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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Arnsparger’

History of Undefeated LSU vs. Alabama

In College Football, General LSU, History, Preview, Rivalry on October 30, 2015 at 2:57 PM

You can see the main entry of the LSU-Alabama rivalry here.

Alabama has beaten LSU 49 times with only 25 losses but has only beaten the Tigers twice at home this century.

I’ll just start by giving the list. I’ll fill in the blanks below. I’m excluding the times they played in the first few games. I’m including the couple of times LSU was undefeated in conference but not overall. The games at Alabama before 1988 were actually played in Birmingham.

1964 – @Alabama 17, LSU 9
1970* (undefeated in conference, not overall) – LSU 14, @Alabama 9
1972 – @Alabama 35, LSU 21
1973 – Alabama, 21, LSU 7
1982 – LSU 20, @Alabama 10
1984* (undefeated in conference, not overall) -LSU 16, @Alabama 14
1987* – Alabama 22, @LSU 10
2011* – LSU 9, @Alabama 6, ot
Jan. ’12* – Alabama 21, LSU 0

* = games when LSU had a higher ranking

Tenures of Coaches for Reference:
Bear Bryant 1958-82
Ray Perkins 1983-86
Bill Curry 1987-89
Nick Saban 2007-
Charles McClendon 1962-79
Jerry Stovall 1980-83
Bill Arnsparger 1984-86
Mike Archer 1987-90
Les Miles 2005-

Other Years Since 1958 with LSU Undefeated at the End of October:
1958 – stayed undefeated; national champions
1959 – lost to Tennessee by 1 in first week of November; lost Sugar Bowl
1962 – lost to Ole Miss by 8 in first week of November; won Sugar Bowl
1969 – lost to Ole Miss by 3 in first week of November; no bowl

Background

From talking to older fans, one might think LSU went undefeated several years in a row in the 60s and 70s only to lose to Alabama. That’s not what happened obviously, but I’ll try to explain why people think that.

I’m not going to get into detailed particulars of any games, just focus on the big picture of the seasons that are at least relevant to the time period.

A few years after LSU won its first recognized national championship in the poll era (and only before 2003), head coach Paul Dietzel left for Army. Hard to believe now, but Dietzel’s only coached three games against Alabama was in 7 seasons. He won all three.

Dietzel only coached against Bear Bryant in Bryant’s first game as head coach with Alabama. LSU won in Mobile, 13-3, actually not a bad result for the Tide being that this was the year of that LSU national championship I mentioned. Bama went 5-4-1 for its first winning season in five years

For the 18 seasons after Dietzel, Charles McClendon coached the Tigers. He’s still the winningest coach in LSU history, but he lacked any poll national championships and only won a single SEC title.

LSU had a number of good years, but shortly after Dietzel left and Alabama started to do well, LSU started playing Alabama every year. McClendon wasn’t winless against the Tide, but there was frequently a November hiccup against someone. I’ll cover the more interesting seasons.

There were a number of times in the late 60s and early 70s where ole miss was a big issue as well. LSU typically played the two in consecutive weeks, so this made it especially troublesome. See the Ole Miss blog for more, especially 1968 to 1972.

In 1962, LSU didn’t even play Alabama, but the Tigers did suffer their first loss in early November. That year it was Ole Miss. I wonder if people mix up Johnny Vaught (who also liked to wear suits and a hat and whose name is also on his team’s stadium now) with the Bear. Despite the loss, LSU is considered co-national champions by the Berryman system. Obviously I’m not counting that one as a major poll.

McClendon vs. Bryant

In 1964, Alabama derailed an LSU undefeated streak to start the season for the first time. The Tigers had tied Tennessee earlier though and would also lose to Florida before winning the Sugar Bowl over Syracuse. Alabama won the SEC but opted to play in the orange bowl instead.

LSU would also lose to Alabama the next four seasons but had lost at least twice before all four years.

1969 was much like 1962. LSU won every game until the first game of November against Ole Miss. Except this time the Tigers played and beat Alabama, the first win over the tide in 11 years.

The Tigers hoped to play in the cotton bowl for a potential claim on the national championship and refused all other invites. Instead notre dame decided at the last minute it wanted to go to a bowl game. So after one of the best LSU seasons in the last 50 years, the Tigers didn’t go to a bowl game at all.

LSU technically did not share the SEC championship since the Tigers only played five SEC games that season. This was shortly after Tulane left the SEC, and their spot remained on LSU’s schedule. SEC champion Tennessee had a blowout loss to Ole Miss, so they were apparently not considered title contenders.

LSU was not undefeated the next year against Alabama either, but they went (and stayed) undefeated in conference for McClendon’s only SEC championship. LSU had two non-conference losses though and also lost in the Orange Bowl.

In 1971, LSU lost early out of conference and lost to both Ole Miss and Alabama.

McClendon stayed at LSU until 1979, but in hindsight his last real chances to do anything were 1972 and 1973. This is why Alabama is usually brought up within seconds of his name being spoken among older LSU fans.

