theknightswhosay

Posts Tagged ‘1993’

Playoffs: Are You Kidding Me?

In College Football, General LSU, History, Me, Rankings Commentary on July 6, 2012 at 5:16 PM

There has been some big news in how college football is going to handle the end of the season starting in a couple of years (Also check out this post on my ratings site with top 4 lists from the past few seasons), but I can’t help but think about the end to the most-recent season.

As you might have guessed, I’m still slightly traumatized by the way college football ended 6 months ago. At first, I couldn’t even listen to “Sweet Home Alabama”. While I’ve gotten over that, I was still moderately offended by what appeared to be a houndstooth wall in a hotel room I stayed in recently, for example.

I also don’t like that Monarchy of Roses song by Red Hot Chili Peppers (which mentions a “crimson tide is flowing”), but that might just be because it’s not a good song.

It’s not just because I’m an LSU fan. It’s also because of the special regard I have for the University of Alabama. I’ll explain. Unlike most other teams, LSU does not have an unquestionable #1 rival. The most equally reciprocated rivalry is probably that with Arkansas, but I think Hogs fans would still rather beat Texas despite that being an irregular rivalry in the last couple of decades. Texas of course seems more interested in their rivalries with Texas A&M and Oklahoma (or I guess I should use past tense in the former case). I don’t know if I’m representative of most LSU fans, but if the Tigers could only beat one team all year, I would choose Alabama. I don’t really care if Alabama regards its rivalries with Tennessee and Auburn as more important. I’m generally happy to cheer for them to lose to the Vols or to those other Tigers too.

Something else that bothered me was that LSU had successfully navigated the great SEC without a single loss. This included 8 regular-season conference games and a game against a ninth team in the SEC championship. Also, the Fighting Tigers had beaten Oregon and West Virginia, who each went on to win BCS bowls, and had not lost out of conference.

Despite the change of heart by the voters in 2006 to avoid a rematch scenario, I knew it would happen one of these years, but for this team, my team, to have to play a team they had already beaten on the road in order to claim a championship, that especially wasn’t right, even before knowing the result. If LSU had lost a game to another team, then I would have had absolutely no problem with it. But in the ONE game to win a national championship (after already winning 13), they had to line up against this same team again? You can’t pretend that’s the same thing as playing and beating a new opponent.

I also wasn’t a stranger to history. I knew that although LSU beat Ole Miss in 1959 on Billy Cannon’s historic punt return, Ole Miss would win the Sugar Bowl (by a score of 21-0) in a rematch.

Billy Cannon on his way to the end zone on October 31, 1959.

But at least LSU had lost to Tennessee, so they weren’t playing for a national championship anyway. The two teams were on equal footing. Yes, they had played one another, but each had finished with one loss against a similar schedule before that Sugar Bowl game. It wasn’t 9-0 in conference play vs. 7-1 with at 6 common conference opponents like it was last year.

And not just looking at it from LSU’s perspective, shouldn’t another team who wasn’t on LSU’s schedule get the opportunity to be the one team to knock them off?

Getting to the point, I hope there is a silver lining in that LSU fans aren’t the only people with a bad taste left in their mouths from this game and that this game helped lead to the 4-team playoff. I’m a big SEC fan, I will demand that the SEC gets every bit of credit it deserves; but it can’t be good for college football to claim a championship of 120 teams should simply be two teams of the same division of the same conference playing one another for the second time. I don’t believe it was right to tell Oklahoma St. (a team I thought should have gone ahead of Alabama anyway) that in order to go ahead of a team who didn’t even win its division that they should have gone undefeated. The sport should demand at a minimum access to a championship for other teams. Even though only 9 teams did, all 11 SEC teams had a chance to play LSU. The other SEC East teams (Vanderbilt and South Carolina) should have beaten Georgia or at least finished with a better record than Georgia did. No one should have been concerned about SEC teams having a fair chance but about the 100+ teams that didn’t have even a theoretical chance to play LSU outside of a national championship game last season.

There are going to be some people who want to say that based on the results Alabama must have been the right choice. What happened after the fact does not go back in time and change the arguments. But even if that were valid, assuming LSU’s offense was similarly inept, maybe the first five scores by Oklahoma St. would have had some touchdowns mixed in, so the result could have easily been worse.

