Estes: Eli, LSU give Southerners memories

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

Ole Miss’ Eli Manning wasn’t bad in the Rebels’ Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State.

In fact, I thought he handled himself almost like the pro he surely will be down the road.

It doesn’t have to be written or voiced, but Oklahoma State absolutely didn’t let up on the Rebels, making Eli’s performance even more significant.

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The game stats were pretty well even, as expected, when they hit the newspapers Jan. 3. Reflecting the even score in fact. Ole Miss rushed the ball 37 times for 190 yards in the game. OSU rushed 37 times, too, but for 110 yards. Close, though.

Defenders drew the unpopular task of holding down OSU wide receiver Rashaun Woods, a cat who could scratch and go. And make life miserable for those Rebel defenders. Woods was dynamite last year’s bowl season as well. The other day in Dallas against Ole Miss he kept right on catching passes just like the year before. Whatcha gonna do?!

Rebel players remarked that &8220;the next time we see Woods he’ll be wearing an NFL jersey &045; thank goodness.&8221; Woods was strong and aggressive and plenty good enough to give Ole Miss a lot of trouble. And he’ll almost surely make it in the pros.

And, hey, am I glad I rode with the LSU Tigers against the Oklahoma Sooners in the sweet Sugar Bowl Sunday night in New Orleans?! Along with the Sugar prize the Tigers came away with the coveted BCS prize, denoting national supremacy.

You saw it on TV &045; LSU put the whammy on Heisman winner Jason White. Well, good enough for a 21-14 victory, anyway. A win is a win, and most folks around here were proud just so long as it was that &045; a win for the Tigers.

I was concerned that the Sooners would break out at any time, but you have to say that the Tigers tightened their belts for the duration &045; there was no letting up, and the Tiger &8220;D&8221; dashed OU’s hopes of victory. If you saw it on TV you had to get the feeling that LSU was reaching way back and coming out with a &8220;shelale.&8221; Which the Tigers did.

It was imposing the way the Tigers stifled the big ole Sooners down yonder in New Orleans. I sat in my easy chair and felt good for the Tigers, knowing they were reaching back and coming up with a great effort. Tell ’em, &8220;John!&8221;

Claim was laid right then and there for attention &045; right down there on the Crescent City spot, and here’s hoping the Tigers officially have it be the time you read this.

Could LSU be making a solid move &045; one that gets more solid with time? You never know, that’s just football for you. I don’t know how much stock to put in the BCS system, but this has called for talk all around college football land, which reaches all over the US of A.

LSU, you must remember, has in the meantime helped prod talk of the Southeastern Conference and its prize spot in American sports. No kidding, the Southeastern Conference is known as no other in overall notice in our land.

So let’s just sit back without sticking our chests out too far and follow SEC and southern football and overall athletics with a &8220;Southern&8221; accent. Not a &8220;chesty&8221; one now, just mild &8220;Southern.&8221;

Glenvall Estes is a longtime columnist for The Natchez Democrat.