Oxford swells with success

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Record crowd fills Oxford, campus as Rebels surge

The stars were aligned for Ole Miss on Saturday night. A full moon. An electric, record crowd of 66,703. A powerful offensive attack. And a little bit of luck, as LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels’ potential game-winning pass into the endzone fell incomplete, sealing a 55-49 Rebel victory over the 12th-ranked Tigers on a magical night at Vaught-Hemingway.

The record crowd inside the stadium translated to perhaps the busiest visitors weekend ever for the city – a welcome, but daunting three days of work for Oxford municipal employees and retail businesses.

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“When we have such a large volume of visitors to Oxford, our community has the unique opportunity to show our guests who we are. Retailers, restaurants, and other businesses can roll out the red carpet for all guests and let them get to know who we are in Oxford,” said Pam Swain, senior vice president of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce. 

All available hotel rooms and private rentals were booked and restaurants were crowded all weekend. Despite minor traffic gridlocks at various parts of the city, the influx of people found their way to the  Square retail shops, and those located in the proximity of the heart of downtown.

“We saw large crowds all weekend,” said Oxford Police Chief Jeff McCutchen. “We did not have any major incidents. The crowds were well behaved. Hopefully, we will continue to see great crowds. Square Jam is this weekend, which is always a fun event. I’m thankful for all of the support from our first responders. We had a large number of law enforcement officers out as well as the Oxford Fire Department. Everyone worked hard to provide a safe atmosphere for our community. We could not have done it without them.”

Retail activity is best measured by the sales tax collection report issued by the state each month. The September report, which will include the Friday and Saturday activity in Oxford will be released in November, and will surely reflect the considerable commerce increase associated with this weekend’s record game attendance on campus and retail business for Oxford merchants.

As for the actual game itself, Ole Miss (4-1, 1-1 SEC) and LSU (3-2, 2-1 SEC) combined for a mind-boggling 104 points and 1,343 yards, but it all came down to that final play with five seconds on the clock and the Tigers in position to win on a walk-off touchdown in the endzone. 

Ole Miss safety Daijahn Anthony had different ideas, though, as he broke up the potential 26-yard game-winner, putting all 66,703 in attendance into a frenzy as the celebration was underway. 

The tale of the tape on this one was lengthy. The 55 Rebel points stand as the most scored against an AP ranked opponent in Ole Miss history, the combined point total of 104 stands as the third-most in conference history between two SEC opponents, and the 1,343 yards of total offense stands as the fifth-most in the history of the SEC – the most since 2020. 

This game stands out in the Rebel record books as well, with Ole Miss’ 706 yards of total offense ranking sixth all-time – giving head coach Lane Kiffin four of the six 700-yard games in program history. 

Ole Miss will remain home this week to host Arkansas (2-3, 0-2 SEC) on Oct. 7, with kickoff at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium set for 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network. University and city officials aren’t expecting to set another attendance record, but with the Rebels moving up in national polls and another level of excitement building among the Ole Miss faithful, they are preparing for another tremendous weekend in Oxford.