In 1972, LSU won in controversial fashion over Ole Miss 17-16 the previous week to remain undefeated. There were no heroics in Birmingham though, as #2 Alabama prevailed by 14. The Tigers would lose a bowl game to Tennessee to finish 9-2-1.

In 1973, LSU navigated all the non-conference traps including then-#10 Colorado but had only really been challenged in conference by Kentucky, with the Tigers winning by 7. Same result though. #2 Alabama again won by exactly two touchdowns.

LSU was apparently so disappointed that the next game they lost to Tulane for the first time since 1948. The Tigers would also lose the Orange bowl against Penn St. to finish 9-3.

McClendon would not beat Alabama again. Although his last team in 1979 was shut out, it held the #1 Tide to just a field goal.  There was some wind-driven dew causing inclement weather on the field though.

The 1980s

After McClendon, LSU hired Bo Rein, who tragically died in a plane crash before getting to coach the team. The Tigers turned to a loyal former player named Jerry Stovall, but he was an inconsistent coach.

So when the Tigers had the only really good start of his tenure (6-0-1), they went to #8 Alabama and won. Some may have thought happy days were in Baton Rouge again, but this feeling would be short-lived.

LSU would win a total of three games against top-10 teams that season (also Florida and Florida St.) but would lose to unranked Mississippi St. and Tulane (his second loss to them in a row) before losing in the Orange Bowl to Nebraska. The tie also came against an unranked team, Tennessee. Georgia, who LSU had not played, won the SEC.

After the Tigers went winless in the SEC the following year, defensive innovator Bill Arnsparger was at the helm in 1984. LSU once again beat Alabama in Birmingham but couldn’t win at Mississippi St. No more losses to Tulane to this day, but LSU did lose another Orange Bowl to finish 8-3-1. Florida, the team who tied LSU, would win the SEC, although the title was later vacated.

LSU lost early in Arnsparger’s other two seasons but tied Alabama in 1985 and beat them again in 1986. The ’86 win was the third road win in a row over the tide.

Between that 1969 season mentioned and Nick Saban’s first season in 2000 (in which LSU curiously lost to Alabama-Birmingham but beat the Tuscaloosa version), LSU did not beat Alabama at home even once.

In 1987, Arnsparger’s assistant Mike Archer took over. LSU was undefeated and untied in conference but had tied Ohio St. out of conference. Alabama won somewhat easily, 22-10, the Tigers’ only loss of the year. LSU finished 10-1-1 after winning the Gator Bowl.

Archer managed to win the SEC despite three non-conference losses the following year but couldn’t do much beyond that in the two losing seasons that followed.

The recent rivalry

Apart from those two games at the end of the list above, there isn’t much by way of undefeated LSU teams to talk about, but I thought I’d still tie up loose ends.

LSU only managed two winning seasons from 1989 to 1999. The longest LSU winning streak to start the season in that time was four games in 1996, so that didn’t come close to the Alabama game, but the Tide won 26-0 anyway. 1996 was one of only two 10-win LSU teams from 1962 to 2000.

The game has been in the first 16 days of November every year since 1982, so that limits the undefeated possibilities. Of course there are several examples of undefeated Alabama against LSU, and LSU has actually won a few of those in the last 20 years or so. That’s just obviously not the situation this year.

The intensity in the rivalry, despite a very entertaining overtime game in 2005, didn’t return to its prior levels until Saban took over in 2007. Although LSU won the national championship that year, the Tigers had lost to Kentucky in triple OT two games before the Alabama game.

Further evidence of the recent intensity is bye weeks. LSU had a bye before Alabama in 2007 and has had one from 2010 to at least 2016. Alabama has also typically had a bye before the LSU games. Their recent pre-LSU byes have been 2007, 2009-11, and 2013-2016 (and probably continuing afterward). Alabama won on the infamous screen pass in 2012 anyway.

2011 wasn’t that long ago, but that’s of course covered in my main rivalry entry.

Just as a side note, that weekend in 2011 was also one of the best of the history of this blog on WordPress and actually was the best full stop until last season when I got big boosts around the time of both Mississippi St. and Ole Miss.

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Rivalry Series: LSU vs. Notre Dame

In Bowls, College Football, Rivalry on December 29, 2014 at 6:10 PM
LSU graphic for the 1984 game.

LSU graphic for the 1984 game.

This doesn’t exactly fit the “rivalry” theme, but that’s what I decided to call blogs of this type.

There is a fair number of Notre Dame fans in Louisiana because of the Catholic population, so there always seems to be a fair amount of excitement over these games since the winner may have bragging rights for a while. I apologize in advance if this blog isn’t up to my usual standards. It was mostly written on an airplane, and I’m using an unfamiliar computer.

Tuesday’s game will be only the second meeting since 1998. In just over a year’s time, the Tigers had faced the Irish three times, winning only one. Apart from 2006 and 1981, all the other games were in groups of at least two, so I’ll do those together.

The series is tied, 5-5. LSU has won the only two “neutral” site games, but both were in Louisiana. LSU’s only win at Notre Dame was in 1985.

