Ole Miss hosts the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks on Saturday, in a game that should see the Rebs enforce their will early and often — at least on offense. At least if they show up to enforce their will and the Warhawks’ defensive unit doesn’t stymy the Rebels’ offensive attack.
Curiously, Ole Miss and ULM never met on a football field until 2002, when the Rebs modestly beat the ‘Hawks, 31-3. They played again in 2003, when Ole Miss rang up 59 points to the Warhawks’ 14. In 2008 they got together again, and Ole Miss annihilated ULM, 59-0. Those are the only three meetings between these clubs, according to Winsipedia.
By way of comparison, Ole Miss has faced Louisiana-Lafayette just five times — the first bout occurring in 1986 — and the Rebs have not lost to the Ragin’ Cajuns, ever (PAAAWWWLLL). Given that SEC teams tend to throw cupcake neighbors onto their schedules early in the season, it’s curious that Ole Miss hasn’t faced off with the other Louisiana teams more often.
So let’s take a look at how Ole Miss’ three previous games with ULM went down.
Let’s first point out that in terms of sheer points, Ole Miss holds a 149-17 advantage over ULM across three games.
The Rebs took down the Warhawks in Oxford, 31-3, on the opening weekend of the 2002 season. Eli Manning threw for just 192 yards, one touchdown and one pick, with a 54.8 completion percentage. He was merely a junior, and David Cutcliffe elected for a more conservative offensive game-plan involving an emphasis on the run.
Ole Miss RB Robert Williams took 18 rushes for 100 yards and two TDs that day. The defense also showed up in a real way, holding ULM to 228 total yards through the air and on the ground, and forced two turnovers. The Rebel D also induced EIGHT (8) Warhawks punts, which resulted in ULM punter Tyler Kuecker amassing 299 yards of total punting distance. He also made a field goal, and missed another one.
The two teams’ second foray turned out far worse for ULM. After the first quarter the game was tied, 7-7, sure, but Ole Miss would go on to dump 52 points on top of the Warhawks over the next three frames, including 21 in the third quarter alone. Manning threw three touchdowns behind 353 yards through the air to end the day with a passer rating of 232.9.
He averaged 16 yards per attempt.
Better still, because Ole Miss got up on ULM with a swiftness through the middle of the proceedings, Eli got pulled with enough time left for Michael Spurlock to take the field. Yes, that Michael Spurlock, who played three years at Ole Miss, accumulating 179 completions on 345 attempts for a 51.9 completion percentage. He tallied nine career touchdown passes in Oxford, against nine interceptions.
Here’s his stat line from his relief work against ULM in 2003.
Astounding. ULM was so porous that day that the Warhawks made Michael Spurlock look like Eli Manning. Make no joke, though: Spurlock was a legit passing and running threat; he just didn’t have Eli’s receivers. Long live Michael Spurlock. He kicked ass.
2003 was a fun, strange year in Rebel football fandom.
Ten years ago this December, Ole Miss topped Texas Tech, 47-34, in the Cotton Bowl under the guidance of Houston Nutt. Seven weeks earlier, Nutt’s outfit demolished ULM in support of a season record that would end with nine wins and four losses. That there is the climax of Nutt’s stay in Oxford.
And that there is also the last time that ULM traveled to Oxford for its seasonal buy game. Jevon Snead threw 6-of-12 for 170 yards and three touchdowns, but the ground game stood up for five rushing touchdowns among four different runners. Snead took in two himself.
As a postscript: ULM punted nine (9) times in the 2008 affair, but netted just 349 yards of field position. That’s just 38.8 yards per boot, and it clearly wasn’t enough to keep Ole Miss from reaching the end zone eight times on the day.