Local Athletics

Published on September 29th, 2023 | by TLV News


Ole Miss vs. LSU Football Game Preview

LSU Helmet RightLSU (3-1, 2-0 SEC) vs. Ole Miss (3-1, 0-1 SEC)
Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023 • 5 p.m. CT
Oxford, Miss. • Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Rebel Rankings: AP: #20 | Coaches: #20
Tiger Rankings: AP: #13 | Coaches: #12

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• This is the 112th meeting all-time between Ole Miss and LSU dating back to 1894 … LSU is Ole Miss’ second-most played opponent behind Mississippi State, who the Rebels will play for the 119th time this November.
• LSU holds a 65-41-4 advantage in the series, including an 11-8-1 mark in Oxford … The original series record is 65-42-4 in favor of LSU, with Ole Miss’ 2013 victory in Oxford vacated due to NCAA ruling.
• Since the rivals started played for the Magnolia Bowl trophy in 2008, LSU holds a 10-4 edge.
• This is the 11th meeting all-time with both teams ranked at the same time … LSU leads such games, 7-3.
• Ole Miss is 69-171-2 all-time versus ranked opponents … Ole Miss won at No. 22 Tulane on Sept. 9.
• LB Suntarine Perkins leads all SEC freshmen and is tied for the FBS national lead among freshmen with 3.0 sacks.
• WR Zakhari Franklin made his Ole Miss debut at No. 12 Alabama … Franklin is the FBS active career leader in receptions (263) and ranks second in receiving yards (3,364).
• QB Jaxson Dart leads the SEC in yards per attempt (16.9, No. 8 FBS) and QB rushing (54.8 ypg, No. 14 FBS).
• RB Quinshon Judkins is tied for No. 8 all-time at Ole Miss with 20 career rushing touchdowns.
• Ole Miss has two non-offensive TDs this season: a 70-yard punt return vs. Mercer (WR Jordan Watkins) and a 26-yard fumble return on a sack fumble at Tulane (DE Jared Ivey).
• Ole Miss is averaging 22.4 seconds per play this season, good for No. 5 in the FBS.
• The Rebel defense has at least 6.0 TFL in each game this season … Ole Miss ranks 11th FBS in both sacks and TFL.
• Of the 126 total players on the roster, 58 (46%) are brand-new for 2023 … 31 (24.6%) are transfers.
• DE Cedric Johnson was awarded the Chucky Mullins Courage Award and will wear a No. 38 patch this season.


Lane Kiffin is in his fourth season at Ole Miss, where he has led the Rebels to three consecutive bowl berths to start off his time in Oxford. In 11 years at the NCAA level, Kiffin has posted an all-time record of 87-48, including a 26-14 mark at Ole Miss. The Rebels ranked No. 3 nationally in rushing offense (256.6) and No. 8 in total offense (496.4) last season. Kiffin helped mentor and recruit talented true freshman running back Quinshon Judkins, who set the Ole Miss single-season records in both rushing yards (1,567) and rushing touchdowns (16). Kiffin guided the Rebels to a 10-3 record in 2021, the first 10-win regular season in school history. The Rebels finished the season ranked No. 11 in both the AP and AFCA Coaches Poll, its highest final ranking since 2016. Ole Miss ranked top-20 in the FBS in nine different offensive categories in his first season in 2020. In December 2016, Kiffin took over an FAU program that had won a total of nine combined games over the previous three seasons. Kiffin proceeded to take the Owls to new heights over the last three years, including two conference titles and two 10-win seasons. In his head coaching stops at USC, Tennessee and FAU, Kiffin has shown a propensity in helping turn programs around. Kiffin graduated from Fresno State in 1998 after playing quarterback for three seasons (1994-96) for the Bulldogs. He began his coaching career as a student assistant at Fresno State under Pat Hill in 1997 and 1998. 


