OXFORD, Miss. — Fire up the deep fryer at the Oxford Chevron, Phyllis Smith, you dear you.
As much as your old friend Ed Orgeron wanted to win this one, and considering LSU has an open date next week before traveling to play you-know-who, and thinking back on how left for dead the Tigers were just three weeks ago, he might just stand at the counter and buy chicken on a stick for anyone who comes by to claim them.
Even the Ole Miss faithful who were so glad to see Coach O disappear over the horizon a decade ago.
OXFORD, Miss. — No, that wasn’t Leonard Fournette running over the Ole Miss Rebels.
Orgeron still didn’t want to say it, but you know this 40-24 victory Saturday night had to mean so much for him. To come back to Ole Miss, his palace of personal failure — he has as many Southeastern Conference wins this season as he did in three years coaching the Rebels — and lead his Tigers to a huge, momentum-building victory has to taste mighty good.
“I know this game means a lot more to Coach O with his history here,” said tailback Derrius Guice, a Sherman tank rolling through the helpless hedgerows of the Rebels’ defense.
“But every game is a must-win game.”
LSU put itself in must-win mode after a September when the Tigers were slow and all too mellow. They were routed 37-7 the last time they came across the border by Mississippi State and then were taken down a few dozen pegs by Troy two weeks after that.
Three huge SEC wins later over Florida, Auburn and Ole Miss to get to 6-2 (3-1 SEC), and it seems like another season.
“The players, coaches, the administration here, we’re all fighters,” senior Christian LaCouture said. “We understood the process we needed to go through. Now we’re doing the things we know we’re capable of.”
Maybe this game didn’t seem as daunting as Auburn did, but still it fairly screamed “IT’S A TRAP!!!” from the moment the sportily attired Ole Miss fans went to The Grove on Friday night and stuck their first tent pole in the ground. The Rebels can’t play a lick of defense, especially against the run, but they hung 57 points on Vanderbilt last week and scored more than 40 on two other occasions to start the season. It was a fair question whether LSU would score enough to keep up.
Ole Miss got some points. Had its moments. But overall, this Saturday night was a dark time for the rebellion.
They like to say “Fins up” for the Ole Miss “Landshark” defense around here. When it came to stopping Guice and LSU’s running game, it was more like belly up.
Guice and Darrel Williams carved up the Ole Miss defense and stuck it on LSU’s front porch like a jack-o-lantern to the tune of 393 rushing yards. LSU had another 200 yards through the air, with Rebels defenders mostly clutching air as Guice and the rest of the Tigers went whooshing past.
Meanwhile, the high-flying Ole Miss passing offense, tops in the SEC coming in at 357.2 yards per game, was held to 194 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions.
“All flights canceled today,” said a grinning Kevin Toliver, who had the third of the Tigers’ picks.
OXFORD, Miss. — Backed up in its own territory is where the LSU defense thrived Saturday nig…
Back to Guice and the old LSU ground and pound. He put his LSU single-game school rushing record of 285 yards against Texas A&M last year on the endangered list, and with 268 yards on his stat line after three quarters was within viewing distance of the SEC single-game record of 321 yards.
Guice didn’t make it, but his 276 yards on a mere 22 carries did allow him to set another mark. He becomes the first player in Southeastern Conference history to rush for 250 or more yards in three straight games. In the conference of Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Leonard Fournette and all the rest, that is a stunning achievement.
“Derrius Guice is a stud,” quarterback Danny Etling said. “It was great to see.”
So LSU has this three-game winning streak to take into the open date before playing Nov. 4 at Alabama, a game certain now to once again be a primetime affair on CBS (official word comes down Monday).
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This team is must-see TV for sure. The Tigers are bowl eligible for the 18th straight season, by the way, and mathematically in control of their own destiny in the SEC race.
After Starkville and Troy, who could have said even that?
Probably not even the now-famous Phyllis Smith.
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