulane became the hot ticket in South Louisiana for the next forty years. Oxford was stuck as a rural outpost that could not get top players or top opponents to visit Oxford.  The rail service in those days was spotty and rail lines un-reliable.  So it took a highway system and an ambitious young football coach from Texas to turn Ole Miss’ fortunes around.

Tulane and MS State’s programs began to fall away in the late 40’s which put the spotlight firmly on the Ole Miss – LSU series each year and for a period of time, this rivalry was as great as any College football has even known.

Because of the remote nature of Oxford, Ole Miss typically played LSU in Baton Rouge or Jackson, MS which made the series even harder for Ole Miss but Coach Johnny Vaught embraced the series.

Vaught said, “I liked to play ‘em (in Baton Rouge) because they were a great football team. We always got half the gate receipts from the games in Baton Rouge.  We’d make a lot of money, and we knew we could whip ‘em.  I always felt they had a lot of coaching changes (four during Vaught’s tenure) and they never did establish a great defense.” (Quote from Ron Higgins article in Times-Picayune 10/21/14).

Ole Miss beat LSU in Baton Rouge 6 straight games from 1952 to 1957 and it began to worry LSU fans and the administration. Finally, new LSU coach Paul Dietzel got wise and began to emulate the great Johnny Vaught.

“Ole Miss is responsible for the success we had. Dietzel said. “In that ’56 game, it was hot as the dickens in Tiger Stadium, and they played us with three teams while we were only good enough to play our starters.  By halftime, we were dead on our feet, so wore out you could squeegee us off the deck.  Ole Miss was fresh.”

By 1958, Coach Dietzel had followed Vaught’s recruiting plan by hiring the SEC’s second full time recruiter, after Ole Miss’ Tom Swayze, and was also using Ole Miss’ training and conditioning schedule, which included 20 full-pad 50-yard sprints at the end of every practice.

Dietzel ran this team for 21 sprints after every practice. Dietzel proclaimed his third team the Chinese Bandits after a popular comic book character at the time and LSU took off, finally beating Ole Miss for the first time under Dietzel in 1958 14-0, making the LSU-Ole Miss series a heavy weight knock out fight every year.

From 1958 to 1962, the SEC title was on the line every time Ole Miss and LSU faced each other. Ole Miss was undefeated in 4 of those 5 years and LSU was undefeated twice.  Only once in this period did a team have more than one loss (1960 LSU).

Four national championships were awarded during this five year stretch with LSU in 1958 and Ole Miss in 1959, 1960 and 1962.

Archie Manning helped continue the series through the late 60’s with two great come from behind games and contributed to the high rankings of both teams for the fall classic in Baton Rouge or Jackson.

From 1958 to 1973, 10 of those games featured at least one team ranked in the top 10 and conference titles were always within reach.

There has not been a greater series before or since in College Football with higher stakes on the line.

The Ole Miss – LSU rivalry lost a little of its luster during the 1980’s and 1990’s but the addition of the Magnolia Bowl trophy has rekindled the fervor between the teams to a championship level.

magnolia-bowl

With both teams back in the hunt for SEC and national titles, Ole Miss’ fans should consider LSU as your biggest rival.

If you need further proof, LSU stormed the field in Tiger Stadium after unsetting Ole Miss 10-7 in 2014.

If that is not a rivalry, I don’t know what one is!

 

Photo via Sports Illustrated

Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen Should Never Leave Mississippi

Mississippi football has played second fiddle (or maybe last fiddle) in the SEC since Johnny Vaught hung up his whistle over 40 years ago.  Coach Bear Bryant and Gene Stallings made sure Alabama football was the king in SEC play in the 80s and 90s, and more recently; Nick Saban and Les Miles have kept the under-dogs at bay.

Reports hint that all this may soon change and Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen could be in a prime position to take over the void left by such legendary head coaches.

After starting the season on a red-hot 7-0 start the wheels have fallen off the Leonard Fornette train and fans have had enough of the one-dimensional offense in Baton Rouge.

Nick Saban, long considered the best “hired gun” in college football is again being courted by Texas and the NFL.

The two young coaches in Mississippi are primed to take a leap forward should Saban and Miles move on from their current seats.

As dominate as the LSU and Alabama programs have been through the years, they are not guaranteed success.  You still have to have the right coach to win even at the school that Forrest Gump built.

Ask Mike Shula or Dennis Franchione about how easy it is to win in Tuscaloosa.  Gerry Dinardo and Curly Hallman had equal struggles with the recruiting juggernaut that is LSU.

The odds of replacing the win totals of Saban and Miles would be quite a gamble for their respective athletic directors.

Freeze and Mullen suddenly have options to consider beyond taking the next step to a bigger football program.

They could possibly stay in Mississippi and become the next big football programs if Bama and LSU struggle for a few years finding the man to replace the man.

