Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ole Miss ends LSU dominance, 31-13

BATON ROUGE, La. – Houston Nutt showed once again he knows how to win in Tiger Stadium — which will certainly enhance his popularity at his new school.

Jevan Snead threw two touchdown passes, Markeith Summers ran for a 13-yard score out of the "Wild Rebel" formation and Mississippi won its fourth straight game with a 31-13 triumph over No. 18 LSU on Saturday.

Ole Miss (7-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) snapped a six-game losing streak against LSU (7-4, 3-4) with its first win in the long rivalry since 2001.

It also gave the Rebels the inside track to second-place in the SEC West, which could result in a Cotton Bowl bid.

Snead was 16-of-25 for 274 yards. His scoring passes went for 34 and 25 yards, both to Mike Wallace.

Ole Miss was dominant on defense as well, knocking LSU starting quarterback Jarrett Lee out of the game and holding the Tigers to only one touchdown. The Rebels committed to shutting down LSU's powerful running game, holding the Tigers to 37 yards on 29 carries. They dared LSU's young quarterbacks to throw and the Tigers could not answer the challenge. Ole Miss had four sacks.

Lee was 4-of-12 for 49 yards and one interception before he was sidelined with a right ankle injury late in the first half. Jefferson came on to lead LSU on its only touchdown drive. He wound up 10-of-20 for 129 yards, one TD and one interception. He was sacked three times, the final time when LSU tried to pass on fourth-and-23 in the fourth quarter.

Only one season after its second BCS national championship of this decade, LSU has now lost four games for the first time since 2002, when the Tigers were 8-5 under former coach Nick Saban, now the coach of top-ranked Alabama.

While there will be no national championship this season for the Tigers, LSU took time on its 2008 home finale to honor its first consensus national championship squad, which starred All-American Billy Cannon in 1958. Between the first and second quarters, Cannon, who also won the 1959 Heisman Trophy and who'll be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this year, was honored on the field. He saluted an appreciative crowd while his retired No. 20 was unveiled from the facade of an upper deck.

Sitting in the suite just below Cannon's number was Y.A. Tittle, who played for LSU in the mid-1940s before a Hall of Fame career in the NFL.

Cannon and Tittle had been part of memorable contests between these rivals from neighboring states, who were playing for the 97th time in what has been newly named the Magnolia Bowl. The only people celebrating at the end of this one were the Ole Miss fans dressed in red near the tunnel to the visitors' locker room.

They hailed Nutt, who last year nearly derailed LSU's national title campaign when he coached Arkansas to a triple-overtime upset victory in Tiger Stadium.

This one wasn't nearly as dramatic. Ole Miss scored first for the 10th time in 11 games and never trailed.

The Rebels needed only one possession to take a 7-0 lead. LSU got crossed up in pass coverage on third-and-17, leaving Wallace wide open over the middle for his 34-yard TD.

Colt David's 46-yard field goal made it 7-3. But Ole Miss struck back when Nutt called for a fake punt on fourth-and-4. Upback Jason Cook cut off the long snap and passed to Kendrick Lewis for a 33-yard gain to the LSU 5. Soon after, Brandon Bolden's 3-yard run made it 14-3.

The Rebels went 81 yards in five plays on their next drive, which was capped by Snead's pinpoint loft down the sideline to Wallace in the end zone.

Lee's injury occurred on LSU's next series. He was backpedaling under pressure when he lofted a first-down pass to Brandon LaFell just before being brought down hard by Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerry Peria. The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Peria landed on top of Lee and the quarterback's right leg appeared to fold awkwardly under him.

Jordan came on in relief and threw his 9-yard TD pass to Terrance Toliver four plays later, pulling LSU to 21-10 before halftime. David's 52-yard field goal on the opening series of the second half made it 21-13 and the momentum appeared to be shifting, but Nutt has this Ole Miss squad playing with too much confidence to fold.

Snead recognized another breakdown in LSU coverage and hit a wide open Lionel Breaux down the left sideline for 39-yards to the Tigers 16. Three plays later, the single wing formation known at Ole Miss as the "Wild Rebel" produced points when Summers took a handoff from Dexter McCluster and ran around the left end to make it 28-13.

Running by committee, Ole Miss finished with 102 yards rushing, led by Cordera Eason with 60.

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