In what was billed as one of the biggest days in the state's college football history, Mississippi and Mississippi State did not disappoint, each scoring an upset over an undefeated opponent.
In Starkville, 12th-ranked Mississippi State, led by the dynamic quarterback Dak Prescott, dominated sixth-ranked Texas A&M 48-31. And in Oxford, 11th-ranked Mississippi scored two touchdowns in the game's final 51/2 minutes to rally past third-ranked Alabama 23-17.
It was a remarkable ending to a weeklong celebration for the Bulldogs and the Rebels, who have had snippets of success over the past 40 seasons but have struggled to make a dent nationally or in the Southeastern Conference.
For now, that has changed.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State, each 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the SEC, sit atop the SEC West, perhaps the more powerful division in what's widely considered the nation's most powerful conference.
On Sunday, they also were tied in the Associated Press college poll. Voters ranked them both No. 3 after a Saturday in which for just the second time in the 78-year history of the poll, four of the top six teams lost. (No. 2 Oregon fell to Arizona on Thursday).
The Rebels earned their spot by ending a 10-game losing streak against the Tide. The Rebels trailed 14-3 at halftime, but Bo Wallace threw three touchdown passes to pull out the victory. Cornerback Senquez Golson sealed the Rebels' upset, intercepting a Blake Sims pass in the end zone with 37 seconds remaining.
"I really do think it's the biggest college football Saturday we've ever had in Mississippi," said Rick Cleveland, a former sportswriter and editor who is executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
ESPN's College GameDay brought its cast to Oxford for the first time Saturday. The show was set to begin at 8 a.m.; by 6:30, before sunrise, tens of thousands of fans were packed shoulder to shoulder. The SEC Network held its pregame show, SEC Nation, in Starkville, where Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen was reunited with Tim Tebow.
Mullen was the offensive coordinator at Florida when Tebow and the Gators won two national championships. He has often compared his current quarterback, Prescott, to Tebow, and the nation got to see why on Saturday. Prescott threw for two touchdowns and ran for three in the Bulldogs' win. Mullen, talking after the game, teared up when asked to compare Prescott and Tebow. "They're winners," he said, "and they're leaders."
Contributing: Associated Press
Arizona pulled off one of college football's most exciting plays just two weeks ago, completing a Hail Mary to beat California. The Wildcats' rivals, Arizona State, did the same thing against No. 16 Southern California. His team trailing 38-32 in the final seconds, Mike Bercovici launched a ball high into the Southern California sky and Jaelen Strong stepped in front of USC's Hayes Pullard at the goal line and pulled in the Hail Mary throw. Arizona State's bench stormed the field to celebrate the first win at the Coliseum since 1999 for the Sun Devils. "I'll be honest, it was a little bit of a prayer," Bercovici told the AP. Bercovici threw for 510 yards and five TDs, including the 46-yarder to Strong on the final play. "That was the most unbelievable night I've ever had in coaching," Arizona State's Todd Graham said. "When he caught that ball, my heart stopped."