Brian Kelly enters his second year with the Tigers in 2023, inheriting a roster with only 39 scholarship players, and quickly turning LSU into a 10-win team in his first year in 2022. Kelly is the most accomplished hire in LSU football history, taking over the program after 12 years and 113 wins at Notre Dame. He owns a 297-102-2 career mark (32 years) after posting a 10-4 record in 2022. Kelly’s coaching resume includes a total of 11 seasons with 10 wins at the FBS level (seven at Notre Dame, three at Cincinnati, one at LSU), along with 14 bowl/CFP playoff appearances and three National Coach of the Year honors (2009 at Cincinnati, 2012 and 2018 at Notre Dame). Kelly’s record includes a 113-40 mark at Notre Dame, where he’s the winningest coach in school history; 34-6 at Cincinnati (4 years), 19-16 at Central Michigan (3 years) and 118-35-2 at Grand Valley State (13 years). He won two Division II National Championships at Grand Valley State and is the winningest active coach in college football.


LSU enters the week 3-1 overall and 2-0 in SEC play, and is coming off an exciting 34-31 back-and-forth victory against Arkansas on Sept. 23. The Tigers are ranked No. 12 in the AFCA Coaches Poll and No. 13 in the AP rankings. Their lone loss of the year came in their season-opener against No. 8 Florida State, a 45-24 loss at the Camping World Kickoff game. LSU is led by dual-threat quarterback Jayden Daniels, who leads the SEC in passing yards, passing touchdowns, passing efficiency, yards per completion and total offense, highlighting the SEC’s top-ranked offense in scoring (42.8 ppg) and total offense (530.0 ypg). Daniels has two dynamic options in the passing game in national top-15 receivers Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr., who both average more than 100 yards per game receiving. Helping supplement that offense is extreme discipline on both sides of the ball, as LSU is the SEC’s least-penalized team with just 15 flags this season.


• This game marks the 112th all-time meeting between the Ole Miss Rebels and LSU Tigers dating back to 1894.
• LSU holds a 65-41-4 advantage in the series, including an 11-8-1 mark in Oxford.
• The original record is 65-42-4 in favor of LSU, with Ole Miss’ 2013 victory in Oxford vacated due to NCAA ruling.
• LSU is Ole Miss’ second-most played opponent behind Mississippi State, whom the Rebels will play for the 119th time
on Nov. 23.
• Since the rivals started playing for the Magnolia Bowl trophy in 2008, LSU holds a 10-4 edge … Ole Miss’ win in 2013
was vacated due to NCAA ruling.
• The home team has won nine of the last 11 meetings on the field.
• This will be the 11th all-time meeting with both the Rebels and Tigers simultaneously ranked, and the first since 2016 … LSU leads 7-3 in such games.


In 2008, student governments from Ole Miss and LSU worked to enhance the spirit of the football rivalry and introduced the Magnolia Bowl. After first garnering the support of the universities’ athletics departments and alumni associations, student leaders set forth in April 2008 with a “Name that Rivalry” campaign for students to provide input on the name via text messaging. The student governments then voted in their respective Student Senates. LSU holds a 10-4 edge in Magnolia Bowl meetings, with Ole Miss’ win in 2013 being vacated due to NCAA ruling. The Rebels prevailed 31-13 in the initial playing of the Magnolia Bowl.


• Ole Miss ranks No. 20 in both the Associated Press poll and the Coaches poll for Week Five.
• Dating back to 2021, Ole Miss has been ranked in the top 25 in 34 of the last 36 poll releases … That includes a streak of 29 across 2021 and 2022, the longest streak since being ranked for 41 straight weeks from 2014-16.
• The SEC boasts seven teams in the top 25 of both polls.


This weekend, Ole Miss will welcome back its 2003 team that won the 2004 Cotton Bowl Classic and a share of the 2003 SEC West title for its 20-year reunion. That team, which was led by eventual Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning and was coached by David Cutcliffe, will be in attendance and recognized at halftime. In 2003, Cutcliffe guided the Rebels, who many picked to finish fifth in the SEC’s Western Division, to a 10-3 overall mark and a share of the SEC West title with eventual BCS National Champion LSU. The title was the Rebels’ first league football title of any sort since winning the conference crown in 1963. Following their 31-28 victory over Oklahoma State in the SBC Cotton Bowl Classic, the Rebels ended the 2003 campaign with a No. 13 national ranking. It was Ole Miss’ first New Year’s bowl since the 1991 Gator Bowl against Michigan. Manning finished third in Heisman Trophy voting that season after putting up what was then a school record 3,600 yards passing alongside 29 touchdowns and a 62.4 percent completion rate.


