OXFORD, Miss. – JaMarcus Russell threw two touchdown passes and LSU’s defense smothered Mississippi in a 40-7 victory Saturday night to move the fourth-ranked Tigers one step closer to the SEC championship game.

LSU (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) held Ole Miss to 7 yards rushing and gave the Rebels their worst loss in Oxford in 56 years.

Now, only Arkansas stands in the Tigers’ path to Atlanta. LSU can clinch its third title game berth in five seasons by beating the lowly Razorbacks next week.

Joseph Addai and Justin Vincent each had 1-yard touchdown runs while Russell had a 3-yard scoring pass to Craig Davis and a 20-yard TD toss to Early Doucet in leading LSU to its eighth straight win since an overtime loss to Tennessee.

Russell finished 13-of-22 passing for 142 yards, Addai had 70 yards on 14 carries, and Chris Jackson kicked a season-best 48-yard field goal for LSU.

The Tigers defense, which entered as one of the SEC’s best, lived up to its reputation, took a shutout into the final minutes and claimed a rare blowout win over Ole Miss. LSU had won the previous three meetings by a combined seven points.

The Rebels (3-7, 1-6) crossed midfield only once against LSU’s defensive starters but avoided their first shutout since 1998 when backup Micheal Spurlock threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Taye Biddle with less than three minutes to play.

Still, it was Ole Miss’ worst defeat in Oxford since a 47-0 loss to Kentucky in 1949, and it was the second straight miserable rushing performance for the Rebels – who had just 10 yards on the ground in last week’s loss to Arkansas.

This time, Ole Miss’ leading rusher was receiver Mario Hill – who had 9 yards on one carry.

The Ole Miss offense entered as one of the worst in the SEC, and for much of the first half, the Rebels played like it. Ole Miss gained only 36 total yards and two first downs while LSU took a 16-0 halftime lead.

At one point in the second quarter, the Tigers had outgained Ole Miss 152-6.

Ole Miss’ offensive struggles put the Rebels in an early hole. Ethan Flatt took a snap, stumbled in the end zone, fumbled and fell on the ball for a safety to give LSU a 2-0 lead.

The Tigers then scored twice in the second quarter to take control.

Russell’s 3-yard scoring pass to Davis extended the lead to 9-0 two plays into the second quarter. On the Tigers’ next possession, Addai then had a 1-yard touchdown run to make it a 16-point game.

Ethan Flatt was 9-of-15 passing for 49 yards in his second start of the season for Ole Miss. Spurlock replaced him early in the third quarter and was 11-of-23 for 149 yards.

AP-ES-11-19-05 2317EST


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