BATON ROUGE, La. -- Odell Beckham's 89-yard punt return in the fourth quarter breathed some much-needed life into LSU and the 7th-ranked Tigers came up with enough defense to subdue Ole Miss 41-35 Saturday.
Jeremy Hill dove into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown with 15 seconds remaining to lift LSU to the win in a wild shootout at Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers (9-2, 5-2 SEC) maintain flickering hopes of getting to the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1. The Tigers need an Alabama loss to Auburn next week and a Texas A&M win at Missouri to force a three-way tie. LSU would win the tiebreaker and face Georgia.
None of that seemed very relevant most of Saturday as the Rebels made the Tigers sweat out a win on Senior Day.
Hill's third touchdown of the day was the fourth of the final period as the teams went back and forth with nine turnovers and 890 yards (463 for Ole Miss, 427 for LSU).
No play was bigger than Beckham's punt-return TD against the same Ole Miss team that Billy Cannon famously beat with a fourth-quarter score of the same distance on Halloween night in 1959.
That game ended with a 7-3 LSU win and a defensive stand in the closing seconds.
There was a little more beat on the bone to this one.
"Wow! What a spectacular game," Tigers coach Les Miles said in perhaps his most animated postgame media session since his crowning moment at the 2008 BCS Championship Game.
Miles hammered the point that Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5) played the way it had to play to win, repeatedly calling it "their night."
"When you find a team that fights beyond that, there is never their night and somehow they're going to win, man that is special," Miles said.
"Just so know, I'm proud of those men. How (expletive) easy it would've been to say, 'It's just their night.'"
Sure seemed that way when Ole Miss stormed back ahead 35-28 after a rapid-fire TD drive snapped a tie that LSU forged with a well-executed 12-play march early in the fourth quarter.
The teams exchanged punts and on the Rebels' kick, Beckham fielded the ball at the 11, started left, and got a huge block from Jalen Collins that took out two players. Beckham weaved his way back right, broke two tackles and got to a wall on the right sideline with no Ole Miss players anywhere close.
As Beckham sprinted down the sideline, Jarvis Landry provided an escort, a waving his right arm like a windmill.
"It was definitely a clutch moment in the game," said Landry, Beckham's roommate and closest friend on the team. "It goes to show what a clutch player Odell is."
Added Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, "We had three chances to make tackles there and we didn't."
Those two LSU scores finally wiped out a lead the Rebels held onto most of the day, thanks to quarterback Bo Wallace's huge day.
Wallace passed for 310 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Donte Moncrief, who hauled in six passes for 161 yards. Wallace also ran for a 58-yard score to get Ole Miss on the board in the first quarter.
LSU countered with another stout passing day from Zach Mettenberger. He passed for 282 yards on 22-of-37 accuracy. Hill ran for 77 yards, anchored by a 27-yard TD burst in the first quarter.
The Rebels stunned LSU in the first half, racking up 286 yards and three touchdowns -- the last on a 97-yard march right before halftime to jump ahead 21-17 at the break.
Down 17-14 after the Tigers converted a pair of Ole Miss turnovers into points, the Rebels got the ball at their own 3-yard-line after a booming 53-yard Brad Wing punt with the second quarter winding down.
Instead of playing it safe, Ole Miss came out firing as Wallace zipped a 24-yard strike to Moncrief on the first play to create some breathing room.
That was Wallace just getting warmed up, as he was 5-of-7 on the drive for 94 yards with an 18-yard completion to Moncrief to convert a third-and-9 and a 20-yard strike to Ja-Mes Logan on fourth-and-3 from near midfield. With LSU reeling, Wallace pegged another deep throw to Logan for 25 yards to the 1 and the Rebels' QB punched into the end from there for the go-ahead TD.
Before the long drive, Ole Miss burned the Tigers with big plays to grab an early lead and then take it back.
After a sluggish start for both teams, the Rebels marched out of a hole with a nice mix of misdirection runs to carve out a pair of first downs from their own 18 to reach the 42. With LSU's defense not sure what to look for next, Wallace fake a handoff and then blasted through a hole in the right side and shed two tackles on the way to a 58-yard touchdown run.
LSU answered on the ensuing drive to knot the score.
Mettenberger lofted a pretty 48-yard pass to James Wright on the first play after the kickoff and Hill bolted the remaining 27 yards through the left side for a touchdown.
The Tigers had a chance to take the lead when they moved into field-goal range with a 30-yard pass to Travis Dickson. But Alleman's 48-yard field-goal try was wide right.
The Rebels used just four plays to seize the lead back when Wallace fired a pass to Moncrief on a quick slant. Moncrief stopped for a second and faked a cutback and then streaked away from two defenders for a 56-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
"They (are) an athletic team that believes they can get up and play press," Freeze said. "We wanted to challenge that, and I think our guys had success doing it. We wanted to keep coming back to it. We wanted to stay aggressive when we got the lead and we wanted to take some shots."
NOTES: Mettenberger recorded his third consecutive game with 200 or more passing yards, which an LSU quarterback hadn't done since Matt Flynn had three in a row in 2007 in weeks 8-10. ... Wallace's 310 passing yards were the most by an opposing QB since Geno Smith carved up the Tigers for 463 yards last Sept. 24. ... Ole Miss finished with 463 yards, the most by an LSU opponent this season. The Rebels also topped 450 yards for the eighth time in 11 games this season.