2006 (Sugar Bowl) – LSU 41, Notre Dame 14

The 2006 game (in the Sugar Bowl) was interesting, at least it was an interesting match-up going into the game. LSU didn’t win the SEC, but what had kept them from the title game was the loss to eventual national champions florida (whose berth in the championship opened up the Sugar) in the regular season. They also lost to auburn in a bizarre 7-3 game marred with officiating disputes.

Notre Dame entered that year with one of its strongest teams since the early ’90s. Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija led a very productive offense. Though neither Quinn nor LSU quarterback Jamarcus Russell amounted to much, they generated a lot of buzz for the NFL draft. Russell would be the #1 draft pick a few months later.

The game was competitive for a half, but LSU looked to be the stronger team all along. They just didn’t translate that into points as well in the first half. LSU won going away, 41-14.

When LSU won the national championship in 2007, it was remarkable not only for the two losses that season but also for the fact that so much talent had gone to the NFL after the previous season.

1997 – Notre Dame 24, @LSU 6
1997 (Independence Bowl) – LSU 27, Notre Dame 9
1998 – @Notre Dame 39, LSU 36

LSU had a fairly good year in 1997, going 9-3, but they had a miserable time with the Irish on a rainy November day (not night) at Tiger Stadium. They got revenge when the Irish came back to Louisiana, this time to Shreveport for the independence bowl. Neither game was close.

The bottom fell out for LSU in the next two years. Gerry DiNardo’s tenure, which had started with a 29-9-1 record, ended with a thud. The Tigers only won 3 of the last 18 games he coached.

There were a number of close losses to good teams in there though, and the Irish were one of them in 1998. LSU took a 34-20 lead with 8 minutes to go in the third quarter. The Irish responded by scoring late in the third, and then LSU had a chance to go back up by 14 in the fourth. On second down from the Notre dame 17, LSU’s Herb Tyler threw to the wrong team, and the Irish ran it all the way back. There was some hope when LSU blocked the extra point, but this didn’t matter when Notre Dame scored the go-ahead touchdown with just under 90 seconds to go in the game. When the Irish won by three points (after intentionally taking a safety), it was the fifth loss that season alone to a bowl-eligible team by less than a touchdown.

1984 – Notre Dame 30, @LSU 22
1985 – LSU 10, @Notre Dame 7
1986 – @LSU 21, Notre Dame 19

There were three competitive games in the mid-1980s. That may not have been the case in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the Tigers began their worst stretch in recent memory and the Irish were competing for national championships.

Following a three-game losing streak in 1984 (Bill arnsparger’s first year at LSU), Notre Dame went on the road to upset a 7th-ranked LSU team that would eventually go to the Sugar Bowl. The Irish would not lose again until the Aloha Bowl.

After a disastrous loss at home in the third game in 1985, LSU went undefeated the rest of the regular season. The week after Alabama, the Tigers had a close call against Mississippi St., but they still entered the game against the Irish at 6-1-1 and ranked #17 in the country. After starting a respectable 5-3, Notre Dame lost to Penn State (who would finish 11-1) the week before hosting LSU.

Notre Dame took the lead just over 5 minutes into the game but would not score again the rest of the way. Still, the Irish held onto a 7-3 lead until late in the fourth quarter. With about 7 minutes left, an LSU drive stalled just a few yards into Notre Dame territory. After a 38-yard punt, the Irish took over at the 6 and went nowhere. This defensive stand allowed LSU to pick up roughly where they had left off on offense.

On a third and one (after a 9-yard run by LSU QB Jeff Wickersham), LSU took a gamble with a throw to running back Dalton Hilliard (uncle of current LSU running back Kenny Hilliard), who went down the sidelines for an 18-yard gain. Wickersham made another throw of 21 yards to get LSU into scoring position. After two runs, LSU took the lead 10-7 with about 3:30 to play.

After Notre Dame drove 25 yards to their own 48, Irish quarterback Steve Beuerlein’s pass was tipped. The Tigers came up with it and were able to run out the clock.

LSU made the Liberty Bowl after that season, where they lost to Baylor.

The Tigers would have a similar record going into the 1986 game against Notre Dame, this time playing the Irish at home. LSU was ranked #8, and Notre Dame was again unranked and headed toward a 5-6 finish.

Another close game ensued. This time LSU was first on the board with a touchdown after about 5 minutes of play, but Notre Dame’s Tim Brown took the kickoff back 96 yards to tie the game. LSU took the lead back after an 82-yard drive of 8:47. There was no scoring again until Notre Dame closed to 14-10 with about 6 minutes left in the third quarter. That score took place after Notre Dame converted a 3rd and 14. LSU would have had a stop on that down when it was first tried, but an LSU facemask offset a Notre Dame clipping penalty.

On LSU’s next play from scrimmage, Tommy Hodson threw an interception, which was returned to the LSU 2. The Irish gained a yard on first down but went no further, and the ball went over on downs when Brown was tackled for a loss on fourth down. The following LSU drive was a three and out, and Notre Dame then drove to the LSU 13 with six running plays and only one pass. The Irish then went backwards but they converted a 44-yard field goal attempt to get within 1.