I didn’t even notice this development with the semifinal format until the last couple of days. I guess it’s the fact that while I mostly only blog about football, I have been a bit distracted by the European “Football” Championships, Wimbledon, and baseball, not to mention certain recent political developments and having a job.

Reflections on non-playoffs

My feelings about Alabama precede the arrival of Nick Saban by the better part of a decade, although he did increase my desire for LSU to win this annual game. It’s also the fact that for the first time since the early 1990s Alabama seems to have a good team every year once again. 1992, Alabama’s last pre-Saban championship, was actually the year where I didn’t feel slightly cheated by not having a playoff. Although I was new to the sports word at that time (1988 was basically the first year I understood and remembered what was going on for any sport) I was aware of there being some controversy between Miami and Notre Dame. But I didn’t worry about them playing one another because, as I’m sure someone explained to me, they did play one another, so voters had information from that game to inform them. 1988 had also been a presidential election year, so some aspects of voting had also been explained to me. It didn’t seem to be a problem that this is how it was done in college football.

1990 and 1991 showed that voting wasn’t good enough. The two teams that claimed national championships should have played one another. Georgia Tech should have played Colorado, and then Miami should have played Washington the next year. But these were just two-team controversies.

In 1992, Miami did play Alabama. Unlike their games against Notre Dame in the prior years, this was actually played at the end of the season in the Sugar Bowl. While I didn’t particularly care about that outcome either way (to me, Miami seemed like the more dominant team and this was before I heard talk of Alabama’s dozen national championships or whatever it was at that point), it was nice to have it decided on the field once and for all. So if someone had told my 11-year-old self at that point that we’re going to have the best two teams play each other for the championship every year, I probably wouldn’t have thought of any objection to this.

Then came 1993. There were two extremely good undefeated teams, Auburn and Nebraska. Auburn wasn’t eligible for a bowl game, but I still wanted to know whether they were as good as those other teams. Florida St. had lost at Notre Dame before the Irish lost to Boston College. So Boston College was the only team from outside of the top 4 to have beaten a top-4 team, and I believe they did so by a single point. Florida St. would narrowly beat Nebraska in a bowl game and Notre Dame won their bowl game as well. Nebraska playing Florida St. didn’t seem to really solve anything. It just made it so that, along with undefeated Auburn who wasn’t in any bowl game, we had a team who lost to Notre Dame, a team who (beat Florida St. but) lost to Boston College, and a team who lost to Florida St. Contrary to the apparent opinion of Notre Dame fans, I did not believe the bowls strengthened the Irish’s position. They beat Texas A&M while Florida St. beat Nebraska. Had Notre Dame beaten Auburn, then I might have given more credence to the idea that you knock it down to the top two and pick the winner. But even that wouldn’t have been satisfactory. Losing to Boston College was certainly worse than losing to Notre Dame.

So we really would have needed another game. This is what I touched on earlier, there can be a circumstance where such a rematch makes sense.

Florida St. should have played Auburn (assuming Auburn didn’t deserve to be higher) and Notre Dame should have played Nebraska. If Florida St. and Notre Dame had both won, so be it.

After nothing too unusual happened in 1994 (the then-common two-team dispute, when Penn St. should have played Nebraska) and 1995 (when Nebraska beat Florida), another situation, also involving Florida St., took place in 1996. Florida, despite the big loss at the end of the 1995 season, looked like the #1 team (almost) all year until they lost a close game in Tallahassee. Ohio St. looked on its way to perhaps an undefeated season when the Buckeyes lost to archrival Michigan by 4 points the week before. There were two undefeated teams, Florida St. and Arizona St. What actually happened was Ohio St. beat Arizona St. in the Rose Bowl, and Florida beat Florida St. in the Sugar Bowl. Florida, like Alabama did last year, took a close loss and made it into a big win in the rematch. But Florida St. should have played Ohio St., and Florida should have played Arizona St. This was another instance where the solution was clear, there should have been a way to have these four teams play to decide the championship.

Regardless, it has seemed to me since that time that four should be the minimum number involved. Of course, there have been other times since then when two wasn’t enough (2001 and 2003 come to mind), but all that did was confirm what I already believed.

