BATON ROUGE, La. | Houston Nutt's debut season at Mississippi is going so well he might win three "bowl" games by the time it's over.
Jevan Snead threw two touchdown passes, Markeith Summers ran for a 13-yard score out of the "Wild Rebel" formation and Ole Miss won its fourth straight game, 31-13 against No. 18 LSU on Saturday in a rivalry game newly dubbed the Magnolia Bowl.
Next comes the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State. After that, perhaps the Cotton Bowl. It's more than vindication for Nutt, who was unwanted by many Arkansas fans when he left the Razorbacks last season. He's taking pride in the joy he's brought to a program that hasn't been bowl eligible since 2003.
"To see the players and the joy on their faces — to me — that is why you are in it," Nutt said after emerging from the visitors' locker room at Tiger Stadium. "There are some seniors in there that love football right now."
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Ole Miss (7-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) snapped a six-game losing streak against LSU (7-4, 3-4) with its first win in the long rivalry since 2001.
It also gave the Rebels the inside track to second-place in the SEC West, which could result in a Cotton Bowl bid.
Snead was 16-of-25 for 274 yards. His scoring passes went for 34 and 25 yards, both to Mike Wallace.
"He really had a breakout game and was so accurate," Nutt said of his quarterback, a transfer from Texas. "He was hitting some passes that were awesome — critical first downs, touchdown throws ... He is starting to come on as a real quarterback right now and I'm excited about that."
Ole Miss was dominant on defense as well, knocking LSU starting quarterback Jarrett Lee out of the game and holding the Tigers to only one touchdown. The Rebels committed to shutting down LSU's powerful running game, holding the Tigers to 37 yards on 29 carries. They dared LSU's young quarterbacks to throw and the Tigers could not answer the challenge. Ole Miss had four sacks.
"Hopefully a game like this establishes and earns us some respect as a defense," Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said.
Lee was 4-of-12 for 49 yards and one interception before he was sidelined with a right ankle injury late in the first half. Jordan Jefferson came on in relief and was 10-of-20 for 129 yards, one TD pass and one interception. He was sacked three times, the final time when LSU tried to pass on fourth-and-23 in the fourth quarter.
Only one season after its second BCS national championship of this decade, LSU has now lost four games for the first time since 2002, when the Tigers were 8-5 under former coach Nick Saban, now the coach of top-ranked Alabama.
"I expected (us) to play better," LSU coach Les Miles said. "It will be really interesting to see how this team responds."
While there will be no national championship this season for the Tigers, LSU took time on its 2008 home finale to honor its first consensus national championship squad, which starred All-American Billy Cannon in 1958. Cannon, who won the 1959 Heisman Trophy and will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame next month, was honored on the field after the first quarter. He saluted an appreciative crowd while his retired No. 20 was unveiled from the facade of an upper deck.
Sitting in the suite just below Cannon's number was Y.A. Tittle, who played for LSU in the mid-1940s before a Hall of Fame career in the NFL.
Cannon and Tittle had been part of memorable contests between these rivals from neighboring states, who were playing for the 97th time. But the only people celebrating after this one were fans dressed in red who bounced in the stands near the corner of an end zone while the Ole Miss band played.
They hailed Nutt, who last year nearly derailed LSU's national title campaign when he coached Arkansas to a triple-overtime upset victory in Tiger Stadium.
This one wasn't nearly as dramatic. Ole Miss scored first for the 10th time in 11 games and never trailed.
"I always love coming down here," Nutt said. "I love this atmosphere. It is big-time football."
LSU got crossed up in pass coverage on third-and-17, leaving Wallace wide open over the middle for his 34-yard TD.
Colt David's 46-yard field goal made it 7-3. But Ole Miss struck back when Nutt called for a fake punt on fourth-and-4. Upback Jason Cook cut off the long snap and passed to Kendrick Lewis for a 33-yard gain to the LSU 5. Soon after, Brandon Bolden's 3-yard run made it 14-3.
Snead's pinpoint loft down the sideline to Wallace in the end zone made it 21-3.
Lee's injury occurred on LSU's next series. His right leg bent awkwardly as he was taken down by defensive tackle Jerry Peria just after releasing a first-down throw to Brandon LaFell. Lee remained in uniform for the second half, but Miles said he doubted Lee would be able to play at Arkansas on Friday.
Jefferson came on in relief and threw his 9-yard TD pass to Terrance Toliver four plays later, pulling LSU to 21-10 before halftime. David's 52-yard field goal on the opening series of the second half made it 21-13. The momentum appeared to be shifting, but Nutt has this Ole Miss squad playing with too much confidence to fold.
Snead recognized another breakdown in LSU coverage and hit a wide open Lionel Breaux down the left sideline for 39-yards to the Tigers 16. Three plays later, the single wing formation known at Ole Miss as the "Wild Rebel" produced points when Summers took a handoff from Dexter McCluster and ran around the left end to make it 28-13.
"Whenever you answer and particularly in someone else's backyard and in front of this type of hostile crowd it sends a real message," Nutt said. "Our guys really had that type of attitude and when you do that it gives your team a lift tremendously on the field and on the sideline."