Ole Miss and State are recruiting better than ever before and if Freeze and Mullen are some of the better known coaching names in the SEC west in the future, look for that to improve even more.

The difference between winning 10-11 games every year as opposed to winning 8-9 games every year is handling LSU and Alabama.

I hope Freeze and Mullen realize they have a chance to fulfill any goal they could ever want right here in the state of Mississippi.

Chad Kelly scores over Alabama AP photo - Butch Dill

Ole Miss Leading The Race For The SEC West

With three weeks down in the college football season, we are starting to weed out the pretenders and see some prospective contenders. Ole-Miss (3-0) at this juncture has the most impressive win in the College Football Universe as they outlasted the Alabama Crimson Tide (2-1) this past Saturday 43-37 in the coveted prime-time 8:00 pm slot on ESPN.

The question is can the Rebels sustain their early success? The Rebels are in what many people anticipate to be a four way race for the SEC west between Ole Miss, LSU, Alabama, and Texas A&M.

Lets take a quick look at Ole Miss’ schedule going forward and see how or if this team gets to Atlanta for a chance to win the SEC overall for the first time in over 50 years.

Texas A&M Aggies (October 24, 2015)

Player to Watch: Kyle Allen QB

The Sophomore Scottsdale, Arizona native has been quite impressive thus far, completing 61% of his passes, for 594 yards and 9 touchdowns to only two interceptions. It’s safe to say that the Johnny Football Hangover period is over two years later as the Aggies once again have a lethal passing attack.

All Time Record vs Ole-Miss: The Aggies have a 6-1 record against the Rebels, dating back to 1911 in a sparsely played matchup. Hugh Freeze is 1-2 against the Aggies as the Rebels head man, defeating Texas A&M 35-20 last season in a matchup that was not as close as the scoreboard displayed.

2015 Advantage: Ole Miss.

The Rebels get Texas A&M at the perfect time; a week after the Aggie’s play Alabama and two weeks after playing the Dak Prescott led Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Granted Ole Miss has to play their brand of football for sixty minutes in order to come away with this win, but a heavy dose of bruiser back Derrick Henry and Alabama’s physical offensive line will be a tough task, and to expect the Aggies to perform with the same sort of intensity for three consecutive weeks is a tough task for any coach, especially against these three teams.

I give the Rebels a 7 point advantage in this much too early analysis with the belief that Number 78 Laremy Tunsil will be re-instated and Ole Miss can develop a sound running attack to go with Chad Kelly’s Aerial Assualt. Ole-Miss 45 – Texas A&M 38.

 

LSU Tigers (November 21, 2015)

Player to Watch: Brandon Harris QB

We are all very aware of Leonard Fournette’s emergence onto the national scene after huge games against Mississippi State and just making Will Muschamp’s Auburn D look plain silly. With that being said, the Tiger offense will go only as far as game manager Brandon Harris can take them.

Without a sound passing game, elite defenses will be able to put 9 in the box and put LSU offense in limbo for a second straight season. I do not see that happening as Brandon Harris has been what Miles needs him to be so far: a facilitator for the run game, with the capability of accurate short and intermediate passes to keep the defense honest. How he continues to develop will be critical in the win loss category for LSU.

All-time Record vs Ole-Miss: LSU has the advantage 59-40 in one of the more intense rivalries for the Rebels. Hugh Freeze led teams have played LSU extremely close all three years (all three games have been decided by 6 or fewer points) squeaking out a win in 2013 over what was then the #6 team in the country 27-24.

2015 Advantage: Slight Ole Miss

I could see this game going a hundred different ways. As I said above, the success of the LSU regime depends as much on the play of Brandon Harris as it does Leonard Fournette. He doesn’t have to be great, just consistent. With that being said, Ole Miss has one of the top defensive secondaries in the SEC and it will be an all day challenge for Harris to get the ball down field with a veteran front seven down on his back all day. This will be the Rebels “revenge game” for the 2003 heartbreaking loss that kept the Rebel faithful from the Georgia Dome. At the end of the day, LSU will not be able to keep up with the Rebel offense. The Rebels gets it done Ole Miss 31 – LSU 17

If the Rebels can get these two wins, they would not only have grips on the SEC West, but likely we are talking about an Ole Miss squad contending for a national title on Thanksgiving weekend in “Stark Vegas.” Oh what a weekend that will be!

Photo via Dak Dillon - USA Today

Ole Miss at LSU: Do or Die?

Ole Miss is on the “back turn” of the SEC basketball season and despite having 19 wins, they still have some work to do to make sure they get that NCAA at-large bid.

Today the Rebels face the imaginary Tigers, native to the State of Louisiana, for a game that could very well be a “do-or-die” game.

It would give Ole Miss 9 top 100 RPI wins and a potential 5th top 50 RPI if LSU can finish strong.  A loss on the road to a quality LSU team is not devastating but with the home loss to Georgia, they are running out of time to impress the tournament committee.

