Without fawning over the venue of an Ole Miss rival too much, there’s a reason LSU fans — and the college football community in general — perk up every time a nighttime kickoff at Tiger Stadium is announced.
The electric atmosphere has been enough to yield countless heartfelt, but eye-rolling, pieces over the years, but their actual performance on the field is impressive in its own right.
Since 2000, LSU has won 109 games and lost just 18 in Baton Rouge (80-38 elsewhere), with an average score of 34-15. Trimming the list down to just SEC games shows a still-noteworthy home record of 56-16 and average point differential of +10.
For whatever reason, Ole Miss has found a way to routinely overachieve in the intimidating confines of Tiger Stadium. You won’t find a ton of road upsets from the Rebels here, but they’ve kept things closer than most people expected. History suggests that this Saturday’s game could be closer than the 11-point spread.
All things considered, the Rebels have been a decent road dog in Baton Rouge.
Ole Miss has a 4-7 record at Death Valley since 1997, last winning behind some peak-Jevan Snead play in 2008. What’s less intuitive is that Ole Miss takes the edge in terms of average point differential (+2) over that same timespan, despite LSU being favored by an average of 11 points, via Odds Shark.
Ole Miss @ LSU Scores and Point Spreads, 1997-2016
|Oct 22, 2016||21-38||L||-8.5|
|Oct 25, 2014||7-10||L||3.5|
|Nov 17, 2012||35-41||L||-18|
|Nov 20, 2010||36-43||L||-14.5|
|Nov 22, 2008||31-13||W||-3|
|Nov 18, 2006||20-23||L||-28.5|
|Nov 20, 2004||24-27||L||-21|
|Nov 23, 2002||13-14||L||-9.5|
|Oct 27, 2001||35-24||W||-8.5|
|Oct 30, 1999||42-23||W||3.5|
|Oct 18, 1997||36-21||W||-16|
The four times Ole Miss has won, it’s been an average score of 36-20, twice benefiting from the Gerry DiNardo days of yore, but also beating a few real teams. They upset a 2001 Saban-coached team that made the Sugar Bowl that year, and dismantled a 2008 team suffering from a post-title hangover under Les Miles.
Most of LSU’s recent home victories against the Rebs have been surprisingly close over the last 20 or so years, including the time they outlasted that obscene 2014 Ole Miss defense, 10-7, the first time the Tigers were the home underdog in the matchup since 1999. The only time they won by more than a touchdown at home over the last 20 years was the 38-21 debacle two years ago, in which a Leonard Fournette run to the second level pretty much always guaranteed a Leonard Fournette touchdown.
A few of the Rebels’ other losses at Death Valley are oddly impressive, like when Hugh Freeze’s 2012 team led for much of the game and lost by just six, despite being an 18-point underdog (I only bring this up to remind you that Bo Wallace once outran future NFL defenders on a 58-yard read option).
When Ed Orgeron was being paid millions by Ole Miss to lose lots of games, his 2004 and 2006 teams were both underdogs by more than 20 points at LSU, yet somehow only lost by a field goal each time. This brings up an important point.
This is not even close to the saddest Ole Miss squad to roll into Baton Rouge.
Even when factoring in the bowl ban, there’s more reason to watch the 2018 Rebels than at least a handful of these Ole Miss teams that were expected to get murdered at Death Valley. Considering the Rebels are 9-2 against the spread at LSU in recent years, it’s not insane to think they could at least make this interesting.
Whether you look at the numbers or just remember that Ed Orgeron is head coach, there’s reason to think LSU could underwhelm on Saturday. They’re still favored to win—the Vegas spread is 11 points and S&P+ predicts a 9.7-point margin—but Ole Miss is set up nicely to continue surprising people.