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A brief history of the Ole Miss-LSU rivalry, which started in 1894

The Magnolia Bowl goes way back.

Mississippi v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Ole Miss and LSU have played football against each other 105 times. Just one of those meetings was a non-regular season contest: the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day of 1960, when Ole Miss prevailed, 21-0. The Rebs were at the time ranked No. 2, the Tigers No. 3, and LSU had beaten Ole Miss, 7-3, in the regular season.

Ole Miss’ defensive effort that day may have been the best showing in the history of bowl games. They held LSU to 74 total yards, -15 yards rushing, and never allowed the Tigers inside their own 38-yard line. Johnny Vaught’s tacklers came to play.

According to Winsipedia, the series record between Ole Miss and LSU currently sits at 60-41-4 in favor of LSU. They’ve traded wins over the last four meetings, with LSU beating the Rebs in Baton Rouge in 2016, 38-21. The longest winning streak between the teams remains LSU’s eight-straight from 1928 to 1937, a stretch in which Ole Miss scored just 15 points total (they didn’t play each other in 1932 or 1935). The Rebs were completely shut out on five of those occasions. What a time.

What got us thinking about writing this post is that the LSU game feels unnecessarily early this year. It used to be the Rebs’ last conference game before the Egg Bowl, or very nearly their last SEC bout, occurring in early to mid-November. But in going back and looking at the recent history of the Magnolia Bowl, it appears that this weekend in October has established itself as the norm. Certainly when I was a student, the game took place on Nov. 22 of 2002 and Nov. 23 of 2003. Up until 2013, it did happen on that weekend in November. In 2013 it jumped forward by a full month of the season, and that must have been disorienting.

We’re approaching Halloween, of course. On Halloween of 1961, Ole Miss and LSU played to a 27-27 tie in Jackson, the traditional seat of the Magnolia Bowl when hosted in Mississippi. Oxford hosted here and there, but Jackson was generally where these teams played each other up until the mid-90s — 1994, to be exact — when Ole Miss moved hosting duties to Oxford full-time. Interestingly, LSU has hosted the game remarkably more often than Ole Miss, whether it be in New Orleans or Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge in fact hosted their first meeting, on Dec. 3, 1894. There was a stretch from 1936 to 1951 that LSU hosted 14 times in a row. The Tigers went 7-6-1 across those consecutive contests.

Where LSU owns the longest win streak in rivalry history with eight straight, Ole Miss’ longest win streak is six, from 1952 to 1957. The most lopsided LSU win went down in Oxford in 2011, when the Tigers whipped the hell out of Houston Nutt and company, 52-3. Ole Miss’ largest margin of victory is just a 37-3 win in 1963. Strangely enough, it took them until 1951 to record the rivalry’s first tie, a 6-6 club-fest in Baton Rouge, which happened to be the last of 14-straight meetings in that fine city.

Their second meeting, in 1896 in Vicksburg (they took 1895 off for some reason), ended with a score of 12-4 in favor of LSU. First, TWELVE. And second, FOUR. Without consulting any record books, let’s assume LSU won with six safeties to Ole Miss’ two. After all, in those days, any form of offense was considered CARPETBAGGER HOGWASH I DO DECLARE.

The series took yet another break (Jefferson Pilot didn’t have power back then that it had in the mid-to-late 1990s), but resumed in 1899 with a contest in Meridian. MERIDIAN, MISSISSIPPI. If you’re scoring at home, that’s consecutive Ole Miss/LSU games that took place in Vicksburg and Meridian. MY WORD, Y’ALL.

Can you imagine a scenario today in which the schools announced the 2021/2022 games would be played in Vicksburg and Meridian? People would live-tweet their aneurysms, buildings would be burned, and Joe Alleva would get a $3 million raise, complete with a $56 million buyout. I say, DRAW UP THE DOCUMENTS. LET’S PLAY THE DAMN THINGS.

In 1904, the Tigers won, 5-0. In 1926, the game ended 3-0 for LSU. What we’re getting at here is that the early instances of the Magnolia Bowl were sordidly low-scoring affairs, with the lone exception of a 46-0 LSU beatdown of Ole Miss in 1901 in Baton Rouge. Sure, why not.

Since 1961, the year after the 6-6 tie, one or the other participant has reached double digits in every contest. The all-time highest scoring game between them came fairly recently, in 2010, a 43-36 win for LSU, resulting in 79 combined points on the day.

This year LSU opened as seven-point favorites. That’s laughably aribtrary, because face it: no one has a single clue how this thing’s going to go down.