Throwback Thursday: Rebels win the first 'Magnolia Bowl'
Two football teams fighting over a flower might seem silly to some people, but the Ole Miss-LSU rivalry — which was deemed the Magnolia Bowl in 2008 — is no laughing matter in Oxford and Baton Rouge.
The Rebels and Tigers will play in their 104th meeting since 1894 this Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. LSU leads the series 59-40-4 overall, but since 1938, this SEC West rivalry has been even closer with the Tigers leading 38-33-4.
The rivalry was one of the best in college football throughout the 1950s and 1960s but seemed to hit a lull between the 1970s and 1990s. To revitalize the hype surrounding the annual showdown, the student bodies of both schools elected to name the game the “Magnolia Bowl” because the magnolia is the state flower of both Louisiana and Mississippi.
And on Nov. 22, 2008, Ole Miss snapped a six-game losing streak against LSU by marching into Baton Rouge and coming away with a 31-13 victory over the No. 18-ranked Tigers to win the first-ever Magnolia Bowl trophy.
It was Houston Nutt’s first year as coach at Ole Miss, but he already had the Rebels playing at a high level. Ole Miss hadn’t been bowl-eligible since 2003 but won its sixth game in the week prior to the bout with LSU and rode that hot streak to an upset.
LSU had no answer for the Ole Miss “Wild Rebel” formation. Rebels quarterback Jevan Snead threw 2 touchdown passes to Mike Wallace, while Markeith Summers and Brandon Bolden each scored on the ground.
“He really had a breakout game and was so accurate,” Nutt said of Snead after the game. “He was hitting some passes that were awesome — critical first downs, touchdown throws … He is starting to come on as a real quarterback right now, and I’m excited about that.”
The Ole Miss defense was spectacular in this game as well, knocking Tigers starting quarterback Jarrett Lee out of the game in the second quarter and holding LSU to just one touchdown. The Rebels were committed to stopping the run and held LSU to just 37 yards on 29 carries.
“Hopefully a game like this establishes and earns us some respect as a defense,” Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said.
Only one season removed from a national championship, this was a very disappointing fourth loss of the season for LSU coach Les Miles and his team.
“I expected [us] to play better,” Miles said. “It will be really interesting to see how this team responds.”
The Tigers did not respond as well as Miles would have hoped. LSU lost its regular-season finale 31-30 to Arkansas and had to settle for a 7-5 record and a berth in Chick-fil-A Bowl against No. 14 Georgia Tech. LSU would end on a high note, beating the Yellow Jackets 38-3 in the bowl game.
Ole Miss went on to win out, including a 47-34 victory over No. 8 Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. Nutt’s team went 9-4 and finished 14th in the final Associated Press Poll.