Conclusion

I would mention one proviso that I think should be added regarding possible rematches. In 2009, my ratings suggest that Alabama should have played Florida in the semifinal. I think college football should adopt a modified version of the baseball rule where two teams in the same division could not play one another in the first round. Except I would say that in the semifinals two teams that played one another already should not play again. If a rematch of some type is unavoidable, then you have a non-conference rematch rather than an intra-conference rematch. So I think it should avoid rematches but obviously not forbid them entirely.

I wouldn’t have had any problem at all last season with Alabama being included in the top 4 and settling the question of which team should be in the title game with Oklahoma St. on the field. I think some of LSU’s problems stemmed from having played Alabama, but if the LSU offense played just as poorly and the coaching staff failed to make adjustments similarly, LSU could have lost to a number of teams in the semifinal. But none of those teams would have had an advantage the way Alabama did, so I think the loss would have been easier to take. And from a more neutral fan perspective, it would have also been better to let other teams see what they can do against these two great SEC teams.

One criticism that is always going to take place is, no matter what number we get to, someone will always say they should be #4 instead of #5, #8 instead of #9, #68 instead of #69, whatever. (I’ve forgotten how many at-larges there are in college basketball, but apparently at-larges can be as bad as 14-seeds, which is a tie for 53rd.)

I can’t think of a #5 team that I really thought should have been a national champion or strongly considered for a championship. The best team I can think of that wouldn’t have made any of the top 4 lists was Utah in 2008, but I didn’t think they were so good until they beat Alabama the way they did. But maybe that was more a reflection of Alabama than it was of Utah, like I think LSU’s performance in the 2011 championship was more a reflection of LSU failing to execute, well, anything offensively than it was of Alabama having an overwhelming performance on either side of the ball.

So let’s say Alabama gets blown out by Oklahoma instead of by Utah (and Oklahoma then went on to lost to Florida as they did in the real championship game that year), and Utah had beaten the ACC or Big East champion. Although Utah would have still been undefeated, I don’t think their case looks the same.at the end of the day.

So far, the Boise St.’s and TCU’s and Utahs haven’t been able to play for a championship. That’s a far different dynamic, but the fact that, as mentioned on my rating site, one of those teams might have had a chance just about every year, that’s a lot better even if there may be a situation where there are two such teams in the mix and a committee has to pick just one. Even if they lose out to someone like the 2009 Florida team, that team went 12-0 to start out too. You can’t really argue they had a tougher road, they just suffered the inconvenience of having to play a championship game which those other teams did not. So I can’t imagine feeling that bad for a #5 team.

But on the other hand, if that Florida team had been left out, I wouldn’t have had a problem with the argument of, “You had your chance and you lost.” Same thing if somehow this year LSU had lost to Georgia and was not included in the semifinals.

Putting all the technicalities and arguments aside, this is exciting. So when this is implemented in 2014, I’ll have been waiting for about 20 years. Even though I have time to prepare myself, I don’t quite believe it right now and probably won’t quite believe it then. I just hope nothing too silly happens in the next two seasons.

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Rivalry Series: LSU vs. Alabama

In Rivalry on November 14, 2010 at 1:11 AM
Bear-Bryant-Mike-the-Tiger-570x3831

Bear Bryant with Mike the Tiger

Please see the LSU-Alabama page for yearly entries from the past few seasons that will supplement this.

Final scores, 2000 to present (I decided to start when Nick Saban first came to LSU)
2000 – LSU 30, Alabama 28
2001 – LSU 35, Alabama 31
2002 – Alabama 31, LSU 0
2003 – LSU 27, Alabama 3
2004 – LSU 26, Alabama 10
2005 – LSU 16, Alabama 13 (OT)
2006 – LSU 28, Alabama 14
2007 – LSU 41, Alabama 34
2008 – Alabama 27, LSU 21 (OT)
2009 – Alabama 24, LSU 15
2010 – LSU 24, Alabama 21
2011 – LSU 9, Alabama 6 (OT)
2011 BCS – Alabama 21, LSU 0
2012 – Alabama 21, LSU 17
2013 – Alabama 38, LSU 17*
2014 – Alabama 20, LSU 13 (OT)
2015 – Alabama 30, LSU 16
2016 – Alabama 10, LSU 0
2017 – Alabama 24, LSU 10
2018 – Alabama 29, LSU 0

*Game was tied with 4:11 remaining in third quarter.

