Most of this blog (except for a few changes to the series notes and mentions of subsequent games at the bottom) was originally posted on the SportingNews on November 16, 2007./em>
The “Go to Hell series” is so named (by me at least) because both sides involve that phrase in chants directed against the other team.
Ole Miss (105 meetings as of the 2016 game) is LSU’s second most-common opponent after only Mississippi St. (109 meetings). 2016 was the 71st season in a row the two have played. The only longer current streak for LSU is 72 (Mississippi St.). Tulane, which stopped playing the Tigers yearly after 1994, played LSU 83 consecutive LSU seasons (76 consecutive Tulane seasons). Mississippi St. is also Ole Miss’s only more-commonly-played opponent, having played the Rebels on about 10 more occasions.
LSU won five in a row overall in the series from 2002 to 2007, but Ole Miss took three of six from 2008 to 2013 before losing in 2014.
From 2003 to 2007, LSU won 3 in a row in Oxford for the first time ever (although LSU did win 3 road games in a row from 1907 to 1917). The Tigers were of course a few yards or a few points away from extending their road streak to 4 for the first time. Before 2013, LSU had won three games in the series in a row and 9 of 11 after Ole Miss won 4 of the previous 5 meetings.
Overall records (updated after 2016 game)
LSU leads, 60-41-4
In Louisiana, LSU leads 41-26-1
In Baton Rouge, LSU leads, 40-24-1
In New Orleans, Ole Miss leads, 2-1
In Mississippi, LSU leads, 19-15-3
In Oxford, LSU leads, 9-8-1
In Jackson, LSU leads, 9-6-2
In Vicksburg, LSU leads, 1-0
In Meridian, Ole Miss leads, 1-0
LSU, 8, 1928 to 1937
LSU also went 8-1-1 from 1976 to 1985.
Ole Miss, 6 (7 unbeaten), 1952 (1951) to 1957 (This includes Ole Miss’s longest road winning streak of 4 and unbeaten streak of 5.)
Ole Miss had a comparable streak when the Rebels went 6-1-1 from 1962 to 1969.
LSU, 52-3, 2011 (Oxford; previously it was 46-0 in 1901 [Baton Rouge])
Ole Miss, 37-3, 1963 (Baton Rouge; Ole Miss’s biggest shutout win was 32-0 in Jackson in 1992.)
Most points scored:
LSU, 61, 1970
Ole Miss, 46, 1956
Highest total points scored by both teams:
1. 2010 – 79, LSU 43, Ole Miss 36 (Baton Rouge)
2. 1970 – 78. LSU 61, Ole Miss 17 (Baton Rouge)
3. 2012 – 76, LSU 41, Ole Miss 35 (Baton Rouge)
4(t). 1948 and 1998 – 68, Ole Miss 49, LSU 19 (Baton Rouge); Ole Miss 37, LSU 31 (Oxford)
6(t). 1973, 1989, 1999, and 2007 – 65, LSU 51, Ole Miss 14 (Jackson); LSU 35, Ole Miss 30 (Oxford); Ole Miss 42, LSU 23 (Baton Rouge); LSU 41, Ole Miss 24 (Oxford)
10. 1956 – 63, Ole Miss 46, LSU 17 (Baton Rouge)
Lowest total points scored (post-WWII)
@LSU 7, Ole Miss 3, 1959
Tie, 6-6. 1951 (@LSU) & 1960 (@Ole Miss)
@LSU 14, Ole Miss 0, 1958
LSU 14, @Ole Miss 0, 1985 (Jackson)
@LSU 10, Ole Miss 7, 1961 & 2014
Ole Miss 17, @LSU 0, 1966
@LSU 11, Ole Miss 10, 1964
Ole Miss 21, LSU 0, 1960 (Sugar Bowl in New Orleans)
Ole Miss 15, @LSU 7, 1962
1894 to 1914: the early years
Until 1914, the series was fairly back-and-forth, played in a variety of locations (New Orleans, Vicksburg, Meridian, and Jackson, as well as Baton Rouge), was not played every year, and neither side dominated. There was no streak of more than 2 wins by either side until 1917. The Rebels’ only leads and ties in this series were during this time period. They led 1-0 and 2-1, later tying at 3, 4, and 6 (in 1914).
