BATON ROUGE, La. — In a joyous, raving, almost delirious rant, Les Miles gushed over his team's determination and urged LSU fans to put their arms around his players and "give them a big kiss on the mouth."
Miles is known to get a little loopy and emotional at times, so the coach's comments hardly seemed out of character after Saturday's 41-35 win over Mississippi that evoked memories of Billy Cannon's famous Halloween night punt return in 1959.
Running back Jeremy Hill's third touchdown of the game, with 15 seconds left, won it for LSU.
"I'm proud of those men," Miles said. "How easy it could of have been to say it was (Ole Miss') night. Spectacular group of men. Wow! What a game!"
The game included seven turnovers, numerous momentum swings and long touchdowns, perhaps none better than Odell Beckham's 89-yard punt return that evoked memories of Cannon's return against the same team, along the same sideline and for the same yards.
"That was maybe the biggest momentum changer in the game," Miles said. "Is it Halloween night?"
Beckham eluded numerous tacklers then broke down the right sideline while teammate Jarvis Landry waved him along with a windmill motion.
"Everyone had their block. Everyone had their man, and everyone covered their assignments," Beckham said. "I saw a crease, and I just hit it. It was an amazing experience."
The return tied the score at 35, but LSU still needed sacks by defensive tackle Anthony Johnson and defensive end Lavar Edwards to drive Ole Miss out of routine field-goal range later in the fourth. Bryson Rose then pushed a 53-yarder wide right, setting up the winning drive.
"I've been coaching a long time; maybe not at this level. But this here is one of the most difficult locker rooms to be in this year," first-year Rebels coach Hugh Freeze said. "Our kids just fought for our university and our fans, and they should be proud. We just can't seem to get that stop when we have to have one or that touchdown when we have to have one."
No. 4 'bama 49, W. Carolina 0: Eddie Lacy ran for three touchdowns for the host Tide, which led 42-0 at halftime a week after losing to Texas A&M. "You're coming off a loss. It's easy to get distracted," said cornerback Deion Belue, who returned a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown in the final seconds of the first half. "We handled that real well; just coming in and staying focused on what we need to do." Lacy ran for 99 yards on 10 carries while playing only the first half.
No. 5 UGA 45, Ga. Southern 14: Aaron Murray threw four touchdowns for the host Bulldogs, who reached 10 wins for the eighth time in coach Mark Richt's 12 seasons. The former Tampa Plant High standout hit Malcolm Mitchell with four seconds left in the first half to make it 17-7. His other touchdowns came during the third to blow it open. "We had some good matchups … we didn't exploit (early)," Murray said. "We were finally able to do that and make some big plays." Todd Gurley scored Georgia's first touchdown and joined Herschel Walker (1980) as the school's only true freshman to rush for 1,000 yards. (Knowshon Moreno was a redshirt freshman when he did it in 2007).
No. 9 Texas A&M 47, Sam Houston St. 28: Johnny Manziel threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 100 and two for the host Aggies. He broke the NCAA freshman quarterback rushing record of 1,029 set by Missouri's Brad Smith in 2002 and the freshman record for total offense of 3,827 set in 2000 by Kentucky's Jared Lorenzen. He also became the fifth player and first freshman in I-A to pass for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000. Said Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin: "From a numbers standpoint, it's hard to argue that he's not one of the best players in the country right now."
No. 12 S.C. 24, Wofford 7: Tied at 7, the host Gamecocks scored 17 in the fourth to pull away. It's the third consecutive time the I-AA Terriers have scared the Gamecocks, who won 27-20 in 2006 and 23-13 in 2008. "These Wofford kids are tough," said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, whose 64th win in eight seasons tied Rex Enright for the school record. "We knew that coming in, and we were pretty fortunate to come out winning." The Gamecocks played without end Jadeveon Clowney, who has 8½ sacks, because of a sprained foot. He's expected back this week.
Vandy 41, Tennessee 18: Andre Hal intercepted two passes and Jordan Rodgers threw two touchdowns for the host Commodores, who have won five in a row to clinch their first regular-season winning record since 1982. It was Vanderbilt's biggest margin of victory over Tennessee since 26-0 in 1954. Meanwhile, the loss clinched the Vols' third consecutive losing season. The last time that happened was 1909-11.
Miss. St. 45, Arkansas 14: Tyler Russell threw four touchdowns for the host Bulldogs. Mississippi State had lost three in a row, all to ranked teams. "I'm just happy to be back on the winning side of things," coach Dan Mullen said. Mississippi State went up 24-14 in the third on backup quarterback Dak Prescott's 5-yard run on fourth and 1.
Syracuse 31, Missouri 27: Ryan Nassib threw a 17-yard touchdown to Alec Lemon with 20 seconds left to cap the visiting Orange's 21-point fourth. Lemon caught 12 passes for 244 yards and also caught a 13-yard touchdown that tied it at 17 earlier in the fourth. Andrew Baggett's 46-yard field goal with 1:52 left put Missouri ahead 27-24. The Tigers also lost quarterback James Franklin late on a hard hit. His status was unavailable.
Kentucky 34, Samford 3: Freshman Jalen Whitlow threw for a touchdown and ran for one for the host Wildcats, who ended an eight-game skid. Raymond Sanders ran for a career-high 123 yards and a touchdown that made it 24-3 in the second quarter.
Auburn 51, Ala. A&M 7: Tre Mason ran for 181 yards and two scores and Onterio McCalebb 104 and two for the host Tigers. Mason's first-quarter touchdowns, including an 86-yarder, helped Auburn lead 35-0 at halftime.