Instant analysis: LSU 41, Ole Miss 35
November, 17, 2012
By David Helman | ESPN.com
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Regardless of their records, it's never a dull affair when LSU and Ole Miss get together in Tiger Stadium. LSU overcame a seven-point fourth quarter deficit to survive an Ole Miss upset bid and down the Rebels, 41-35. The Tigers' last five home wins against Ole Miss have come by margins of one, three, three, seven and six.
Here's how it happened in Death Valley:
It was over when: LSU running back Jeremy Hill dove over the goal line with 15 seconds remaining to put LSU on top for good. The Tigers bungled the ensuing extra point, which made the dying seconds slightly more tense for the home crowd, but the Rebels' desperation touchdown drive ended in a frantic hook and lateral attempt, which was ultimately stopped on their own 35-yard line.
Game ball goes to: Even in a losing effort it's got to be Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief, who had a career outing in the Rebels' most high-profile game of the season. Moncrief picked on anyone and everyone in the LSU secondary, be it cornerbacks Tharold Simon and Jalen Collins or safety Eric Reid. He hauled in six receptions for 161 yards and two touchdowns -- the second of which gave Ole Miss a 35-28 fourth quarter lead.
Game ball, part II: Hill led the Tigers' ground game for the fifth straight week, as he carried the ball 20 times for 86 yards and three touchdowns. The freshman plowed into the end zone on two different 1-yard carries, and he also broke a 27-yard scoring romp in the first quarter.
Key play: Odell Beckham finally made the big special teams play the Tigers have been waiting for, and it came at just the right time. Beckham fielded an Ole Miss punt at his own 11-yard line with nine minutes to play and proceeded to reverse field for an 89-yard touchdown return. The score knotted the game at 35-35, and LSU would not trail again.
Key stat: After going 16 quarters without a turnover, the LSU offense coughed up the ball three times against Ole Miss. The Tigers and Rebels combined for seven turnovers on the day.
What it means for LSU: Style points only matter when you're in the national title hunt. The Tigers are not, so they'll gladly take the win. The victory keeps alive a very slight chance that the Tigers could win the SEC West -- provided Alabama loses to a bad Auburn team next week. If that miracle doesn't work out, LSU at least kept pace in the race for an at-large BCS bowl bid.
What it means for Ole Miss: The Rebels held the lead in the fourth quarter for a second straight week, and for a second straight week they failed to close out. First-year coach Hugh Freeze and his Ole Miss squad are still searching for an elusive sixth win to reach bowl eligibility, and they're down to their final game to find it. Next week's Egg Bowl against arch-rival Mississippi State will determine if the Rebels go bowling or not.