1915 to 1957: series of streaks, LSU takes a dominating lead
LSU would only lose once in the series from 1915 to 1937, although, to be fair, only 5 of those 15 games were played outside of Baton Rouge.
Ole Miss responded by winning 4 in a row, all in Baton Rouge. The 1938 win ended the Tigers’ longest home streak of 18 games, which was not surpassed until this season.
After LSU won 5 of 7 from 1942 to 1950 (all in Baton Rouge), Ole Miss won 6 in a row (after the 1951 tie) under John Vaught (as in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium) despite only playing 2 of the 6 in Mississippi. Vaught would go 15-7-3 against the Tigers.
LSU still led the series by over 10 games. After the 1926 game, the series was only interrupted in 1932, 1935, 1943 (no Ole Miss team), and 1944 (shortened schedule). It has not been interrupted since.
1958 to 1971: the best of the SEC, at least outside of Tuscaloosa
1958 to 1972 was the most meaningful stretch in the rivalry. Ignoring ties, LSU won 77% of its games during the period, and Ole Miss won 75%. Neither side had a losing season during that stretch and each went undefeated and untied once. Ole Miss went 10-0-1 one year (1960) also, the tie coming against the Tigers.
Although book-ended by LSU wins, Ole Miss went 8-6-2 against the Tigers during that period. During the stretch from 1951 to 1969 (which includes LSU’s wins in 1958 and 1959), LSU only won 4 times. The Rebels went a total of 12-4-3 in that latter period of time, getting within 4 games of LSU for the overall series.
The Rebels’ six-game winning streak over LSU ended in 1958, 14-0. LSU had gone into the game as #1 in the AP poll, #5 in the UPI, and Ole Miss had been #6 in both polls. The next week, LSU moved up to #2 in the UPI and passed up Iowa, who had been tied, the week after that. LSU would go on to win its only undefeated consensus national championship to date.
The Tigers remained #1 until facing the Rebels on that Halloween night the next year, when what is considered the greatest play in LSU history took place. Ole Miss was also undefeated at that time, ranked #3 in both polls.
Ole Miss led, 3-0, going into the fourth quarter. The defensive struggle continued, forcing Ole Miss to punt in the opening minutes of the fourth. Back to receive was a well-known halfback by the name of Billy Cannon. Cannon was UPI and TSN Player of the Year the year before, as well as earning several other national, regional, and position honors.
I don’t know if it was a breach of ethics to punt out of bounds back then or what, but the ball went right to Cannon (off of a bounce), and the rest is history, memorialized in a grainy videotape (which you’ll almost certainly see whenever the game is broadcast). Cannon broke at least 7 tackles–and it seemed the entire kicking team had a shot at him at some point–as he scored the only points in the game (except for the extra point) for LSU, which won 7-3 after a goal line stand.
Vaught would later say about the run, “Outside the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 [which preceded statehood by 9 years], many Cajuns consider Billy Cannon’s run the greatest event in state history.”
Cannon, a Philadelphia, MS, native, would go on to win the Heisman Trophy.
It was LSU’s 18th victory in a row, but the Tigers’ streak ended in Knoxville (where the Tigers had never won despite it being their 7th try) by 1 point the following week, and national championship hopes all but ended when the Rebels would pass up the Tigers in the polls after defeating the Volunteers.
Syracuse would win the national championship and defeat #4 Texas in the Cotton Bowl. LSU, ranked #3, was matched up with the #2 Rebels again in the Sugar Bowl, which in a way functioned as the first SEC Championship game, and Ole Miss won 21-0. LSU did not make it past the Ole Miss 38.
