It took more than a half, but the slumbering Mississippi offense finally heard Tom Luke's wakeup call.
Luke's two second-half touchdown runs pushed No. 21 Ole Miss to a 21-9 Southeastern Conference victory over Mississippi State on Saturday, enhancing the Rebels' chances for a New Year's Day bowl invitation.
"They were trying to stop Randy (Baldwin) on the option, and they did well with that, but they were over-pursuing on him and that opened the door for me," said Luke, the sophomore quarterback who has led the Rebels to six victories in seven starts. "When I'm looking upfield and guys are chasing me, I do what comes natural for me. It's basically sandlot football for me, like when I was 10 or 11 years old."
Ole Miss improved to 9-2 overall and 5-2 in the SEC, keeping alive faint hopes for the SEC title and a Sugar Bowl bid. Also in the picture for the Rebels are the Peach and Gator bowls, but a decision won't come until next Saturday after the conference title is decided.
Mississippi State fell to 5-6, 1-6.
"Our defense played great. It's hard to time after time stop an option team," Mississippi State Coach Rockey Felker said.
Felker is under fire because the Bulldogs have won only two SEC games in the last two years and five in his five seasons. His contract, which has a year to go, will be reviewed later this month.
Luke, who ran for 136 yards in 18 carries, got Ole Miss' dormant option offense rolling late in the third quarter, down 3-0.
The Rebels went 84 yards in nine plays for the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter. Luke's 26-yard completion to tight end Camp Roberts on a third-down play kept the drive alive in Mississippi State territory, and Luke ran the final 32 yards on an option play.