Series facts (updated after the 2017 game)

Alabama has leads in the series 53-25-5 overall, 23-16-2 in Alabama in general, 13-9 in Tuscaloosa, 28-9-2 in Baton Rouge, and 1-0-1 in New Orleans.

LSU only leads in Mobile (2-1-1, the last meeting in 1958, the first game of Bear Bryant’s career at Alabama and of LSU’s last undefeated season).
Largest win: Alabama, 47-3 in 1922 (largest shutout was 42-0 in Baton Rouge in 1925)
Largest LSU win: 28-0 in 1957

Longest winning streak: Alabama, 11, 1971-1981
Longest unbeaten streak: Alabama, 12 (9-0-3), 1919-1945
Longest LSU winning streak: 5, 2003-2007

Longest road winning streak: Alabama, 7, 1987-1998 and 1971-1983
Longest road unbeaten streak: Alabama, 15 (14-0-1), 1971-1998
Longest LSU road winning streak: 4, 1982-1988 and 2001-2007

Longest home winning streak: Alabama, 5, 1972-80
Longest home unbeaten streak: Alabama, 8 (7-0-1), 1920-1947
(LSU has only won two in a row at home twice, 1946 & 1948 and 2004 & 2006)

Since only winning twice from 1989 to 1999, inclusive, LSU had won 9 of 12 in the series before losing to the Tide in the BCS championship following the 2011 season. That means Alabama once led 42-16-5.

The only periods of time comparable to that for LSU took place from 1946-58 (5-3-1) and 1982-88 (4-2-1). Apart from those time periods, LSU is only 7-40-3 against the Tide (including the three LSU losses since).

Before 2013, LSU had won 5 of 6 and 8 of 12 in Tuscaloosa and 11 of 14 in the state of Alabama in general.

2010 and 2011 were only the third and fourth respective times that LSU beat an eventual 10-win Alabama team (the others being 1986 and 2005).

2017 was the 54th consecutive season LSU played Alabama. Alabama is the fifth-longest streak for LSU and third-longest current streak after only Mississippi St. and Ole Miss. The Kentucky streak was broken by the SEC in 2003, and the Tulane streak was ended by LSU in the 1995 season.

Road teams are 24-10-1 in this series since 1981.

Intro

I know what you might be thinking as far as “rivalry”–Alabama’s biggest rivals are Tennessee and Auburn. While this is true, LSU has had no such rivals in the conference since Tulane left after the 1965 season. LSU started playing Auburn and Arkansas consistently only when the SEC split into two divisions, which coincided with Arkansas’s joining the conference in 1992. (LSU and Arkansas did have a big rivalry before World War II.) Florida and LSU don’t have the same history insofar as battling for #1 in the conference as LSU and Alabama. LSU started playing Florida every year in 1971 and it wasn’t until 1983 that the Gators finished with fewer than 3 losses, and only once in that time period did they finish with 3. As for Ole Miss, that rivalry peaked in the 1960s–only twice since 1974 (1986 and 2003) have both teams finished with winning records in conference in the same season–and the Rebels have a natural rivalry with Miss St. anyway. I’ll start with series facts, transitioning into more narrative about the LSU/Alabama rivalry.

Numbers don’t really prove a rivalry, but it is worth mentioning that Alabama is LSU’s 4th most commonly-played opponent and only one of the three series that were played more (Ole Miss) has been competitive lately (defined as three wins or more by the opponent over the last 10 games). The 2011 game was the 75th between LSU and Alabama. LSU is also fourth on Alabama’s list and the only more-played rivalry that has been competitive for Alabama lately is Tennessee. Alabama has played LSU more than it has played Auburn (at least since 1902).

I had been adding something after each game, but I’m just going to say that even though the 2013 game looks as bad as the Jan. 2012 loss on the scoreboard, LSU was much more in the game. LSU fumbled away what should have been at least 10 points in the first half, and then LSU still had the ball deep in Alabama territory down 14 with about 10 minutes left. (The coaches made the right decision not to kick the field goal, but if the score were a good bit closer, they may have done so.) This is the first time Alabama has won 3 in a row over LSU since 1996.

