OXFORD, Miss. — No, that wasn’t Leonard Fournette running over the Ole Miss Rebels.
It was Derrius Guice.
He’s back. And his LSU Tigers are bowl eligible, on a three-game winning streak and flying high heading into their bye week.
Guice raced for 276 yards, LSU defensive backs picked off three passes and the 24th-ranked Tigers thumped Ole Miss 40-24 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night, a rousing victory against coach Ed Orgeron’s former program.
The Tigers (6-2, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) claimed their first win here since 2011, and Orgeron matched his number of league wins in three years as Ole Miss’ head coach (three) in eight games as the permanent leader in Baton Rouge.
Orgeron and players celebrated deep into the night on Ole Miss' field, holding up the Magnolia Bowl Trophy after whipping a school that fired him a decade ago. Afterward, the coach downplayed a win over his former team. His players did not.
"Even before the game, we felt the energy," defensive end Greg Gilmore said. "He didn’t say anything out of character, but we felt the energy. We played it for him a little bit."
Said Guice: "I know this game in particular meant a lot to Coach O because of his history here."
The Tigers throttled Ole Miss in a similar fashion a year ago, this time using a different running back to roll up chunks of yards. Fournette broke the school’s single-season rushing mark with 284 yards against the Rebels in a 38-21 win last season in Tiger Stadium.
Saturday night, his former understudy did the damage against Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3) and interim coach Matt Luke.
Guice broke through after a sluggish month of battling a lingering knee injury. His 276 yards came on 22 carries for a 12.5-yard average, and he fell just 10 yards shy of breaking the school's single-season mark he set last year.
And he's still not fully healthy, he said afterward.
"I still get glimpses of injuries. I’m not 100 percent," Guice said. "I’m going to give it my all every time I’m out there. No matter how I’m feeling."
He became the first player in SEC history with three 250-yard rushing games in his career, accomplishing something players like Georgia great Herschel Walker and Auburn tailback Bo Jackson never did. Guice had 98 yards after the first quarter and 126 at half.
Meanwhile, running back Darrel Williams became the first player in school history to have 100 yards receiving and 100 yards rushing.
"We challenged our team," Orgeron said. "We needed to run the football."
OXFORD, Miss. — Backed up in its own territory is where the LSU defense thrived Saturday nig…
Guice, a junior from Baton Rouge, ripped off runs of 59, 33 and 48 yards, and the Tigers jumped out to leads of 13-3 in the second quarter and 23-9 in the third quarter. LSU scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives in the third to pull away, and quarterback Danny Etling completed a 60-yard touchdown pass to wide-open tight end Foster Moreau for the final dagger with 10:24 left.
It sent Rebels fans back to their partying places in the famous Grove — for LSU, just another run-heavy whipping of this SEC Western Division rival.
Three of the top four rushing performances against Ole Miss since 2004 belong to LSU players: Guice, Fournette’s 284 last season and Alley Broussard with 250 in 2004.
Connor Culp booted four field goals and has made seven straight since his promotion to starting kicker, and the Tigers defense swarmed hotshot quarterback Shea Patterson, a former 5-star prospect heavily recruited by LSU while he attended Calvary Baptist in Shreveport.
Kevin Toliver, John Battle and Grant Delpit picked off Patterson.
"We locked Ole Miss down," Toliver said. "Everybody thought they were going to just throw the ball around on us."
Edge rusher Arden Key came alive with some roaring quarterback pressures, two sacks and a forced fumble.
"He's just getting into playing shape right now," Orgeron said. "We needed that."
Williams, meanwhile, gashed the Rebels on the ground, too, gaining 103 yards, but he did much of his damage in the air. The senior had four receptions for 105 yards to become the first LSU player to crack the 100-yard receiving mark since Eddie Fuller did it against these Rebels in 1989.
Now the Tigers get a break. They’ll have an off week before facing top-ranked Alabama (8-0, 5-0), a monster of a program that’s won six straight games against the Tigers.
The focus immediately turned to the Tide after the game. Orgeron talked about the match against the Tide in his postgame address.
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"He said we've got to get ready for them," Toliver said. "Celebrate this win and when Monday comes, got to start preparing for Bama. Got to go in there with a mindset that we're unstoppable. We're like a moving train. Just can't be stopped."
His group enters the clash on a roll. After losing to Troy at home, LSU has won three straight games, all against league foes and two of them on the road. The Tigers won at Florida 17-16, stormed back to beat Auburn 27-23 and walloped the Rebels in a place where they hadn’t won since a 52-3 victory in 2011.
"We're confident. They fought," Orgeron said. "We were in a hole. We dug ourselves out of a hole."
Orgeron’s team burst out of the gate.
The Tigers rolled up 85 yards on their first three plays, including a 63-yard swing pass to Williams, to set up a game-opening field goal. Guice gained 91 yards on his first five carries and carried the ball on all three plays of a 75-yard touchdown drive to make it 10-3 about 10 minutes into the game.
Guice entered with a long run of 25 yards this season. He had three runs longer than that in the first three quarters and broke through his season-high of 122 yards, set in the season opener, proving that he’s returned to nearly full health.
Key flashed like never before this year in that first quarter, rolling up three solo tackles and forcing a fumble on a sack.
LSU’s two stars shined for the first time this season, each mostly recovered from various issues. Guice appeared to injure his left knee at Mississippi State. He gained just 135 yards in the four games following that 30-point loss in Starkville, Mississippi.
About 90 miles northwest of there, he roared, running wild behind an offensive line with two true freshmen.
Said Guice: "Felt like our O-line was dominating."