Second Helping

Few coaches celebrate a win like Houston Nutt. That's especially true when the conquered foe is Arkansas. That was evident again Saturday afternoon.

The former Razorback head coach of 10 years is now 2-0 as the head coach of Ole Miss with his team's latest victory, a 30-17 decision against his former home-state team.

From the time he appeared on the video screen before the game Saturday and said, "Houston Nutt. Oxford, Mississippi" until his final fist pump more than three hours later in front of the band heading into the tunnel, Saturday certainly wasn't all about Nutt. But his role in the renewed Ole Miss-Arkansas rivalry is more than noteworthy.

This was an important game for both teams. Both were looking to build and move into the stretch run. Both teams needed a victory. And it was the Rebels who got it.

Ole Miss had opportunities to put this one away in the first half. As well as its defense was playing, had the Rebels gone up 21-0 in the second quarter, this one might have been over even earlier. But the Rebels had to settle for a field goal leading 14-0 in the second quarter to make it 17-0.

They were still in decent shape, but the door was open for a team as good as Arkansas with a quarterback as good as Ryan Mallett to come back.

You had to figure Mallett was going to do some special things before this one was over. But he really didn't. There was one tipped ball into the open arms of Carlton Sellers, a 58-yard "look what I found" catch and score.

Beyond that, the Rebel defense made Mallett look average. He finished 12-of-34.

A couple of crazy field goal moments in the fourth quarter rounded this one out.

Ole Miss was only up 24-17 when Shene missed a 34-yarder. But John Jerry moved before the snap. Shene got another shot from 39 and was good, making it 27-17 on the first play of the final period.

Later Arkansas tried a 52-yarder by Alex Tejada that bounced off the crossbar and went through. That would have made it 27-20, but there was a delay of game flag right before the kick. Alas, no play. The Razorbacks punted instead of trying a 57-yarder.

Ole Miss moved back downfield and got a 19-yarder from Shene which accounted for the final tally.

It was an interesting game. And an important game for both.

Ole Miss-Arkansas has always been a rivalry to some degree. The Razorbacks have always called Texas and Ole Miss their biggest rivals. Once they were in Texas' conference with Ole Miss as a non-conference foe. Now it's the reverse.

The game may have grown a bit stale through the early years of Arkansas' tenure in the SEC. But when Nutt resigned in northwest Arkansas and moved to north Mississippi, there was a whole new meaning to this one.

You know how much this victory meant to him, just like the 23-21 win last season in Fayetteville. But beyond that excitement, there was the matter of continuing the push this season, just like this time last year.

Going to Auburn for a Halloween morning game with a loss to the Razorbacks would have been deflating for a Rebel team picked as a contender in the SEC West race prior to the season's beginning.

But at 5-2 overall and 2-2 in league play, they can move on with a load of confidence and renewed enthusiasm for the task at hand.

That would be Auburn first and then November. And you know what Nutt always says.

"They remember in November."

The Rebels are trying to get to 6-2 before that and then see what next month brings.

A repeat of everything that happened after last season's win in Fayetteville would mean more celebrations from Nutt and everybody associated with Ole Miss.

They've got a fighting chance to make that happen now, with another win over Nutt's former team on the winning side of the ledger.

OM Spirit Top Stories