Timing and presidential coincidence (added after the 2012 game)

The Tigers have made the SEC championship game 5 times, but all were in odd-numbered years. LSU has played @Auburn and @Florida in every even-numbered year since the SEC championship game began. The Tigers have also hosted Alabama in even-numbered years that whole time and have generally fared worse against the Tide at home than on the road.

For the eighth presidential election in a row, the LSU/Alabama game has corresponded with the outcome of the presidential election. It’s simple: LSU beats Alabama in an election year, the Republican wins; Alabama beats LSU, the Democrat wins. So if you don’t like Obama, blame Les Miles for getting him re-elected. The Alabama/LSU game often takes place after the election though.

The game also has had added significance because of when it is played on the calendar. With only a handful of exceptions since this became an annual game in 1964, the game is played between November 3 and November 11 (election day falls between 11/2 and 11/8). From 2002 to 2005, it was played only slightly later in November (the latest being the 16th). In 1973, it was played on November 22; and in 1981, it was the opener for both teams. The 2011 bowl rematch was in January of course.

Mississippi St. has moved around on LSU’s schedule several times, but the traditional order for LSU is Ole Miss (late October, early November), Alabama, Mississippi St., and Tulane (replaced by Arkansas starting about 20 years ago, but a few times it was Tulane followed by Arkansas). Alabama and Mississippi St. are back in their normal spots this season with Arkansas last, but Ole Miss has instead been LSU’s second-to-last regularly-scheduled SEC opponent every year since 2002. Next year, Alabama and Arkansas will remain in their traditional spots, but several teams will be out of order due to the addition of Texas A&M as the second-to-last opponent. LSU was not able to secure a bye week before the Alabama game, but they will be facing an FCS opponent (Furman) that week. (This was later changed when Furman was bumped up a week.)

2011 Post-game narrative:
The last time LSU was in a game where the only scoring was field goal(s), they lost to Alabama, 3-0, in 1979. Alabama won the national championship that year as the only major undefeated and untied team. Going back to 2011, Les Miles moved past Nick Saban in wins against Alabama, 5 to 4 (Miles admittedly leads Saban in losses against Alabama, 2-1). No other coach in LSU history had more than two wins against Alabama, although Bill Arnsparger (1984-86) was an impressive 2-0-1, the tie of course coming in Baton Rouge. If LSU can get past Arkansas, Miles will have a winning record with LSU against every SEC team except for Georgia (1-2). (That would have been true even had LSU lost this game though.) LSU has now won 11 of the last 15 against the Tide in the state of Alabama and 7 of 9 against the Tide overall. It’s just bizarre that LSU has as many wins in Tuscaloosa in this series as in Baton Rouge despite playing about half as many games in Tuscaloosa. The two teams are tied in their last 31 games (15-15-1), their last 29 games (14-14-1), their last 27 games (13-13-1), and their last 22 games (11-11) against one another. One more thing: LSU now leads in overtimes in the series, 2-1. The Tigers had won in 2005 (in Tuscaloosa, of course) and lost in 2008 (in Baton Rouge, of course).

(The remainder of this entry is as it was written in 2010.)

LSU coaches

During the game last week, the trivia question was, “Which LSU coach has the most wins against Alabama,” with the predictable answer, Nick Saban. With the win incidentally, he was tied by Les Miles, who is now 4-2 against the Tide. Saban was 4-1, although to be fair to Miles, Alabama wasn’t as hard to beat back then. For instance, in Saban’s first year, the Tigers lost to Alabama-Birmingham before beating the Tide.

After the trivia question, they then showed the list of LSU coaches and in a tie for third (with two wins) is Charlie McClendon, who coached LSU for 16 seasons.

The most frustrating period of the rivalry for LSU was 1967 to 1977, during which LSU lost 2 games or fewer in conference 8 times. One of the years (1970), the Tigers finished undefeated (although with three non-conference losses, including in the bowl game). In the rest of the years, with one exception (1969, in Baton Rouge), LSU lost to Alabama. In each of the other three years in that time frame, LSU lost to Alabama.