After the tie in Oxford ruined Ole Miss’s perfect season (likely costing them a national championship) later in 1960, LSU would win in 1961, 10-7. The Rebels then went 4-0-1 over the next five years. The Ole Miss wins in 1968 and 1969 were each by 3 points and each with Archie Manning at the helm. Manning was so successful at Ole Miss that the speed limit on campus is still 18, his number as a Rebel.
The Tigers would take out their frustrations on him in 1970 though, winning 61-17, LSU’s biggest win in the series since 1917.
Ole Miss responded with another nail-biter win in Jackson, by only 2 points this time.
1972 to 1982: LSU takes over again
The Tigers would have trouble in the 1972 return to Baton Rouge. Had it been played two years later, it would probably be known to this day as Clock-gate. LSU came into the game at 6-0 and on a 10-game winning streak and Ole Miss was 4-3, having ended a 3-game losing streak to begin conference play by beating Vanderbilt the week before. But LSU would need every second. After three plays were run in the final 10 seconds–the ball was snapped for the second-to-last play with 4 seconds on the clock–LSU would win, 17-16. A sign was put up along the Mississippi-Louisiana border that read, “Entering Louisiana — Please Set your clocks back four seconds.”
Vaught originally left Ole Miss after the 1970 season, then came back for one year in 1973, but he couldn’t beat the Tigers, although that team won 4 of its last 5.
From 1972 to 1982, LSU went 9-1-1 against the Rebels. Ole Miss only won three games in the series from 1972 to 1989.
1983 to 2001: Back and forth with Billy Brewer (and three other guys)
Brewer went 4-7 against LSU, but it didn’t seem like it. He was 4-1 against the Tigers when his team finished the regular season with a winning record, losing only in a 1989 upset. The win over the Tigers in Baton Rouge in 1986 gave LSU its only SEC loss on the season.
Joe Lee Dunn beat the Tigers in 1994, one of only 2 conference wins (the other over Vanderbilt) in Dunn’s only year at Ole Miss.
The Tigers welcomed Tommy Tuberville to the SEC by beating him 38-9 in his first game as head coach against LSU (which happened to be on the road), and 39-7 the next year.
Tuberville would respond by beating LSU four times in a row, two at Ole Miss. The first time was an upset, one of only three losses by the Tigers in 1997. But after a 3-year bowl streak in which the Tigers went 26-9-1 overall, LSU reverted to early ’90s form with miserable years in 1998 and 1999. This enabled David Cutcliffe to beat the Tigers in his first contest against them as head coach and ran the Ole Miss winning streak to 3.
In 2000, Nick Saban’s first season, the Tigers evened things out against Cutcliffe by winning in Oxford, 20-9.
Cutcliffe, with Louisiana native Eli Manning at QB, again led his team to a win in Tiger Stadium in 2001, which brought his team to 6-1 (the loss to his predecessor on the road) and dropped LSU to 3-3. But fortunes dramatically reversed afterward. The Tigers won 7 in a row, winning the SEC Championship and Sugar Bowl, and the Rebels only won one game of their last four (over Vanderbilt).
In all during this period, LSU was only 10-9 against Ole Miss. 2001 had marked the fourth Ole Miss win in 5 meetings and 7th in their last 12.
2002 to present: Mostly nail-biters, mostly LSU wins
The Rebels played LSU during another late-season collapse of theirs in 2002 but still only lost at Tiger Stadium by 1. They went on to win their final game in the Egg Bowl then beat Nebraska in the Independence Bowl. LSU, with a chance to return to the SEC Championship, lost by 1 in Little Rock, sending it to the Cotton Bowl and a loss to Texas.
In the stoutest challenge the Tigers received in their national championship season (other than that from Ron Zook’s Gators, who beat LSU), the Rebels gave the Tigers all they could handle in a 17-14 loss at Oxford. It was Manning and the Rebels’ only loss in his last 9 games.