LSU used a mix of running and passing to drive 79 yards in 11 plays. The Tigers only faced one third down on the drive, a 3rd and 3 from the Notre Dame 28.

Notre Dame’s next drive ended in a turnover, but LSU did nothing with it. The LSU defense could do little to stop the Irish from driving down the field in just seven plays for a touchdown. They stopped the two-point conversion though, and the Irish did not get the ball again.

1981 – @Notre Dame 27, LSU 9

Two awful teams played in 1981. LSU would only win three games that season, which is probably best remembered for ending with a humiliating 48-7 defeat at the hands of Tulane. Notre dame would finish 5-6 but they probably looked good momentarily in a 27-9 win at home.

1970 – @Notre Dame 3, LSU 0
1971 – @LSU 28, Notre Dame 8

What first inspired the Irish and Tigers to square off was the end of the 1969 season. LSU had only one loss, by two points to Archie manning’s ole miss rebels, and was hoping for a Cotton Bowl invite to play undefeated Texas and had declined other howl opportunities. Notre Dame, which had declined all bowl invitations since 1924, decided at the last minute they wanted to play Texas instead. They lost 21-17.

Notre Dame would only lose to two schools in the next two seasons, USC and LSU. The Irish did beat LSU at home, 3-0, in 1970. After a scoreless struggle, LSU had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but their field goal attempt from the 17 was blocked. The Tigers kept Notre Dame from scoring on the next drive but were pinned at their own 1 afterward. Notre Dame then took over at the LSU 36. Interference was called on LSU on the first play from scrimmage, and Notre Dame drove 10 more yards before the winning field goal with only 2:54 to play.

LSU went 9-3 in both 1970 and 1971. In the 1970 bowl season, LSU lost to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, and Notre Dame got revenge over Texas in the Cotton.

In the 1971 game, LSU had lost to both Ole Miss and Alabama in the previous few weeks, so they took the opportunity to work out their frustrations in a 28-8 win. LSU was #14 AP and #18 in the coaches’ poll going into the game. Notre Dame, which had been #7 in both polls before the game, did not go to a bowl that year, while LSU beat Iowa St. in the Sun Bowl.

Prior entries:

Team List:
Alabama (Pregames: 2011, 2013)
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

Les Miles (and former LSU coaches) by the numbers

In College Football, General LSU on January 14, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Although obviously he inherited a good team in the wake of Nick Saban’s departure, Les Miles hasn’t coached for just one or two seasons. He has been the LSU head coach for 6 seasons now, fifth all-time. If he coaches through next season, he will be in a tie for third in that category. He’s not another Larry Coker (for example), who won 41 of his first 44 games at Miami (including all of his first 24 games) before going 19-12 in the next two-and-a-half seasons and being fired. Not that I thought Coker being fired was necessarily the right move, but I think the team was on a clear decline over that time, so I understood why he was fired.

There may have been some doubt about Les being different from Coker after his 13-9 stretch between October 2008 and January 2010, but with this year’s 11-win season that cannot in any way be traced to Saban (except for the program’s good will), I think now we can look at how he stacks up compared to past LSU coaches. But before I do that, I also wanted to note that, despite a disastrous run at the end of his tenure, Gerry DiNardo was 26-9-1 in his first three years at LSU (better than Saban’s 26-12 in his first three seasons) and recruited almost all of the players who led LSU to the SEC Championship in 2001. So Saban didn’t take over in a vacuum either, but he deserves a good bit of credit for what he did with the players who were there (as Miles does for the players who were there when he arrived).

I’m not just writing this because Miles stayed either.

Miles is #1 or #2 on all of these lists of accomplishments except for number of seasons coached, which makes this information all the more impressive, and number of wins (only because of the relative number of seasons coached).

Seasons
1 Charles McClendon 18
2 Bernie Moore 13
t3 Paul Dietzel 7
t3 Gus Tinsley 7
5 Les Miles 6*
t6 Mike Donahue 5
t6 Gerry DiNardo 5
t6 Nick Saban 5
*2011 would be Miles’ 7th

Wins
1 Charles McClendon 137
2 Bernie Moore 83
3 Les Miles 62
4 Nick Saban 48
5 Paul Dietzel 46
6 Gus Tinsley 35

Winning % (More than 20 games)
1 Les Miles 0.785
t2 Nick Saban 0.750
t2 Bill Arnsparger 0.750
4 Biff Jones 0.741
5 Charles McClendon 0.692

Bowl appearances
1 Charles McClendon 13
2 Les Miles 6
t3 Nick Saban 5
t3 Bernie Moore 5
t5 Gerry DiNardo 3
t5 Paul Dietzel 3
t5 Bill Arnsparger 3

Bowl wins
1 Charles McClendon 7
2 Les Miles 5
t3 Nick Saban 3
t3 Gerry DiNardo 3
5 Paul Dietzel 2
t6 Bernie Moore 1
t6 Bill Arnsparger 1

10+ win seasons
1 Les Miles* 4
t2 Nick Saban* 2
t2 Paul Dietzel* 2
t4 Gerry DiNardo 1
t4 Mike Archer 1
t4 Bill Arnsparger 1
t4 Edgar Wingard 1
*Miles has 4 of the 6 11+ win seasons. Dietzel and Saban have one each. These three coaches are the only ones to win major-poll national championships at LSU.

