The SEC is a gauntlet, and while Ole Miss might have the best defense in the nation, its offense wasn’t enough to come out of Tiger Stadium with their undefeated record intact, as LSU came away with 10-7 victory that still doesn’t put them back in the hunt for a playoff place, but shows that the blows they took earlier this season didn’t finish them off for good.
It also says something about the difference between Ole Miss and their in-state rivals. Mississippi State didn’t just steal away with a win against LSU. They dominated with their big offensive line and power attack, and never looked for once like someone that might lose that game. Things can still change, as the Bulldogs need to play in Alabama and the Egg Bowl, but right now they’ve put themselves in some distance from the teams in the SEC West, remaining the only undefeated ones out there.
For LSU, after two losses to Auburn and Mississippi State, getting bounced again simply would have been too much. It wasn’t pretty, as the Tigers turned the ball over four times (two interceptions from Anthony Jennings), but their defense came through, holding Ole Miss to 0 points in the final three quarters, a total of just 313 yards on offense and keeping Bo Wallace on 14-of-33, intercepting him with nine seconds to go on a desperate pass from the quarterback.
LSU were trailing for most of the game, not doing too well offensively themselves. Things worked out for them in the fourth quarter after a long, six minute drive with 12 rushing plays ended with a play action pass to give them their first touchdown in the game and a 10-7 lead with only 5:07 remaining to play. Ole Miss played some great defense, but it doesn’t mean much when the offense doesn’t show up past the first quarter. The 95-yard drive was the longest allowed by Ole Miss this season. The previous high was 87 yards by Texas A&M.
Bo Wallace managed to get him team up the field but Ole Miss were stuffed on a 4th and 1 on the LSU 47. The Tigers couldn’t get anything on their next drive, with Ole Miss using all three timeouts to leave them with 79 seconds and 75 yards to work through. A big pass interference call gave Ole Miss the ball on the LSU 33 and later on the LSU 25 with nine seconds to go. Freshman kicker Gary Wunderlich couldn’t get the kick off in time, so Ole Miss moved back due to the penalty.
Bo Wallace put one in the air, but was intercepted inside the end zone, as Hugh Freeze didn’t feel his kicker had any confidence or nerves to go through with the kick. He preferred his not-so-accurate quarterback, but at least he’s not afraid of anything. In the difficult world of playing in the SEC and especially the Western division, this loss could mean losing their spot in the championship game and also making the playoff.
LSU succeeded by simply running up the middle better than anyone had so far this season against Ole Miss. They rushed for 264 yards, 202 of them coming inside the tackles, almost 150 better than what Ole Miss allow on average. Leonard Fournette led the team with 113 yards on 23 carries, as LSU averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Lowering your head and running on almost every play doesn’t always work, but against a limited team (offensively) like Ole Miss, it’s good enough to create a massive shake up.