The seventh-ranked LSU Tigers survived a scare in Death Valley against the Ole Miss Rebels by edging their SEC opponents 41-35 with a last-minute touchdown on Saturday night.
Despite having just 67 yards on the ground in the first half, the Tigers only trailed the Rebels by a 21-17 margin at halftime. The second half was much of the same, though. Ole Miss clamped down on the run, allowing just 79 yards, forcing quarterback Zach Mettenberger to beat them.
Leading 21-20 well into the third quarter, the Rebels elected to go for it on 4th-and-3. They got it, and scored two plays later on a six-yard touchdown run by Randall Mackey.
The Tigers wasted little time, responding on their next drive.
Mettenberger accepted the challenge and led the Tigers down the field to bring the game within a 28-26 margin with eleven minutes left to play. After scoring easily, Les Miles dialed up a two-point conversion play that easily tied things up at 28 and dramatically shifted momentum back in the Tigers’ favor.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, Ole Miss didn’t cower at the challenge.
Bo Wallace led his team back down the field to answer quickly to take a 35-28 lead. The Rebels burned nearly no time off the clock in the process, scoring in just four plays. Wallace completed passes of 35 and 30 yards to put Ole Miss back on top.
After a failed possession by each team, Ole Miss punted the ball back to the Tigers. Bad idea. Odell Beckham took a 50-yard Rebels punt back 89 yards to knot the game at 35.
Ole Miss kicker Bryson Rose missed a 53-yard field goal and the Tigers took the ball down the field with great field position and punched in a game-winning touchdown to avoid the upset.
ESPN Stats and Info set the tone for what was to be an exciting and close game in Death Valley.
Since 2000, LSU has hosted Ole Miss 6 times. Hasn't been easy: lost 2 of them and won other 4 by 7 points or fewer.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 17, 2012
The official Twitter handle of LSU Tigers football updated us in the second quarter after LSU took the lead. It was their last lead until pulling ahead with under 30 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.
LSU leads Ole Miss 17-14 with 9:57 left in the 2nd Qtr. The TD run was the 1st of the year for Ware. #LSURoar— LSU Football (@LSUfball) November 17, 2012
Heading into the fourth quarter, Michael Bonnette, the Sports Information Director at LSU, gave us a fun fact about his Tigers.
. @lsufball has 19 4th quarter comebacks under Les Miles, including 2 vs. Ole Miss (2006, 2010) - both in Tiger Stadium.— Michael Bonnette (@LSUBonnette) November 17, 2012
Bleacher Report’s own assistant college football editor Eric Bowman gave the Tigers a little advice in the fourth quarter.
Umm, LSU, you realize you're playing Ole Miss....right? #stepyourgameup— Eric Bowman (@E_ROCK12) November 17, 2012
LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. took Bowman’s advice to heart, returning a punt 89 yards for a TD just moments later.
TOUCHDOWN LSU! Odell Beckham Jr. returned a punt 89 yards for the score! #LSURoar— LSU Football (@LSUfball) November 17, 2012
Despite the scare, the LSU faithful were proud when all was said and done!
"Our worth in life will be thy worthwe pray to keep it true & may thy spirit live in us FOREVER LSU!" #LSU— LSU students (@LSUstudents) November 18, 2012