If you were wondering why I mentioned the location of the 1969 game–in every Alabama @ LSU game over the next 30 seasons, LSU lost to Alabama. It wasn’t completely one-sided either, as LSU won @ Alabama 7 times in the interim, about half the time. There was one tie in Baton Rouge, in 1985. (I’ve seen people argue on this basis, so if you were curious, the first 4 of the 7 were in Birmingham.)

In 1972, both teams finished with one loss in the conference, but LSU finished third rather than first because of the loss. In 1973, LSU was one of two teams to finish the SEC with less than 3 conference losses: LSU lost 1, and Bama lost none. In 1979, LSU would have finished in a tie for first had it beaten Bama, to whom the Tigers had lost 3-0 at home. 1979 was McClendon’s last season at LSU.

Had LSU beaten rather than tied Bama in 1985 (Bill Arnsparger was the coach by that time), LSU would have also tied for first. In 1986, the tables turned: the LSU/Bama game proved to be decisive, but LSU won this time. In only three seasons (1984-86), Arnsparger won 2 games against Alabama himself. Arnsparger was the only LSU coach between McClendon and Saban (20 seasons under 5 different coaches who faced the Tide) who beat Alabama more than once.

In 1987, the Tigers’ only loss all season was to Alabama, without which the Tigers of course would have repeated. LSU tied for the championship in 1988 and then didn’t make a bowl game until until 1995. Admittedly that cooled off the rivalry, but those 20 years still weren’t exactly a distant memory. Even when LSU only lost 6 games from 1995 to 1997, two of them were to Alabama.

There were some big games in the 1990s and early 2000s though. LSU was the first team to beat Alabama after the Tide’s 1992 national championship, putting an end to a 30-game undefeated streak. Then in 1996, LSU lost the SEC West due to the head-to-head tie-breaker in favor of Alabama. In 1997, LSU finally beat rivals Alabama and Florida, but losses to Auburn and Ole Miss kept the Tigers out of the SEC championship game. LSU won in Tuscaloosa for their first win against Alabama since 1993 and only their second since 1988. Although otherwise unremarkable, 2000 was a big win for LSU because it was LSU’s first home win against Alabama since 1969. Bama only won 3 games that year and LSU won 7, but the Tigers still only beat the Tide by 2. And of course in 2005, LSU was the first team to beat Bama, who had started 9-0.

I’ll get to comparisons of the recent Alabama coaches, a few of whom coached against LSU at other schools.

Other connections include Curley Hallman, whose biggest win as LSU head coach was over Alabama in 1993 (in terms of winning percentage, he was easily the worst LSU head coach of more than 10 games in history). He was an assistant at Alabama for Bryant after playing at Texas A&M under Gene Stallings, who was Alabama’s coach in 1993. Sylvester Croom and Jackie Sherill, both of whom LSU gave fits at Mississippi St. (Sherill also coached at A&M, where he was 0-3 against LSU), had played for successful Alabama teams. Alabama coaches Ray Perkins and Mike Shula had played for Bryant as well, although neither did particularly well as head coaches against LSU either.

Alabama coaches: Bear Bryant to present (in reverse order)

Nick Saban
Michigan St. vs. LSU (1995-99), 0-1
LSU vs. Alabama (2000-04), 4-1
Alabama vs. LSU, 2-2

His match-up against LSU while he was at Michigan St. consisted of the 1995 Independence Bowl, in the first year of his predecessor Gerry DiNardo. LSU was 6-4-1 entering the game, having finished fourth in the SEC West. Michigan St. was also 6-4-1 and had finished fifth in the Big Ten in Saban’s first year there. LSU won the game, 45-26. Although LSU had the crowd on its side, which may have helped the margin of victory, this probably did not affect the outcome.

In Saban’s first season (2000), LSU beat Alabama in Baton Rouge for the first time since 1969. Although LSU would finish with an 8-4 record and Alabama would finish 3-8, the Tigers only won 30-28. But the Tide was right back to normal in Tiger Stadium in 2002, winning 31-0, Saban’s only loss to the Tide. LSU won the other games against Alabama in Saban’s tenure by at least 14 points each.

