On this day six decades ago, a Heisman Trophy campaign was defined.
It was Oct. 31, 1959 as No. 1 as defending national champion LSU played host to third-ranked Ole Miss in Baton Rouge. The contest saw just one touchdown, but that score would be the lasting memory for eventual Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon.
Both the Tigers and Rebels were 6-0 when the teams met at Tiger Stadium. The defenses headlined both teams. To that point, Ole Miss had allowed just seven points all season. LSU had allowed just six.
Through three quarters, the defenses lived up to their reputations. A first-half field by Ole Miss had accounted for all the scoring. About 10 minutes remained in the game when Rebels’ punter Jake Gibbs stepped back to punt.
Gibbs had been instructed to keep the ball away from Cannon, who had already had an interception to that point. That was Gibbs’ intention, but not the result. Cannon caught the ball at his own 11-yard-line before making defenders miss and going down the sideline for an 89-yard touchdown.
Ole Miss would threaten later in the contest, but the LSU defense came away with a big goal line stop on the Rebels’ Doug Elmore to seal the victory. Unfortunately for LSU, its dreams of a repeat would die a week later in a 14-13 loss at Tennessee. Ole Miss would get revenge with a 21-0 victory in a Sugar Bowl rematch on New Year’s Day.
As for Cannon, he would win the Heisman Trophy in 1959 by one of the most lopsided votes ever. Cannon would go on to be the No. 1 pick in both the 1960 AFL and NFL Drafts before playing 11 years professionally and scoring 64 career touchdowns. The defining moment of his college career however, came on this day 60 years ago.
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