BATON ROUGE, La. — Since the turn of the millennium, the Magnolia Bowl between LSU and Ole Miss has been a fairly one-sided rivalry. But that doesn’t mean the game hasn’t seen its fair share of close contests.
The Tigers have won 11 of the 16 matchups against Ole Miss since Nick Saban’s first win over the Rebels in 2000. But seven of those 11 wins came by one possession and only two were blowouts.
Today, we’re looking at LSU’s five most memorable wins over Ole Miss since the start of the century. The closeness of the game is a huge factor in this discussion, but so is the importance of the game. Therefore, games where both teams had something to play for are prioritized over games with low stakes.
If there’s any game that you think was rated too high or too low, or not even on the list at all, be sure to let us know in the comments below.
No. 5: Nov. 23, 2002 — LSU wins 14-13
Led by backup quarterback Marcus Randall and just two weeks removed from the Bluegrass Miracle, the No. 21 Tigers didn’t play their best game against a .500 Ole Miss club. The Rebels held the lead through three quarters until Randall connected with Michael Clayton for a 27-yard touchdown with six minutes remaining to put the Tigers up 14-13.
Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning had a chance to lead the Rebels back to victory, but a Corey Webster interception with 1:51 left effectively sealed the win for the Tigers.
No. 4: Nov. 18, 2006 — LSU wins 23-20 (F/OT)
Never sleep on Ed Orgeron.
Even though his Rebels had only one conference win and LSU was a top-10 team, Orgeron’s Rebels played a game that by all accounts they should’ve won. Ole Miss led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, but JaMarcus Russell and Dwayne Bowe slashed through the Ole Miss defense to mount a comeback.
With 14 seconds left in regulation, Russell and Bowe connected on a 5-yard score, tying the game at 20-20, but Ole Miss lineman John Jerry blocked the extra point, sending the game to overtime. Kicker Colt David atoned for the blocked kick in the first overtime, nailing a 26-yard game-winner.
No. 3: Nov. 17, 2012 — LSU wins 41-35
LSU and Ole Miss aren’t known for their shootouts — this was only the second time that both teams scored five or more touchdowns in a Magnolia Bowl — but the points made this one worth it.
The Tigers came into the fourth quarter down 8 points, but tied the game up behind a 12-play, 88-yard drive led by punctuated by Jeremy Hill’s 1-yard touchdown run and Spencer Ware’s 2-point conversion catch from Zach Mettenberger.
But Ole Miss fired back. Bo Wallace connected with Donte Moncrief on a 30-yard strike with 11 minutes left in the game, seizing the lead back for the Rebels. LSU couldn’t do much on its next drive, nor could Ole Miss. LSU’s punt was uneventful. Ole Miss’s punt landed in the hands of the never-uneventful Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham returned the punt 89 yards for a score, tying the game once again. Then, with just over four minutes remaining, Mettenberger mounted a drive that just about exhausted the clock, ending with a 1-yard Hill touchdown rush with 15 seconds left.
No. 2: Oct. 25, 2014 — LSU wins 10-7
It’s not often that Ole Miss comes into Tiger Stadium the favorite. But the No. 3 Rebels, unbeaten and the toast of the college football world, were riding high in 2014 until a matchup against LSU derailed them.
Neither offense could get much of anything going. Ole Miss scored its first and only touchdown with time dwindling in the first quarter, and LSU could muster only a field goal in the first three quarters.
But with his heels backed up near his own end zone, LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings began to mount a comeback. And by that, I mean Jennings handed the ball off a bunch. Jennings led the Tigers on a 13-play (12 runs), 95-yard drive that lasted six minutes, culminating in a 3-yard touchdown pass to Logan Stokes, giving the Tigers their first lead of the game.
With two seconds left, LSU safety Ronald Martin intercepted a Bo Wallace pass, cementing the victory for LSU and handing Hugh Freeze and the Rebels their first loss of the season.
No. 1: Nov. 22, 2003 — LSU wins 17-14
LSU wanted to win the SEC West. So did Ole Miss. And, for one of the few times in history, that title was on the line when the Tigers and Rebels faced off in 2003.
It might not have been LSU’s finest hour, but its strong first three quarters made up for a flawed fourth quarter where Manning and the Rebels came back to cut the lead to 3 points. The game would have been tied, or maybe worse, had it not been for a poor day at the office for Ole Miss kicker Jonathan Nichols. Nichols missed two field goals that day, one of which was a 36-yarder with 4:15 left in the game that would’ve tied the score.
In the end, the LSU defense proved too much for the future two-time Super Bowl champ and his Rebels. The win squashed Manning’s Heisman candidacy, but more importantly it kept LSU in the hunt for a BCS championship, a title it went on to win after beating Georgia in the SEC championship and Oklahoma in the Superdome.
The game might not have been all that fun to watch at the time. But, given the stakes, it’s hard to think of a more important LSU win over Ole Miss.