Ole Miss fans set new attendance record
By By Will Bardwell/staff writer
November 23, 2003
OXFORD The Ole Miss-LSU matchup on Saturday drew a boisterous, overflowing crowd the likes of which had never been seen on the Rebels' home turf. Official attendance for the game was 62,552 a new record for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The old record for an Ole Miss home game in Oxford was 61,140, which was set in 2002 versus Florida.
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium's official capacity is 60,580.
The game was one of the most anticipated in Ole Miss history. Tickets were a rare, expensive commodity, with pairs going for upwards of $1,000 on the Internet.
The Ole Miss offense, that led the Southeastern Conference in scoring before Saturday, was virtually nonexistent in the first half against LSU. The Tigers defense still has not yielded points in the first and second quarters in any of their 11 games.
The Rebels gained just 11 rushing yards in the first half, and quarterback Eli Manning threw for 68 yards on 8-of-17 passing.
Ole Miss held the ball for just under 10 of the first 30 minutes, and converted just one of its seven third-down opportunities in the first half.
Ole Miss failed to capture its first SEC West division title on Saturday with its 17-14 loss to LSU. With both teams at 6-1 in the SEC and one game remaining for both programs, the Tigers control their own destiny.
LSU can win the division with either a win over Arkansas on Friday or an Ole Miss loss to Mississippi State on Thursday night.
The Rebels, who controlled their own destiny all season before Saturday, need to beat Mississippi State and Arkansas to upset LSU on Friday.
Scoring streak stopped
For the first time in nine games, the Rebels failed to come away with points after their first possession on Saturday. After just one first down, Ole Miss was forced to punt the ball away to the Tigers in the game's first minute.
And though the Rebels did not score on their first possession, they did score on LSU's first possession. On the Tigers' first snap, cornerback Travis Johnson intercepted LSU quarterback Matt Mauck and ran six yards for Ole Miss' first touchdown of the day.
Penalties came often for the Tigers, but unlike a week earlier in a blowout over Alabama, the miscues almost came back to hurt LSU on Saturday. The Tigers committed four penalties on third down in the first half, often turning third-and-short into obvious passing situations.
LSU finished the day with 10 penalties, costing the Tigers 70 yards. Ole Miss was flagged just four times, losing 30 yards.
Field goal defense
Ole Miss kicker Johnathan Nichols, one of the nation's most reliable this season, missed twice as many field goals on Saturday two as he had over the Rebels' first 10 games. He was not the first kicker to struggle against LSU, though. In 11 games, the Tigers' opponents have hit just five of their 14 field goal attempts.