Vaught-Hemingway Stadium has been a safe haven for the Rebels historically, owning a 294-115-8 (.715) record all-time in Oxford, and that’s been no different in the Kiffin era. Since 2020, Ole Miss has gone 16-5 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which includes a 14-game home winning streak that spanned Nov. 14, 2020 to Oct. 15, 2022. That streak was among the longest home winning streaks nationally when it was snapped by No. 9 Alabama last November. It was also the longest winning streak in Oxford since winning 21 straight games from Nov. 1, 1952 to Nov. 7, 1959. Including a tie to LSU in 1960, the Rebels went unbeaten for 34 games over the course of 12 years (1952-64). Ole Miss finished the 2021 campaign with a perfect 7-0 home record, its first undefeated season at home (on the field) since 1992 when the Rebels finished 6-0 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The 2021 season was also the first time that Ole Miss won seven on-campus games within the same season, which included a 31-17 win over LSU on Oct. 23.


Freshman LB Suntarine Perkins was a highly-touted recruit nationally as the No. 1 overall player in Mississippi and the No. 2 linebacker in the country, and he has already become a staple of the Landshark defense through four collegiate games played. Perkins shined in his debut against Mercer on Sept. 2, leading all Rebels with nine tackles off the bench, including four solo and one solo sack, in Ole Miss’ 73-7 rout of the Bears. Perkins was also a one-man wrecking crew for the Rebels in Tuscaloosa against No. 12 Alabama on Sept. 23, charting 2.5 tackles for loss and two solo sacks for a whopping loss of 21 yards. With his team-leading 3.0 sacks, Perkins is tied for the FBS lead among all freshmen and leads all SEC freshmen. At Raleigh High School, Perkins was a one-man wrecking crew, leading RHS to its first state title in 2022 as both its star running back and linebacker. In the state title game, Perkins ran 32 times for 331 yards and four touchdowns while also contributing six tackles and an interception on the other side of the ball. In his high school career, Perkins totaled more than 5,000 all-purpose yards, including 2,078 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on the ground as a senior. As a linebacker, he tallied 267 total tackles and 10 sacks in his high school career.


Ole Miss has notched at least 6.0 tackles for loss in each of its first four games, as well as at least 4.0 sacks in three of four contests, and have done so with a wide range of defenders getting in on the action. A total of 11 Rebels have contributed to a quarterback sack, while 18 have chipped in on a TFL. And all that mayhem is paying off, with three forced fumbles (including a Khari Coleman sack fumble returned for a TD by Jared Ivey vs. Tulane), three interceptions, 17 QB hurries,15 pass breakups and a blocked field goal. In the Kiffin era, Ole Miss has recorded multiple sacks in 28 games, at least 5.0 tackles for loss in 27 games, and at least 4.0 sacks in 16 games. In games with at least 5.0 tackles for loss, Ole Miss is 18-9, and in games with at least 4.0 sacks, the Rebels are 8-3. This season, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC in sacks and third TFL, while ranking 11th nationally in both categories.


Senior WR Jordan Watkins has been a big-play threat throughout his two-year tenure as a Rebel, and he’s been off to a dynamite start as Ole Miss’ top all-purpose option this season. Watkins currently ranks seventh in the SEC receptions per game at 6.0 (No. 29 FBS) and eighth in receiving yards per game at 86.8 (No. 31 FBS), as well as 12th in the conference at 102.5 all-purpose yards per game. Watkins has broken loose for several massive plays, leading all Rebels with 13 plays of at least 10 yards, including seven of at least 20 yards, four of at least 30 and the top-two long plays for Ole Miss this season: his 70-yard punt return touchdown against Mercer, and his 68-yard TD reception against Georgia Tech. Watkins also had four receptions of 30 yards last season, including a 61-yard catch at Vanderbilt. This season, his 70-yard punt return TD ranks second longest in the SEC (No. 6 FBS), and he is the lone player nationally to have both a 70-yard punt return TD and a reception of more than 51 yards.


