No. 20 Ole Miss scores with 39 seconds left to beat No. 13 LSU, 55-49

The Tigers' national title hopes are likely over

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 30: Ole' Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) in action during the college football game between the LSU Tigers and the Ole' Miss Rebels on September 30, 2023 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, MS. (Photo by Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ole Miss WR Tre Harris caught a 13-yard TD pass with 39 seconds left to give the No. 20 Rebels a 55-49 win over No. 13 LSU and likely end the Tigers’ national title hopes.

The Rebels trailed for much of the second half but got the ball back with a chance to win with 2:36 to go. As LSU prepared for the passing game, Ole Miss ran the ball on the first five plays of the drive before QB Jaxson Dart hit Harris for a 24-yard gain on a play-action pass.

With LSU off-balance, Ole Miss then threw the ball on the final three plays of its drive as Harris darted between defenders to get into the end zone.

LSU had a final chance to get a game-winning TD itself and gained 42 yards on its first play before an Ole Miss penalty for a horse collar tackle put the Tigers in the red zone. But two false starts followed that penalty and LSU's last-ditch pass to the end zone as time expired fell incomplete.

Dart finished the game 26-of-39 passing for 389 yards and four touchdowns along with 50 yards rushing and a rushing TD. It’s not a stretch to say it’s the best game he’s played in an Ole Miss uniform since transferring from USC.

Star RB Quinshon Judkins had his best game of the season with 33 carries for 177 yards and a TD. Judkins also crept into the end zone on a two-point conversion after Harris’ go-ahead TD that stretched Ole Miss’ lead to six.

Jayden Daniels shines, LSU defense does not

No two-loss team has ever made the four-team College Football Playoff. And barring an unexpected turn of events, LSU will not break that trend in 2023.

It’s not because of Jayden Daniels, either. Daniels had a first-half fumble but was otherwise phenomenal on Saturday night. He finished the game 27-of-36 passing for 414 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed 15 times for 99 yards and a score.

The LSU offense had 637 yards and moved the ball with ease against the Ole Miss defense. But the Ole Miss offense had just as easy of a time against the LSU defense. And that’s why LSU is out of the title race.

The Tigers allowed 706 yards of offense as the Rebels rushed for 317 yards and over six yards a carry. LSU was incapable of stopping the run and a revamped secondary through the transfer portal gave up big play after big play. Harris had eight catches for 153 yards and Jordan Watkins had five catches for 103 yards.

It was a familiar story for the Tigers. Arkansas scored 31 points a week ago as KJ Jefferson threw for 289 yards on 21 completions. In Week 1, Florida State’s Jordan Travis threw for 342 yards and four TDs as the Seminoles beat LSU, 45-24.

LSU’s inability to defend the pass could continue to be an issue next week, too. The Tigers travel to face Missouri in Week 6 as Missouri QB Brady Cook set the SEC record for consecutive passes without an interception in Mizzou’s win over Vanderbilt. Cook threw for 395 yards and four scores against the Commodores.

A big bounce-back for Ole Miss

The Rebels were the better team in a frantic first half that featured seven touchdown drives of at least 71 yards. Ole Miss led 31-28 at halftime but quickly relinquished that lead as LSU scored less than four minutes into the second half.

Ole Miss never led again until Harris’ touchdown. Its defense struggled against LSU, but got the key stop when it needed it. After Ole Miss cut LSU’s lead to two with 5:06 to go, Ole Miss forced LSU to punt from midfield after stopping Daniels on a third-down run.

A week ago, Ole Miss was overpowered in the second half at Alabama as the Crimson Tide outscored the Rebels 18-3 in the second half on the way to a 24-10 win. On Saturday, the Rebels made it clear they’re still in the top half of the SEC West and could even be on the periphery of division title contention if Alabama struggles.