Even after that Bama thing, Ole Miss week is still a big deal for LSU
It’s Ole Miss week.
That might not seem like a big deal for No. 1 LSU, coming immediately after Alabama week and that monumental 46-41 victory.
But it is a big deal for the Tigers.
It’s Ole Miss week.
For the past 8 years especially, Alabama week has been the biggest one on the LSU football calendar. It’s always preceded by an open date for both teams, so it’s like two weeks.
And it’s definitely a big deal. It almost always has SEC West championship implications, and sometimes – like this season, for example – it has national championship implications.
LSU-Ole Miss doesn’t have those implications. But it used to. All the time.
But Ole Miss week doesn’t need national championship implications to be a big deal. Sure, if it had them it would be an even bigger deal.
It’s different from Alabama week. As big? Probably not, but a big deal in its own way.
It’s easy to say the LSU-Ole Miss rivalry is lost on current players, students and fans that belong to their generation.
But it’s not.
Go to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night see how it feels. Sure a lot of the electricity will be because of the presence of the No. 1 team in the country, regardless of who that team is.
But whenever LSU shows up in Oxford – or Ole Miss shows up in Baton Rouge – it’s electric, regardless of the rankings – or lack thereof.
It’s a border rivalry. There are lots of Ole Miss alums in LSU territory, lots of LSU alums in Ole Miss territory.
There are LSU families that have handed down hatred of Ole Miss from the Johnny Vaught-Paul Dietzel days, Ole Miss families that have handed down LSU hatred for just as long.
Youngsters didn’t have to be around when Billy Cannon ran that punt back on Halloween night or when the Rebels got revenge in the Sugar Bowl.
They didn’t have to be around when Archie Manning ran around and around and upset one of Charlie McClendon’s best teams. They didn’t have to be around when another Tigers team finally caught Archie as he ran around Tiger Stadium with a cast on his broken arm.
They didn’t have to be there when that clock operator in Tiger Stadium seemed a tad slow on the trigger and Bert Jones got 1 more second and 1 more play and Brad Davis snared Jones’ pass and fell into the end zone and Rusty Jackson kicked the extra point – and just like that, time stood still, and the Tigers escaped with a win.
Ole Miss coach Matt Luke is a former Ole Miss center, a 3rd-generation Rebel. His father, Tommy, was a Rebels defensive back in the 1960s. His brother, Tom, quarterbacked the Rebels from 1989-91.
“For my dad, this was the rivalry for a long time,” Matt Luke said Monday. “The winner of this game was the SEC champion. Hearing stories of Coach Vaught, growing up with the Billy Cannon run, LSU was the rivalry for him. It was obviously very important and a game I always grew up watching. It is very important to a lot of Ole Miss fans, and it is very important to us.”
It’s very important to the Tigers as well. LSU coach Ed Orgeron grew up in Louisiana bleeding purple and gold. He spent his whole adult life working toward his dream job, which he now has.
He knows the LSU-Ole Miss rivalry, not just as youngster growing up rooting for the Tigers to beat the Rebels. He also knows it as a former Ole Miss head coach who tried to beat the Tigers 3 times but never did.
“They put this game on their calendar,” Orgeron said of the Rebels. “This is a game that they want to win. This is rivalry game, for them, they want to beat LSU, this is a team they would like to beat, along with Mississippi State, and we know we’re going to get their best shot. They play great at home, it’s going to be a great crowd, it’s going to be a great challenge for our football team.”
No, coach Vaught won’t be on the home sideline and there isn’t a Manning playing quarterback. These Rebels are just 4-6, 2-4 in the SEC.
Outsiders might look at this and say it’s a textbook trap game, that the Tigers are due for a letdown after the Bama game, that they’ll probably overlook the Rebels.
Not a chance.
It’s Ole Miss week.
It’s a big deal.