Mike Shula
vs. LSU (2003-06), 0-4

His only game of note against the Tigers was a 16-13 overtime loss for the Tide’s first loss in 2005, which so happened to be Les Miles’ first year. The game was Miles’ first win over a top ten opponent at LSU. LSU was 2-1 in overtime games that year (beating Auburn and losing to Tennessee, both at home). The contest was the only time Shula lost to LSU by less than 14.

In the game, Alabama led 10-0 in the second quarter after Brodie Croyle connected with DJ Hall. In the first half, the #3 Tide out-gained the #5 Tigers, 207-72, and only allowed 5 first downs. LSU opened the second half with a nine-play, 80-yard drive and kept the Tide from getting another first down until they tied the game on a 42-yard field goal with 5:46 left in the third quarter. Not much offense ensued, although LSU would miss three subsequent field goal attempts, and the game went to OT tied at 10. After Alabama got the opening possession and kicked a field goal, LSU decided not to rely on kicking anymore, and JaMarcus Russell threw the game-winning, 11-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe. Russell finished at 16-30 for 229 and no interceptions. Alabama out-gained LSU for the game, 284-275, and had more first downs, 20-16. As a side note, Croyle and Bowe are both Kansas City Chiefs now.

Dennis Franchione
vs. LSU (2001-02), 1-1

Franchione’s two seasons at Alabama coincided with Nick Saban’s second and third at LSU. The Tide lost to the eventual SEC Champions, 35-21, at home in 2001. Alabama’s 31-0 win in 2002 took place as the Tide finished the season 10-3 by winning 6 of its last 7. The Tide were ineligible for a bowl game that year, and LSU would lose to Texas in the Cotton Bowl to finish 8-5.

Franchione is the third coach (at least that I know of) to coach both Alabama and A&M; but the LSU/A&M rivalry was discontinued after 1995, so he never coached against LSU while there.

Mike DuBose
vs. LSU (1997-2000), 2-2

DuBose lost his first game against LSU, 27-0, in 1997, when LSU would finish 9-3 and Alabama 4-7. DuBose’s teams then beat LSU by 6 each of the next two years, however, LSU only won a combined 7 games in those two years while the Tide won a combined 17. Those two wins were of course followed by Saban’s first season at LSU, in which the Tigers won. Somewhat dampening the mood surrounding the end of the Tide’s 15-game unbeaten streak in Baton Rouge for Tiger fans was the fact that Bama didn’t win any road games at all that year.

Gene Stallings
@Alabama vs. LSU (1990-96), 6-1
@Texas A&M vs. LSU (1965-71), 1-5-1

I mentioned the 1993 game above.

LSU also came close to a huge upset in 1991. The Tigers would finish with a losing record and Alabama would finish 11-1, but Bama only won 20-17 at Tiger Stadium. The only other game that was close (decided by fewer than eighteen) in the Stallings era was in 1995 when the Tide won 10-3 to avenge the end of its 31-game unbeaten streak in the previous contest in Tuscaloosa.

Stallings’ one win against LSU while at A&M was one of only two wins that season, the other against Wichita St. (which stopped having a football team in 1986), in 1970, a year in which LSU would win the SEC outright. The Tigers have not gone unbeaten in the SEC since. All contests against the Tigers during his time in College Station were played in Baton Rouge. Stallings had only one winning record in his seven seasons with the Aggies, beating Alabama in the Cotton Bowl after the 1967 season (Curley Hallman grabbed two Ken Stabler intereceptions in that game). LSU, who eventually won the Sugar Bowl that year, beat the Aggies, 17-6. The tie took place in 1966, in unremarkable 5-4-1 and 4-5-1 respective seasons, except it was remarkable in the fact that it was LSU’s worst season between 1961 and 1980.

Bill Curry
Alabama vs. LSU (1987-89), 2-1
Kentucky vs. LSU (1990-96), 3-4

In 1987, Curry’s first season, his team defeated LSU, 22-10, in Baton Rouge but did not win another game and finished 7-5. LSU, on the other hand, finished 10-1-1, and as a result of the loss, came in second to Auburn.

In 1988 (also extensively discussed in the LSU/Auburn rivalry blog), the Tigers continued their run to the SEC co-championship (with Auburn) by beating the Tide, 19-18, in Tuscaloosa.