In 2004 at Tiger Stadium, the Tigers finally evened out Cutcliffe’s record at 2-2. Although LSU would win 9 games in Saban’s final season and Ole Miss would only win 4 in Cutcliffe’s final season, it was another 3-point game, 27-24. I mark the decision to fire Cutcliffe (which I disagreed with at the time) as the beginning of Ole Miss’s recent troubles.
2005, Les Miles’ first season, is the first of only three exceptions to the close-win pattern in this group as LSU won 40-9, their 8th win in a row.
In 2006, despite another lackluster season for Ole Miss and another 11-win season for LSU, the Rebels took the Tigers to overtime at Tiger Stadium. They accomplished this with a blocked extra point after what looked to be the winning drive by LSU. The Tigers avenged the 1998 loss, the only other in overtime, which was played at Ole Miss. Colt David, who had attempted the extra point, redeemed himself with a 26-yard field goal.
That had been the fourth of five contests decided by 3 points or less, but LSU did not lose one of them.
Ole Miss got a measure of vengeance with a big win in 2008 and the 2009 game which they barely survived.
Then of course, LSU got another close win in 2010. The Tigers trailed with just 44 seconds left, as Stevan Ridley scored to give LSU its third distinct lead of the fourth quarter and fourth lead of the second half. For the Tigers, this ended a three-game losing streak against Houston Nutt, dating back to the 50-48 triple-overtime win by Arkansas over the Tigers in 2007.
LSU then gave Houston a hell of a send-off with a 52-3 win in Oxford in 2011. It was both the most points either has scored in the state of Mississippi in the series (probably the most points LSU scored in a single game played in the state of Mississippi ever) and the largest margin of victory in series history by either team. The score was actually deceptively close as LSU did all it could to avoid scoring in the final possession. After a first-and-goal at the 1, the Tigers kneeled the ball four consecutive times.
Ole Miss was 5-5 entering the 2012 game, and LSU was 8-2, but the Rebels were motivated. Ole Miss gave the Tigers a scare before LSU scored the winning touchdown with 15 seconds to go. The Rebels had led 28-20 after three quarters and 35-28 with 10 minutes to go in the game. The play of the game in my opinion was a Billy Cannon-esque 89-yard punt return down the right side of the field by Odell Beckham to tie the game at 35. Jalen Collins, whom Beckham went around when he first went left and then went right, was also instrumental in the return. A couple of possessions later, the Rebels had a chance to take the lead after getting a first and 10 at the LSU 18 but after sacks ended up with a 4th and 30 and only a missed 53-yard field goal attempt to show for it. LSU would parlay the resulting field position into the winning touchdown drive. Although Ole Miss out-gained LSU 463-427 (this did not factor in the punt return), the LSU defense was good when it mattered, allowing Ole Miss to gain only one first down (not counting another by penalty) in its last four possessions.
I wrote my thoughts on the 2013 game here. Aside from the “Series Notes”. 2013 and 2014 are not reflected in some of the remarks above, but I am including them in the following: It was the ninth time in the last 13 games in the series that the game was decided by 7 points or fewer.
In 2015, LSU entered the game with two consecutive losses after starting undefeated, and the Tigers’ struggles continued in a 38-17 loss. Ole Miss was coming off a bye week after an overtime loss to Arkansas two weeks before. The Arkansas loss ultimately cost the Rebels what would have been their first SEC Championship appearance. Both teams would win bowl games and finish with 3 losses (the Rebels lost a non-conference game against Memphis).
In 2016, both teams were ranked; but the Rebels were again coming off a loss to Arkansas, this time without an intervening bye. LSU had won two in a row after elevating former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron to (interim) head coach. An LSU turnover allowed the Rebels to tie the game at 21 points apiece at the half, but the Tigers did not allow another point and won 38-21.
Les Miles’ record against Ole Miss as LSU head coach finished at 7-4.
LSU remains undefeated in games in the series with Ed Orgeron as head coach of either team. Oregeron had coached Ole Miss from 2005 to 2007, and the only noteworthy game of the series was the 2006 one mentioned above.
Other “Rivalry Series” entries:
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