This Saturday, Ole Miss will be traveling to Baton Rouge, LA, not for just bragging rights, but for sole possession of second place in the SEC West and a likely Cotton Bowl berth.
The LSU vs. Ole Miss rivalry has flown under the radar for the past decade, but it is indeed one of the most heated rivalries in the nation.
Nobody thinks of the Ole Miss vs. LSU rivalry as a national rivalry. Nobody besides LSU and Ole Miss fans remembers or tells the story of the Billy Cannon's run on Halloween 1959 that defeated Ole Miss. Nobody remembers three weeks later from that date where Ole Miss fought the Tigers in a rematch and defeated LSU 21-0 to claim their second of three current national titles.
The most recent national spotlight this rivalry had was in 2003, Eli Manning's senior year, when LSU and Ole Miss faced off in front of a CBS national audience and still a current Vaught Hemingway Stadium record of 62,552 fans.
You could argue this is where Ole Miss and LSU parted ways. LSU barely escaped with a 17-14 win and on their way to the SEC title, a national title as well. Ole Miss did make the Cotton Bowl, though, and defeated, ironically, Les Miles's Oklahoma State 31-28.
From then on, Ole Miss would go into a down period as they went 14-32 over the next four seasons ('04-'07). LSU went 43-9 over those next four seasons as well.
With the past five years, some people have forgotten really what the LSU vs. Ole Miss rivalry means. I'm guessing this week everyone wakes up and realizes that this has been a competitive rivalry although the differential records of both teams through the past five years.
If I were to go down the street and ask a random person what Ole Miss's record was at Tiger Stadium since 1990, I really wonder what they'd say. I'm sure I would hear a lot of 0'fers.
Since 1990, Ole Miss is 4-5 in arguably the nation's toughest stadium to play in college football. The reason people probably cannot understand how that is possible is probably over the past three times at Baton Rouge, Ole Miss was defeated.
People still believe this hasn't been a rivalry over the past decade though. Over those three losses at Tiger Stadium (2002, 2004, 2006), the scores have been 14-13, 27-24, and 23-20.
This rivalry has always had the thrill of close defeats, but just because LSU has over the past six seasons defeated Ole Miss and Ole Miss has had a series of down years ('04-'07), people forget that this is just as a hated rivalry as teams such as Texas vs. Oklahoma or Ohio State vs. Michigan.
Well, insert 2008.
Student governments for both LSU and Ole Miss both agreed that the rivalry needed some kind of token, some kind of trophy, so both agreed that LSU/Ole Miss game will annually be called the Magnolia Bowl.
Elizabeth Yerger, Director of Student Services for the Ole Miss Student Body, said about the rivalry, "Both schools believe that the Magnolia Bowl will bring out the livelihood, excitement, and traditions for not only the teams and fans, but for media outlets and football lovers around the country as well."
For the game itself, Ole Miss comes in riding a three game winning streak and claiming it's first bowl eligibility since, you guessed it, 2003. LSU, however, is on a down year in terms of their recent year's success, and barely defeating Troy when down at one point by 28 points either is a large defeat in some LSU fans eyes or a loss in itself.
Both find themself at different roads. Obviously, LSU feels a bit disappointed after starting the season 4-0, the Tigers are 3-3, started off by a 51-21 beat-down courtesy of the Florida Gators.
Ole Miss, after starting the season 3-4, have reeled off three straight wins versus Arkansas, Auburn, and most recently, a 59-0 win over Louisiana Monroe.
Will this be another turning point? Will LSU once again gain another close win on Ole Miss in Baton Rouge or will Ole Miss finally get the monkey off their back and get that program-hungry win?
Only one good ol' Saturday in November will tell.
Derek Stephens is the Ole Miss Community Leader for BleacherReport.com. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions in the comment box below.
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