Senior WR Dayton Wade is off to a career-best start in 2023 as one of Ole Miss’ top deep-play threats. At 303 yards on 16 receptions, Wade is already closing in on his prior single-season career highs of 27 catches and 309 yards — both recorded in 2022, his first season at Ole Miss after three at WKU from 2019-21. Wade has had at least 86 yards receiving in each of his last three games, and he leads all Rebels with three receptions of at least 40 yards. Nationally, he is among just eight FBS receiver with at least four catches of 40 yards, as well as one of just two in the SEC this season alongside South Carolina’s Xavier Legette.


Senior transfer WR Zakhari Franklin made his Ole Miss debut at No. 12 Alabama on Sept. 23, starting and hauling in one catch for 16 yards. This preseason, Franklin was one of two Rebels named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list alongside Tre Harris, and with good reason. Despite missing the first three games of 2023, Franklin still ranks among the top active receivers in the FBS, as his 263 receptions still leads all active FBS receivers and his 3,364 career yards ranks second only to Arizona’s Jacob Cowing (3,867). In 46 career games for UTSA, Franklin rewrote their record books en route to two first team All-Conference USA selections and an Honorable Mention All-America nod by Phil Steele in 2022. Franklin has notched 13 career 100-yard receiving games, and in 2022 was tied for second nationally in receiving touchdowns with 15. Franklin was also part of the Biletnikoff watch list in 2022.


Ole Miss is once again running a lightning-quick offense in 2023, currently ranking as one of eight FBS schools at sub-23 seconds between plays. The Rebels’ speed was on display no better than its two opening scoring drives against Mercer and Tulane. Ole Miss opened against Mercer with a 51-second drive that ended with the first of three touchdown passes from QB Jaxson Dart to WR Tre Harris in the first quarter alone. At No. 22 Tulane, the Rebels were at it again, scoring in just 48 seconds that ended with a 31-yard strike from Dart to Harris. The 51-second drive against Mercer was the fastest to open a season for Ole Miss since 2018, and the 28 first quarter points ranks as the most in available records since at least 1967. The 48-second debut against the Green Wave, meanwhile, was the fastest on any opening drive for the Rebels since finding the endzone in just 34 seconds against Liberty on Nov. 6, 2021. In the Kiffin era, Ole Miss is 22-5 when scoring first.


Senior LB Ashanti Cistrunk has been a mainstay of the Ole Miss defense throughout his long career as a Rebel, as evidenced by his current streak of 52 consecutive games played — which constitutes all 52 of his career games played.  Cistrunk is among 118 active players nationally in the FBS to have played at least 52, and on Ole Miss’ roster this year he is among three alongside transfers Zamari Walton and Teja Young, who both have also appeared in 52 career contests. In his Ole Miss career, Cistrunk has 158 total tackles (68 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles and an interceptions. In addition to Cistrunk, Ole Miss’ 2023 roster features five more with at least 150 career tackles: CB DeShawn Gaddie Jr. (152), LB Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste (167), LB Monty Montgomery (175), S Isheem Young (180) and S Teja Young (168).


