No. 12 Ole Miss overwhelms middling LSU, 31-17

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Coming off a huge, emotional effort in an upset win over Florida, LSU made the announcement that Ed Orgeron would not return as head coach next year.

The obvious question was how would LSU players (and coaches) respond at Oxford against No. 12 Ole Miss Saturday?

The answer was a big thumbs down, with the Tigers giving an uninspired effort.

LSU scored first, had a chance to score second and establish a real edge but did not.

Then, Ole Miss put up five unanswered scores.

LSU had no answers.

As the game progressed, Ole Miss made adjustments. LSU did not. The predictable result followed.

The 31-17 final score was not an indication of how the game was played. Ole Miss dominated after an early surge by LSU.

The Rebels were not particularly sharp but still put up 470 yards. Ole Miss was penalized 12 times for 106 yards.

That Ole Miss could easily defeat LSU and could do so without a few key players and by not playing anywhere near peak performance level spoke volumes.

The concept of playing loose and with nothing to lose for Ed Orgeron certainly did not materialize, despite a solid start to the game by his Tigers.

The whole narrative that Matt Corral was hurt and would not play was, indeed, a smokescreen.

Then, there was the subplot of Orgeron, the former Ole Miss who was fired there and is about to be the former LSU coach who was fired, going against Lane Kiffin, thought to be a potential target of LSU to replace Orgeron.

If this was an audition for Kiffin, though his team was not its typical explosive self offensively, Kiffin passed the test soundly, beating his friend Orgeron soundly.

Then, of course, the Tigers and Rebels are huge, long-time SEC rivals squaring off in the Magnolia Bowl.

Ole Miss won the toss and took the ball first.

LSU got a stop and the Tiger offense went to work immediately, driving 90 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 1-yard run by Tyrion Davis-Price to make it 7-0 with 8:29 to play in the opening quarter.

The Tigers then had a 14-play drive which stalled at the Ole Miss 2-yard line. On fourth, and goal, Ed Orgeron opted to go for it, rather than take the sure field goal and Max Johnson, rolling left, had no one open and threw an interception to Tysheem Johnson.

It is an easy second-guess but it would have been prudent to take the points with Cade York and take a two-score lead at that point.

Glen Logan, who just returned to play recently, went down with an injury early in the second quarter but he was able to return.

The Rebels drew close after getting the big stop, driving 74 yards in 13 plays with former Mandeville High star Caden Costa booting a 43-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 10:44 to play in the first half.

LSU later tried a field goal, this time from 55 yards and Cade York missed it wide right.

Ole Miss responded, driving 63 yards in seven plays with Corral hitting Casey Kelly on a 2-yard touchdown pass to give the Rebels a 10-7 lead with 3:12 to play in the first half.

The Rebels took control just before halftime, driving 80 yards in nine plays with Corral scoring on a 3-yard run and it was 17-7 with 15 seconds left in the first half.

After a slow start, Ole Miss had 247 yards of offense in the first half. LSU tackling in the first half was poor.

LSU went 3-and-out to start the third quarter and things got a lot worse as Ole Miss drove 66 yards in 10 plays and scored on a 5-yard run by Henry Parrish Jr. to make it 24-7 with 8:59 to play in the third quarter.

It got worse after Johnson was sacked and fumbled it away to the Rebels as Ole Miss drove 62 yards in six plays with Jerrion Ealy scoring easily on a 36-yard run to make it 31-7 with 2:27 to play in the third quarter.

Garrett Nussmeier entered the game in the fourth quarter after Johnson could not get anything going.

Nussmeier made one superb, long throw for a completion. He led LSU to a 47-yard field goal by Cade York to make it 31-10.

LSU got a final score in what was basically mop-up time as Nussmeier drove LSU 80 yards in six plays. The freshman quarterback connected with Malik Nabers on a 9-yard touchdown pass to account for the final margin.

Nussmeier finished 7-of-12 for 103 yards and a score. He has unmistakable physical ability, with a very strong arm.

Of course, Johnson is not the problem but it was comforting to see Nussmeier display his skills.

After running the ball well against Kentucky and brilliantly against Florida, the Tigers rushed for just 77 yards against Ole Miss, looking more like the LSU team we saw in the first five games of the season.

Defensively, LSU tackled very poorly and it was hard to find a positive, outside of the excellent effort of Damone Clark, who was in on 19 tackles, including a sack.

The play-calling of LSU was uneven, shaky, but in fairness, it is hard to call plays when your offensive line cannot open holes or protect well enough in the passing game or, when able to do so, your receivers cannot uncover.

LSU, of course, is missing its premier receiver in Kayshon Boutte and it does not help playing without Deion Smith, either.

Johnson started the game 5-of-5 for 79 yards. Johnson would complete only 8 of his next 16 passes for 67 yards with an interception and two lost fumbles.

Eli Manning had his No. 10 retired at halftime and he and his family, including mom Olivia and dad Archie, both Ole Miss graduates, enjoyed watching the ceremony and the game.

If this game was any indication of what to expect moving forward from players and a lame-duck coaching staff, it is easy to envision only one or two more wins the rest of the way.

On Saturday, LSU lost to a team wearing “sissy blue shirts” for the second time this season.

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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