Top 25* finishes
1 Charles McClendon 10 (2 split)
2 Les Miles 5
t3 Nick Saban 4 (1 split)
t3 Bernie Moore^ 4
t5 Bill Arnsparger 3
t5 Paul Dietzel 3
t5 Gerry DiNardo 3 (1 split)
8 Mike Archer 2 (1 split)
9 Gus Tinsley^ 1
*AP poll became top 25 in 1989, UPI became top 25 in 1990. Most polls were top 20 before then, but AP only ranked 10 teams from 1962-67. AP began in 1936; UPI began in 1950, was succeeded by USAToday in 1991 (although some media reports an overlap), and has had various titles since. “Split” means that it was only in one of the two major polls.

^AP poll was the only relevant poll during these careers. These also apply to the top-10 list.

Top 10 finishes
1 Charles McClendon 7 (3 split)
2 Les Miles 4
t3 Paul Dietzel 3
t3 Bernie Moore^ 3
5 Nick Saban 2
t6 Gus Tinsley^ 1
t6 Mike Archer 1
t6 Bill Arnsparger 1 (split)

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

Rivalry Series: LSU vs. Auburn

In College Football, Rivalry on October 21, 2010 at 9:29 PM

(Alternate title, LSU/Auburn: Battle of the Nicknames)

Overall records (Now includes 2018)

LSU leads, 30-22-1
In Baton Rouge, LSU leads, 18-5-1
In the state of Alabama, Auburn leads, 17-12

      In Auburn, Auburn leads, 12-8
      In Birmingham, Auburn leads, 3-2
      In Mobile, Auburn leads, 2-0
      In Montgomery, LSU leads, 2-0

Longest winning/unbeaten streak–6 wins by LSU, 1926-1937

Longest Auburn winning streak–4 wins, 1989-1994

Home/away streaks
LSU won 3 in a row at Auburn, 1926-1936
Auburn won 2 in a row at LSU, 1997 & 1999
LSU won 8 in a row at home, 2001-present
Auburn won 4 in a row at home, 1981-1994 and 2000-2006

Longest streaks with only one loss (pure winning streaks excluded):
LSU, 6/7, 1969-1988 and 2007-2013
Auburn, 5/6, 1981-1994

Biggest wins:
LSU, 35, 45-10 in 2011
Auburn, 34, 41-7 in 1999 (@ LSU) and 2014 (at home)
LSU’s biggest win at Auburn was 20-6 in 1973. Their largest point total at Auburn was 31, in a 12-point win in 1998.

Biggest shutout wins:
LSU, 10, 1926 (in Montgomery)
Auburn, 7, 1912 and 1913 (both in Mobile)
(The lowest-scoring post-war game was a 7-3 home win for Auburn in 2006. There has not been a shutout in this series since 1935.)

Highest-scoring games:

@LSU : LSU 45, Auburn 21, 2015

@Auburn: Auburn 30, LSU 28, 1992

Highest scores by either team:
45, LSU in 2011 and 2015
41, Auburn in 1999 and 2014
35, LSU in 1972 and 2013
34, Auburn in 2000
31, LSU in 1998, 2003, and 2009; Auburn in 1997

2016 reaction blog

In 2011, LSU once again tied up Auburn in games since the start of the 1980 season, 12-12. It also tied the teams at 10 since the start of the 1992 season. (Both ties were of course broken by LSU’s win in 2012.) The 1999 Cigar Game (see below for more background) is no longer the record-holder in a couple of aspects, but it remains Auburn’s last win at LSU. It is one of only four Auburn wins at LSU ever. The first happened in 1939, but the last three all happened from 1993 to 1999. The one tie took place in 1941, and then Auburn did not return to LSU until 1969. It is also worth noting that LSU surpassed the 1999 Auburn point total in the first 38 minutes of the 2011 game.

Intro (written before 2010 game)

I called it the battle of nicknames, because they’re both nicknamed, in the simplest sense, “Tigers” but have other monikers. LSU added “Fighting” at some point to their nickname. Supposedly “war eagle” was always just a live mascot/battle cry and never a nickname, but people have called them War Eagles (I fail to see how that’s a bad thing, but far be it from me to judge other fans’ sensitivities). Auburn’s teams have also been referred to as the Plainsmen, and LSU’s teams have also been referred to as the Bayou Bengals, both in reference to the local geography. (Who said sports weren’t educational?) Many of the recent games have nicknames as well.