Unlike Georgia, LSU has two quality scoring threats.  Forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey average 16.5 points per game, the same as Ole Miss’ Stefan Moody.

This team will put even more pressure on the Ole Miss front court who was beat up a little late against Georgia.

Ole Miss was within two points of Georgia with two minutes left to play when Georgia took it down low and had their way with the Rebels, eeking out a four point victory.

Granted Ole Miss had a cold night shooting and could easily overcome their offensive struggles in the paint by trading three pointers for two.

Can Ole Miss get hot early and win a game they “should” win?  We shall see soon!

Andy Kennedy made a passionate case for his team to step up their emotion after the team looked like they were going through the motions Wednesday night.

This is not a do or die game but would remove most of the late season drama if the Rebels can pull it off.

OLEMISS AT LSU – BY THE NUMBERS

Pts per game: LSU 74, Ole Miss 73

Rebounds per game: LSU 39.6, Ole Miss 37.5

Field goal %: LSU 50.7, Ole Miss 48.6

Three pointers made: Ole Miss 6.5, LSU 5.6

 

 

Photo via Dak Dillon – USA Today
Arkansas v LSU

Les Miles’ Last Big Win In Tiger Stadium?

As Bo Wallace’s last angry, desperate heave into the endzone fell into the arms of LSU safety Ronald Martin’s arms, LSU Coach Les Miles calmly looked skyward with a last acknowledgement to his mother Martha who passed away friday night just before the biggest game of the year so far in the SEC West.

This wild, instant classic 10-7 win, in front of the largest crowd in LSU history looks to be his commencement.  A nostalgic flashback of the way life was in college football before the spread offenses and no huddle teams and coaches entered the SEC.

Les Miles has notched 102 wins as the LSU head coach and only losing 26 games since 2005.  Early on, he was bolstered from the recruiting prowess of Nick Saban who left LSU in great shape for the next man and Miles kept LSU playing at the high level Saban had built in the program.

LSU was always a top program but they haven’t won a national championship in 45 years before Nick Saban came to town and won it all in 2003.  It’s always hard to be the man to follow “the man,” but Miles kept winning and won his own national title in 2007.

LSU vs. Ole Miss 11/17/12

It hasn’t been easy to satisfy a rabid fanbase like LSU’s but Miles has kept one step ahead of the firing squad.  He followed up his 2007 national title with a eight win season in 2008 but won nine the next year, 11 in 2010 and was back in the national title game in 2011.

The last two years he has had double digit wins but in 2014 he is sitting at 7-2 and 3-2 in the SEC and Alabama still looming on the schedule.  His only two losses, and they were big losses, were to the read option offenses of Mississippi State and Auburn.

The emotion displayed by his players on Saturday in response to his mothers passing allowed him one last reprive on his own programs demise which has been caused because of his recruiting prowess.

Les Miles has recruited too well.  So well in fact that the last two years he lost 18 juniors to the NFL draft, add to that 57 seniors that moved on and this team’s roster has been decimated.

The 2014 roster has 14 seniors total, they are starting a true freshman at running back, wide receiver and a sophomore at QB.  Granted they are all still very talented but this is a team game and the entire team of LSU is a shadow of what they once were.

In the two losses to MSU and Auburn, Miles’ Tigers looked lost and confused.  The defensive line was porus, giving up over 500 yards total offense in each game, and an average of over 300 of those were rushing yards in each game.

The writing is on the wall for Les Miles but never count “The Hat” out.  The coach known for making incredible ridiculous calls that go his way (for the most part) was the calm and calculated one saturday night.

Last friday night, Coach Miles was actually at the hospital with his son Ben who had broken his ankle during his high school game when he got the call that his mother Martha had passed away at the age of 91.

jennings lsu sportingnews

Faced with the mortal realities of life and death, it is easy to put football in its proper perspective, even when facing the no. 3 team in the nation and hosting ESPN’s College Gameday.

Miles was quoted, “I spent time today thinking about the way that I need to tell them that when they see me on the sideline, it has not to do with who’s passed and what’s going on,” Miles said. “It has only to do that I’m looking for every opportunity and advantage for us to win, and they need to see me as an aggressive man.”

A focused young LSU defense held Ole Miss to 313 yards and only 7 points, a team that normally averages nearly 450 yards and they cut the potent Ole Miss passing attack in half, only allowing 176 yards the one early score.

Tight end Logan Stokes added, “We played for him tonight. We absolutely played for him.  For a guy that cares about us like that — I mean, your mother just passed away. I know if my mother passed away, I know how I would be feeling, so I can only imagine how he feels. But for us to go out there and get that win for him tonight, there’s no greater feeling. Yeah, I scored the game-winning touchdown. That’s a great feeling. But the fact that we won for Coach Les Miles is unreal.”

The team won for Les Miles.  They played beyond their abilities and maturity, for one game, for their leader, in what may be the last major win for Les Miles as a dying breed of SEC coaches.