LSU vs. Ole Miss score, takeaways: No. 12 Rebels throttle Tigers keeping hopes of SEC West crown alive

Snoop Connor ran for 117 yards, Jerrion Ealy added 97 yards and a touchdown, and No. 12 Ole Miss throttled LSU 31-17 on a special day in Oxford, Mississippi, as legendary quarterback Eli Manning's number was retired. The Rebels continued their trek toward the top 10 and a potential SEC West crown, though they will need some help to get there.

Ole Miss gave up a 1-yard touchdown to LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price on the first drive of the game and failed to score on its first two drives of the game. One field goal and four touchdowns later, the Rebels had built a 31-7 third quarter lead as the Tigers turned to their backups for some mop up duty. 

Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral tossed a 2-yard touchdown to Casey Kelly and ran one in from 3 yards out to make it a 17-7 game at halftime. Henry Parrish Jr. had a 5-yard touchdown scamper, and Jerrion Ealy scored from 36 yards out on third-and-12 to put the game out of reach.

Rebels coach Lane Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby clearly saw something on tape they could exploit on third-and-long. They either converted first downs or scored touchdowns on third down and 10 or more yards three separate times, all of which played massive roles in the game getting out of hand.

Corral finished the afternoon 18 of 23 for 185 yards and a touchdown, adding 24 yards rushing and one rushing score after getting banged up last week in the win over Tennessee.

Here are the top takeaways from Ole Miss' win over LSU.

Ole Miss defense must build on this

The Rebels defense was lights out on Saturday in a way that we haven't seen in a long time. After giving up a touchdown on the opening drive of the game -- one that was likely scripted -- it shut out the Tigers despite the fact that LSU came in with a ton of confidence after an offensive explosion last week. 

The middle 10 -- the last 5 minutes of the first half and the first 5 minutes of the second half -- can be the most critical part of a football game. The Rebels held the Tigers to two three-and-outs and a one-play drive to end the half during that segment of the game. Ole Miss then followed it up with a pair of fumble recoveries surrounding a three-and-out. That's the kind of situational defense that Ole Miss needs to be elite. 

Now, it's time to keep it going. It's clear at this point that the offense is a weapon that most teams can't slow down. The best chance opponents have at beating Ole Miss is to get into a shootout. That's nearly impossible if the Rebels defense plays like the 1985 Bears when it matters most. 

College Football Playoff contender?

Is it time to think about Ole Miss as a threat to make the College Football Playoff? Yep. It sits tied with Alabama and Auburn atop the SEC West, doesn't hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Alabama and has Auburn on the Plains next week. A berth in the SEC Championship Game is still in play -- especially in a three-way tie situation. 

Even if that doesn't happen, a one-loss non-division champion that conceivably would have wins over a ranked Auburn team on the road and another ranked Texas A&M team at home would almost certainly have a good case considering the chaos we've seen in the sport through eight weeks.

That chaos could continue too. No. 3 Oklahoma struggled with Kansas, No. 2 Cincinnati struggled with Navy and every team other than top-ranked Georgia has shown various levels of imperfection.

Expect LSU to spiral

The school announced its impending separation from Orgeron one day after the thrilling win over Florida. That suggested that the season could go in one of two ways. The Tigers could have played inspired football now that there's a sense of finality -- let's be honest, the players knew this was coming when they topped the Gators -- or the season of tumult could spiral out of control. A loss like this given the situation that the program finds itself in screams "disaster".

That's OK, though. The talented players on LSU's roster still have plenty for which to play -- specifically either for NFL scouts or for the new coaching staff to see on tape once a new leader is named. That likely means that, in certain situations, the mindset and goals of individual players might be more important than the overall outcome of the team.  It's on Orgeron to prevent that from happening as much as possible. But that's not an easy task.

Heisman Trophy favorite?

Corral can do it all. He had 30 carries against Tennessee last week and was averaging 288 yards per game through the air coming into the game. He also takes great care of the football and is as tough as nails despite not being the biggest dude in the world. That should earn him the designation of being the Heisman Trophy favorite for the second time this season.

Corral saw that title disappear in the loss to Alabama, but that wasn't his fault. He completed 72.4% of his passes, didn't throw a pick and had two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) against the Crimson Tide.

After all, who else is in the discussion?

Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler and Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei -- the two favorites heading into the season -- have both been benched. Georgia has rocketed to the top of the AP Top 25 with two different signal callers and its best player being nose guard Jordan Davis. USC QB Kedon Slovis hasn't lived up to expectations, and the majority of the true contenders -- outside of Alabama QB Bryce Young -- don't sling the rock. 

It's a quarterback-driven award that doesn't have many quarterbacks in contention. A signal-caller who puts up video game numbers for a CFP contender seems like a good resume to me. 

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@OleMissFB via Twitter
October 23, 2021, 11:02 PM
@LSUfootball via Twitter
October 23, 2021, 10:51 PM
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October 23, 2021, 10:07 PM

Third down runs all day

The Rebels have converted three third downs on third-and-long this year, and the last of which was for six. Jerrion Ealy went 36 yards for the score on third-and-12 to make it a 31-7 game in Oxford. It's clear at this point that coach Lane Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby saw something on tape that made them think that they can exploit the Tigers on the ground on third-and-long. On this one, Ealy juked a defender, stiff-armed another and cruised into the end zone in what looks like it could be the score that puts this game on ice.

@OleMissFB via Twitter
October 23, 2021, 9:46 PM

Ground game makes it a 24-7 game

No. 12 Ole Miss is cruising now. Henry Parrish Jr. punched it in from five yards out to cap off a very impressive drive from the Rebels offense. Jerrion Ealy converted a third-and-12 with a 13-yard run to move the chains deep into LSU territory and Matt Corral scrambled for a four-yard gain on fourth-and-three to get deep into the red zone. This is a huge drive coming up for the Tigers. An empty possession could signal the end for Ed Orgeron's crew. 

@OleMissFB via Twitter
October 23, 2021, 9:33 PM

Ole Miss defense comes up big

The Rebels defense continues to shine in Oxford. Chance Campbell sacked Max Johnson on a delayed blitz on third-and-3 to force a three-and-out on the first drive of the second half. It's danger zone for LSU right now. With the Rebels up two scores and the ball, at home and with an explosive offense, the last thing that coach Ed Orgeron needs is to go down three scores in front of a hostile crowd.

@OleMissFB via Twitter
October 23, 2021, 9:30 PM
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October 23, 2021, 9:12 PM
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