In 1989, Curry’s team beat the Tigers to go 9-0 on the way to a 10-0 start, 32-16. This coincided with only the third losing season for LSU since 1956.

LSU continued its losing ways almost throughout Curry’s tenure at Kentucky, but the Wildcats didn’t fare much better. 1992 and 1994 were probably the sorriest match-ups during that period. 1992 was Curry’s only win with the Cats in Baton Rouge, but LSU would finish 2-9 and Kentucky would finish 4-7. In 1994, Kentucky’s lone win of the season was over Louisville in the opener. They still managed to make it close against LSU, losing 17-13 in Baton Rouge. LSU finished 4-7.

In 1993, Curry’s most successful season at Kentucky (6-6, with a loss to Clemson in the Peach Bowl), Kentucky won 35-17.

Although LSU would finish 7-4-1 in 1995, the Tigers lost to Kentucky, who would finish 4-7, anyway. LSU made the unfortunate decision to wear purple pants for the game. And rather than causing Kentucky to avert its eyes for the entire contest, it seemed to make the Tigers self-conscious. I don’t think LSU has worn purple pants since. The final was 24-16 in Lexington. Curry had another 4-7 campaign in his final year, but LSU, on its way to a 10-2 record, had no problem with the Cats this time, 41-14.

Ray Perkins
vs. LSU (1983-86), 1-2-1

Both home games against the Tigers were played in Birmingham and both were losses. No contest against LSU while Perkins was at Alabama was decided by less than 6 points. Alabama won by 6 in 1983, then LSU won by 2 in 1984 and by 4 in 1986. 1986 was Perkins’ final year, and after a 7-0 start, the Tide lost 3 of its last 5 regular-season games, to Penn St., LSU, and Auburn, before winning the Sun Bowl over Washington. 1986 was LSU’s most recent outright SEC title before Nick Saban came to Baton Rouge.

Bear Bryant
Alabama vs. LSU (1958-82), 16-4
Texas A&M vs. LSU (1954-57), 2-0
Kentucky vs. LSU (1946-53), 2-1-1

For his career, he was 20-5-1 against the Tigers with a total of 6 shutouts.

The head coach of Kentucky the first time the Wildcats played LSU was none other than Bear Bryant, who always seemed to give the Tigers trouble. His teams shut out the Tigers the first two times he faced them, before LSU beat Kentucky in his second-to-last season there and tied them in his last. LSU-Kentucky was a yearly rivalry from that time until 2003, after the SEC decided on one permanent inter-division rivalry per team.

His success in the LSU-Alabama series is despite the fact that he lost to the Tigers, 13-3, at Mobile in 1958, his first season at Alabama. LSU won the national championship that year, and the Tide finished 5-4-1 and only 3-4-1 in conference. Still, it was a vast improvement over the previous three years, in which Bama had only won four games combined.

To go back to LSU coaches for a second, the 1958 win was the second in a row over Alabama for LSU coach Paul Dietzel. The only subsequent LSU coaches to do so have been Charles McClendon (1969 & 1970), Nick Saban (2000 & 2001 and 2003 & 2004), and Les Miles (2005-07). Dietzel did not lose to Alabama, but he did not face the Tide (at least not with LSU) after that 1958 game.

The Tide would win a national championship of its own in 1961 but wouldn’t be able to return the favor against the Tigers until 1964, a 10-1 season in which Alabama won the polls but lost the bowl game. Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss were unofficial national co-champions in 1962, when USC won the major polls as well as the vast majority of other ranking systems for its first national championship. 1962 was LSU’s last claim to a national championship, recognized by the NCAA anyway, until 2003; but Alabama would get several and beat LSU often for the remainder of its contests against them under Bryant. LSU’s only subsequent wins over Bear Bryant were 1969, 1970, and 1982.

Despite his claim that playing at Tiger Stadium was like playing inside a drum, he was 10-1-1 there overall and 8-1 with the Tide. LSU was 3-8 against Bryant in the state of Alabama.

Other Rivalry Series entries

Team List:
Arkansas
Auburn (2010 post-game)
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
Mississippi St.
Ole Miss
(Steve Spurrier and) South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas A&M

Special editions:
Pac-12