With the win last season, LSU became the first team to win three in a row in the series since Auburn won four in a row from 1989 to 1994 (obviously non-consecutive seasons…this corresponds to the six consecutive seasons in which LSU finished with a losing record). But even at that time, even though Auburn won 9 games or more in three of those seasons, three of those four games were still decided by 4 points or fewer.

Before 2008, the home team had won for 8 consecutive seasons. This was one reason LSU has never won the SEC West in an even year (which, since SEC expansion in 1992, are the only years that LSU has traveled to Auburn).

LSU’s 21-point win {in 2009} was the largest margin since LSU won 31-7 in 2003, but the 5 games from 2004 to 2008 were decided by a total of 19 points. That’s actually a deceptively high number since the whistle blew after LSU’s go-ahead touchdown in 2007 with only a second left, and LSU won by 6. Also, the games between the two teams are typically defensive struggles. In 1988, LSU won, 7-6. Since 1988, there have also been final scores of 10-6, 12-6, 19-15, 20-17, 10-9, and 7-3. There have only been 3 games since 1972 in which either team scored more than 31 points (all Auburn wins).

This may be quite a different game in light of Auburn’s SEC-record-breaking 65-43 win last week. On the other hand, LSU has played in four games (Vanderbilt, Mississippi St., WVU, and Tennessee) this season with a combined point total under 37. Auburn has played in one, a 17-14 win at Mississippi St.

The series is knotted up at 11 wins apiece since 1980 (inclusive), so I’ll say it could go either way. Both teams were also undefeated in 2008, 2006, 2004, and 2000, but none of those games were after September. Each team had one loss in 2005, the mutually best recent October match-up. Except for 2001 (only due to 9/11), 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2007, all of the games since 1992 (inclusive) had been in September.

The following is mostly copied and pasted from a post on TSN on October 17, 2007, so some references are to that time and not to the present…

The rivalry

(In the following, I’ve used “Fighting Tigers” to denote LSU.)

This is different from many of the other LSU series since I actually remember most of the significant games in the series. I think that has helped endear the rivalry to those my age (late 20s) and younger. When people start talking about Bear Bryant or John Vaught (prominent opposing coaches, neither of whom I remember, for rivals Alabama and Ole Miss, respectively), it doesn’t really register as well. LSU and Auburn only played 6 times between 1942 and 1988. Even though this became a yearly event in 1992 and Tulane left the SEC after the 1965 season, Auburn still played Tulane more times in the 20th century than it played LSU.

The flashpoint in the LSU/AU rivalry was the 1988 Earthquake Game, when an earthquake was actually recorded at LSU’s geology department after Tommy Hodson threw the winning touchdown to Eddie Fuller with less than two minutes left in the game. Likely contributing to the earthquake was the fact that the score was the Fighting Tigers’ only in the game, as LSU won 7-6.

Auburn had been ranked #4 in the country and LSU had lost consecutive games, at Ohio St. and at Florida, to fall out of the top 25. The two teams would be co-champions that year, and despite LSU having beaten Auburn, the Tigers went to the Sugar Bowl as a one-loss team. Auburn would lose in the Sugar Bowl to Florida St., and LSU would lose in the Hall of Fame Bowl (now known as the Outback Bowl) to Syracuse to finish with 4 losses. The Fighting Tigers’ only regular-season loss after the Auburn game was to #3 Miami.

The Earthquake Game had been the first meeting between LSU and Auburn in 7 years. It was only the 26th meeting between the two teams, and the first meeting had been in 1901. The two teams met in 1989 then didn’t meet again until 1992, when the SEC split into two divisions, mandating annual meetings between LSU and Auburn.

A long series of games with nicknames followed. They weren’t consecutive, but there are a lot of them.

Close games intensify rivalry

The 1989 and 1992 games did not merit any nicknames that I know of, but they were close as well, with Auburn winning 10-6 and 30-28, respectively. Auburn had hosted both games.

The 1993 meeting (the year of Terry Bowden’s undefeated probation season) does not have a nickname that I know of, but it was the first time Auburn had won @ LSU in 54 years. It also gave Auburn its first three-game winning streak over LSU since 1924. Auburn, of course, would finish undefeated but would not make a bowl game or join any serious national championship discussion because the Tigers were on probation.

The Disaster on the Plains

The 1994 game, the fourth game in the series after the Earthquake game, was hosted by #11 (AP) Auburn, who was still on probation so was unranked in the coaches’ poll, in the third week of the season.

LSU had not qualified for a bowl game since the year of the Earthquake Game but had scored a major victory over then-undefeated Alabama (see Alabama link below) the prior year on the way to finishing 5-6. After starting the previous season 2-5, LSU had won 4 of 6, one of the losses by only five against #15 Texas A&M to start the season.

When the Fighting Tigers beat a good Mississippi St. team (who would finish 8-4) by 20 in week 2, it seemed that LSU head coach Curley Hallman may have finally been turning the team around in his fourth season. Hallman was starting to be seen as the opposite of his predecessor Mike Archer, who was a good game manager but after his first two seasons seem to waste away the talent that had been recruited by Bill Arnsparger.