The Rebel defensive unit has been crucial to Ole Miss’ success with timely big plays and big stops.
• CB Deantre Prince is Ole Miss’ active career leader in interceptions with six.
• Prince (76.3) and S Daijahn Anthony (82.8) are Ole Miss’ top-two rated defenders per PFF.
• Anthony is rated by PFF as Ole Miss’ top DB in coverage (87.5), Prince is Ole Miss’ top cover corner (73.0).
• Ole Miss has returned its two of its three interceptions this season for 63 yards, currently No. 5 in the SEC.
• Six different Rebels have had their hand in Ole Miss’ three forced fumbles either on the force or recovery … Eight Rebels have batted down a pass, and 10 have recorded at least one QB hurry.
• Four Rebels have multiple pass breakups, led by S Daijahn Anthony’s four PBUs … Anthony also had an interception against Mercer.
• S Trey Washington has led Ole Miss in tackles in twice, including a career-high 10 vs. Georgia Tech … Washington was SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 18.
• Washington leads the team with 25 tackles, followed by LB Ashanti Cistrunk (23).
• DE Cedric Johnson recorded career sack No. 14.5 against Mercer … Johnson is Ole Miss’ active career sacks leader.


Junior QB Jaxson Dart had a career day running the ball against Georgia Tech on Sept. 16, and did so with one of the longest rushes ever by a Rebel signal caller. Dart ended with a career high 136 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 14, highlighted by a massive 68 yard scamper in the second quarter. That run nearly doubled up his previous career long of 36 against Troy last season, and all-time in Ole Miss history it ranks as the fourth-longest ever by a QB. So far this season, Dart leads all SEC quarterbacks and ranks 14th nationally among QBs at 54.8 rushing yards per game, in addition to ranking ninth in the SEC at his 5.0 yards per carry clip.


Junior QB Jaxson Dart has been one of the top signal callers nationally, currently leading the SEC in yards per completion at 16.9 (FBS No. 8) and ranking within the FBS top-30 in total offense at 328.8 ypg (No. 6), yards per pass attempt at 10.6 (No. 8), passing yards per game at 274.0 (No. 21), passing efficiency at 171.0 (No. 21), passing yards at 1,096 (No. 23). Dart has been especially effective in the first quarters so far this season, standing at 24-of-30 for 452 yards and four touchdowns in the opening frame. That includes a blistering 11-for-11 stretch to open the season against Mercer, making him just the seventh Ole Miss quarterback to ever throw 11 consecutive completions and the best such streak since Matt Corral set the school record at 19 in a row at Vanderbilt in 2020. Dart most recently moved into 12th all-time at Ole Miss in passing yards with 4,070 and 12th in total offense at 4,903. In his overall career combining totals from his freshman season at USC in 2021, Dart owns 5,423 and 6,299 yards in both categories, respectively.


Sophomore RB Quinshon Judkins has continued to find the endzone at record-breaking pace in his second year as a Rebel, as he most recently moved into the top-10 on Ole Miss’ career rushing touchdown list. Judkins, currently ranked No. 3 in the SEC at four rushing touchdowns, scored his 20th career TD on the ground against Georgia Tech, which put him into a tie for eighth all-time in Rebel history alongside Matt Corral (2018-21) and Randy Baldwin (1989-90). He is also climbing up other all-time career lists at Ole Miss, currently ranking 11th in career rushing yards (1,768), sixth in career 100-yard rushing games (8), and tied for 12th in career all-purpose touchdowns (21). Judkins is coming off a historic freshman campaign in 2022 that saw him break several Ole Miss records — including the single-season rushing mark. Judkins was a consensus first team selection on all the Preseason All-America teams and All-SEC teams, and was selected to the Maxwell, Walter Camp and Doak Walker Award watch lists.


Senior transfer kicker Caden Davis had only hit one career field goal in three seasons at Texas A&M, but in three games with the Rebels, not only does Davis already have seven in nine tries this year, but he also has the fourth-longest boot in school history. Davis played a crucial role in Ole Miss’ comeback victory over No. 22 Tulane, going 3-of-3 on his field goal tries, but none bigger than his fourth quarter 56-yard behemoth that sailed through the uprights to give the Rebels a 10-point lead after being down 10 in the first half. That 56-yard shot by Davis soared past his previous of 40 yards in his only made field goal of his Texas A&M career in four total attempts. It ranks second in the SEC and tied for third-longest in the FBS this season, as well as No. 4 in Ole Miss history — the best since Bryan Owen nailed a 57-yarder against Tulane in 1988.

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