It wound up being the night that the college football world turned upside down. Just one week after the SEC's national championship hopes had been declared dead, upsets of Oregon and Kansas State changed everything and gave fan bases across the South at least a glimmer of hope.
The mayhem of Nov. 17 might have extended to Baton Rouge if not for the heroics of LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who rescued the Tigers from an embarrassing setback to Ole Miss.
The Rebels got the better of LSU for three quarters, as they rode a four-touchdown performance from quarterback Bo Wallace and a staggering 161-yard day from wide receiver Donte Moncrief. Wallace connected with Moncrief on their second touchdown of the game -- a 30-yard score -- to break a tie and again to put Ole Miss ahead 35-28 with 11 minutes to play. To make matters worse, Zach Mettenberger left the game with an apparent injury as the Tigers went three and out on their next possession.
That's when Beckham took over to make the play of his season. The LSU defense forced an Ole Miss punt with nine minutes remaining. Beckham fielded the ball at his own 11-yard line running to his left and slipped an Ole Miss tackler. From there, he reversed field to the right and dodged another man at the 25-yard line. With a convoy of blockers, the sophomore reached the east sideline and was off to paydirt -- teammates waving him all the way home.
The touchdown knotted the score at 35-35, and LSU would not trail again. Five minutes later, with Mettenberger back in the huddle, the Tigers marched 64 yards to a game-winning Jeremy Hill touchdown run.
Any LSU punt return for a touchdown against Ole Miss is going to draw comparisons to Heisman winner Billy Cannon and the Halloween punt return against the Rebels in 1959, but the similarities between Beckham and Cannon are downright eerie. Both touchdowns camp against the same opponent, they both unfolded from south to north at Tiger Stadium and they both went for 89 yards.
More importantly for the Tigers, Beckham's return salvaged what was left of the high hopes for LSU in 2012. Had the Tigers lost, their (admittedly small) stake in the SEC West race would have been finished, and their odds of reaching a BCS bowl as an at-large bid would have been miniscule. Neither of those goals was realized by the end of the season, but Beckham's punt return extended them into the final week of the schedule.