Seemingly maintaining this momentum, the Fighting Tigers led the 2-0 Tigers 23-9 with 12 minutes left in the game.

On second down, deep in his own territory, LSU quarterback Jamie Howard inexplicably threw the ball into triple coverage, and it was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. LSU got the ball back, and Howard did the same exact thing, but on third down this time. The game was now tied.

The Fighting Tigers responded though, driving down to the Auburn 5 before kicking a field goal. LSU would lead by 3 with 2:14 left in the game.

On third and short at the LSU 30, the Fighting Tigers should have run the ball again, followed by a punt if unsuccessful, to force the hapless Auburn offense into the two-minute drill, which probably would have resulted in no worse than a tie since the Tigers had not had an offensive touchdown all game.

But Howard threw to a crossing wide receiver, once again into triple coverage. That was tipped and a fourth defender caught it and ran for a touchdown as well. Auburn won 30-26.

Auburn fans call it The Comeback Game or The Interception Game. Auburn would finish the season 9-1-1, losing only to Alabama.

It was the third time in four meetings and fourth time in six meetings that the game was decided by 4 or fewer.

It was almost all downhill from there for Hallman, who was fired after LSU lost five of its next six–six of seven including the Auburn game–before relatively meaningless wins over Tulane and Arkansas to end the season. Hallman has not been a college head coach since and briefly (and unsuccessfully) coached a high-school team in Alabama.

More close games

In 1995, after only losing 1 game over the previous two seasons and starting 2-0 again, Auburn was ranked #5 in the AP poll (#6 in the coaches poll), and made a return trip to Baton Rouge to face its benefactor from the previous season, Jamie Howard. LSU had recently hired as head coach Vanderbilt’s Gerry DiNardo, whose most impressive record as head coach had been 5-6.

LSU had again lost to Texas A&M and had beaten Mississippi St.

The Auburn offense had a similar performance to the one in 1994, but their defense was held scoreless this time; the Fighting Tigers won, 12-6. Although that wasn’t exactly an impressive achievement for LSU’s offense, the redeemed Howard was carried off the field as a hero.

LSU would end that long bowl-less streak by beating Nick Saban’s Michigan St. Spartans in the Independence Bowl. Both Auburn and LSU would lose four games on the year.

The Night the Barn Burned

LSU also won the next year (1996) at Auburn, 19-15, on the way to a 10-2 record. During the game, an old gymnasium caught fire on the Auburn campus (this has been blamed on LSU fans, although I’ve never heard of any actual evidence substantiating this), and smoke could be seen from the stadium. This also happened to be LSU’s first win @ Auburn since 1973.

But Auburn took a road game back the next year, winning 31-28.

Back and forth

In the nine years beginning in 1998, LSU won 4 and Auburn won five.

1999 was the last game of the series under DiNardo, who, after beating Auburn on the way to a 3-0 start in 1998, would lose 15 of his last 18 games as head coach.

This didn’t stop Tommy Tuberville from lighting up a cigar after his Tigers’ 41-7 win in Baton Rouge, hence “The Cigar Game.” Auburn has not won a road game in the series since.

In fact, every game in the series since then {no longer true} has been won by the home team. Of possible interest to those other Tiger fans, Auburn was 3-2 against Saban with all three wins coming at home.

Auburn won by 17 in 2000, followed by a 13-point loss in 2001, which, due to Sept. 11, had been postponed to December and acted as a playoff for LSU’s first SEC West Championship. LSU started only 4-3, so the timing may have affected the outcome. In 2001, LSU won its first outright SEC Championship since 1986 and its first Sugar Bowl since the 1967 season. LSU has won 2 Sugar Bowls, 2 SEC West titles {now 3}, and once SEC title {now 2} since.

The two teams then exchanged 31-7 victories, the second of course by LSU on the way to the Fighting Tigers’ first national championship since 1958.

2004 – The Extra Point Game

This set up quite a meeting in 2004, as LSU was ranked #4 and #5 (AP) and visited #13 Auburn, who had gone through a tumultuous off-season that had almost ended Tommy Tuberville’s employment on the Plains.

After an impressive opening drive and a missed extra point, the Fighting Tigers led only 9-3 at halftime. That score stood until Auburn got the ball with about 8 minutes to play. LSU at one point forced Auburn into a 4th and 12 from LSU’s 28-yard line.

Not only did Courtney Taylor catch Jason Campbell’s pass for a first down on that play, but he also later caught his first touchdown pass with 1:14 to play, also on fourth down.

In what seemed apropos, John Vaughn then missed the extra point after a low snap.

Vaughn got another chance though, as Ronnie Prude was whistled for doing something (I still don’t quite understand this rule or why it applied) that involved trying to use another player for support in an effort to block the kick when actually he hit the player coming down from a jump.

Even if it was the correct call, I think it should be like the opposite of roughing the punter. If he successfully blocks the kick, then make it a penalty. If not, why call a penalty? Because he could have hurt himself? So what? It’s football. That seems to be how it’s called in practice—I’ve only seen it called twice at the most since then—but I think it was a rule modification and therefore fresh in the official’s minds. Nick Saban was on the rules committee and claimed not to understand the rule himself.

