By Jeff Roberson
OXFORD – Back when he was still very much alive, Georgia Bulldog fan Lewis Grizzard made several trips to Oxford for Ole Miss-Georgia football games. A few times he had a book signing at Square Books or performance on stage somewhere in town to bring his unique southern brand of humor, entertainment, and good will to those in attendance.
I recall being upstairs in Square Books during one of those signings. He had it outside on the balcony, probably wanting to take it all in from high above. It was memorable, as were all times when Grizzard showed up.
I started covering Ole Miss sports for the Oxford Eagle in late 1990. I know Grizzard was in Oxford for the 1991 game when Georgia won. I’m not sure about the 1993 game here when Ole Miss won.
How about let’s use a few titles of his old columns, stories, and books for a wrap-up of another Ole Miss-Georgia game?
“Elvis is dead, and I don’t feel so good myself.”
Grizzard just might have been saying that as he left the stadium and headed back to the Grove Saturday.
Ole Miss dominated Georgia 45-14 on Hollingsworth Field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium before an announced crowd of 65,843 sun-soaked and likely sunburned fans. That was only a few less than the record crowd of 66,176 who watched Ole Miss and Alabama play a week earlier. Both are the largest crowds ever to gather in Mississippi for likely anything and certainly a football game.
The Rebels needed one like this, but I’m not sure many thought Georgia would be the recipient of the most lopsided Ole Miss win against a ranked team since Archie Manning and company engineered a 38-0 win against Tennessee in the famous mule game in 1969. But that’s another story for another day.
In this one, two sons of the South – Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss and Kirby Smart of Georgia – led their teams in battle, while their two quarterbacks were not exactly originally from around here – Chad Kelly of Buffalo, and Jacob Eason, from between Seattle and Vancouver.
Georgia came in 3-0 and was the higher ranked team. But Ole Miss was favored. The Bulldogs had eased to their unblemished mark with some not-so-remarkable results.
Saturday was about an Ole Miss team finishing a contest instead of taking steps backward after building big leads. Against Florida State, Ole Miss led 28-6 before losing 45-34. After a 38-13 win against outmatched Wofford, Ole Miss led Alabama 24-3 and lost 48-43.
So when Ole Miss led Georgia 17-0 and 24-0, there was likely concern among the Rebel faithful – until the game clock got late. Then again, those paying close attention were not concerned. Georgia this season is not Alabama nor is it Florida State. This time, the Rebels were going to be able to finish.
“Chili Dawgs Always Bark At Night”
Up next for Ole Miss is a homecoming matchup on Saturday night, October 1, against Memphis. Last season at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, the Tigers laid a 37-24 loss on the Rebels.
It’s the first night game of the season at home for Ole Miss after three brutally hot September day games. There should be some revenge on the Rebels’ minds. Although Ole Miss won 10 games last season including the Sugar Bowl, the setback in Memphis last October has been brought up to Rebel fans by Tiger fans for a year.
The Rebels are now 2-2 on the season and 1-1 in Southeastern Conference play as they close out a difficult September. After Memphis they get a welcomed open date to heal up, regroup, and move forward through October and November.
That’s why the upcoming Memphis game is so important. A loss to the Tigers and they would find themselves in a bit of a scramble. A victory and they are back on course for a successful season.
“Shoot Low Boys – They’re Riding Shetland Ponies”
It’s hard to believe Grizzard left us for good in 1994. Twenty-two years? That means college kids unless their parents have told them or they have stumbled on his writings themselves, have no idea who he is. That’s hard to fathom, but time moves on.
The Southeastern Conference had expanded from 10 to 12 teams only a couple of years before Grizzard died. Now, with 14 teams, the league’s SEC east and west teams don’t see each other quite as often.
From 1966, when John Vaught and Vince Dooley were the respective head coaches, through 2002, Ole Miss and Georgia were each other’s common opponent. For Ole Miss so was Vanderbilt, and for Georgia, it was also Auburn.
Now Ole Miss and Georgia don’t play each other on the gridiron but every six years. That means the next time the Bulldogs play in Oxford will be in 12 years – if the same SEC format for scheduling remains and there is no expansion to 16 schools.
“If I Ever Get Back To Georgia, I’m Gonna Nail My Feet To The Ground”
That one works for how Grizzard might have felt loading up and heading back East after Saturday’s showing by his team. Or maybe . . .
“They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat”
The Rebels and the Bulldogs now move on to October as the 2016 college football season continues to unfold. – RN
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