This game is now known as the “Extra-Point Game.” The winning points are shown on YouTube.

You could probably guess that Vaughn’s second try sailed through and Auburn held on for a 10-9 win. That game and the 8-point win over Alabama were the Tigers’ only games decided by fewer than 18 during the regular season that year. Saban’s last LSU team would finish 9-3 after a hail-mary loss to Iowa in the CapitalOne Bowl.

2005 – The Field Goal Game

Maybe it was bad juju from 2004, but Vaughn (same guy) missed field goals from 41, 54, 37, and 49 yards during regulation. He did make one from 26 yards and converted both extra points attempted without any drama. LSU’s two kickers were 1 for 2 in regulation.

Vaughn missed the 49-yarder in the waning seconds of regulation, after LSU had tied it with about 90 seconds left in the game, sending the contest into overtime.

Chris Jackson redeemed himself from a 38-yard miss with a 30-yard successful attempt for his only field goal of the game (Colt David, LSU’s primary kicker {in 2007}, had kicked the first from 44 yards). Auburn, unlike LSU, could not pick up the initial first down when it got the ball. Ronnie Prude (same guy who was flagged for the penalty on the try in 2004) broke up Brandon Cox’s third-and-long throw to Anthony Mix, who had caught Auburn’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Vaughn’s 40-yard attempt at the tie hit the left side of the upright, putting him at 1 for 6 for the game and ending the game.

LSU won despite being out-gained by 112 yards and only converting 4 third downs to Auburn’s 8.

2006

The game is known as Ref Gate–you know which side calls it that since the official final score was 7-3 Auburn. It’s also called “The Play,” and I think I’ve also seen it called “The Call,” since the most pivotal referee decision was to pick up a flag that had been thrown for pass interference. But there were a number of important calls that went against LSU. Also, the Mad Hatter may have played a role in this one (although Jimbo Fisher was the offensive coordinator, and I think Miles deferred more to him at the time), as LSU had many potential field-goal chances that the Fighting Tigers bypassed in an effort to get in the end zone. I don’t want to post the video of calls again, but it can easily be found on Youtube.

Auburn won despite being out-gained 311-182.

More series facts from the 2007 blog

Auburn has not led in the series since it lost in 1934.

The only Auburn opponents that the Plainsmen have played 10 times or more and have a worse winning percentage against are Alabama and, wait for it…

Tulane. It is a compliment to only have losing records against three teams that you’ve played that many times, but I wasn’t expecting one of them to be Tulane. Also in Auburn’s defense, they’ve only played the Green Wave once since playing them every year from 1921-1955.

The largest margin of victory in the series was 34 in the 1999 Cigar Game, surpassing the previous record of 28 (Auburn had won by 28 in 1901, and LSU had won by 28 in 1972). The 31-7 contests are in a 3-way tie with Auburn’s 34-10 win in 1993.

Right now (2010), LSU has won 3 in a row and 8 of the last 11 contests in Baton Rouge, the first of the group being in 1969.

Last year was only the second time in 6 years that the winner of the LSU/Auburn game did not win the SEC West. Along with LSU’s co-championship in 1988, Auburn of course finished with the best record in the SEC in 1993 but was not eligible for the SEC Championship.

Auburn is only LSU’s 10th most-common opponent, and LSU is Auburn’s 8th most-common opponent, but Auburn appears in the list of the top 15 Tiger Stadium crowds three times, for each of the last three games there. Arkansas and Florida, with 2 each, are the only other teams on that list more than once.

The two teams have also done a good job filling Jordan-Hare stadium recently. According to the Auburn CSTV website (I’m not sure when it was last updated, I assume after the 2004 season), the Extra-Point Game was tied for first with only two other contests (Georgia and Arkansas in 2004). LSU also appeared in the top 15 for the 2000 contest won by Auburn, 34-17. LSU’s two appearances were tied for second with Alabama, among others.

The other blogs in this series can be accessed through the LSU Rivalry Series tab above.

Post-2014 Additional info

LSU lost by an identical score when the Fighting Tigers started 0-7 in conference before Gerry DiNardo was relieved of his duties (leading to the hiring of Nick Saban in the following offseason).  LSU won by 35 in 2011, so that’s still the biggest win in the series by either team.  This is the fifth time Auburn has beaten LSU by more than 20 (49 games dating back to 1901), but it is only the third time since 1938.  The closest of the three was by 24 in 1993.

LSU did have five losses of 28 or more since then, but only once was under Les Miles.  They were Florida 2000, Florida 2001, Alabama 2002, Georgia 2004, and Florida 2008.

Since the SEC expanded to 12 teams in 1992, LSU has traveled to both Auburn and Florida in every even year.  LSU has never won both games and not coincidentally has never won the SEC West in an even year, so this pretty much assures it won’t happen this year either. This pattern momentarily changed when LSU and Florida traded home games in 2016 and 2017. This allowed LSU to win a road game against Florida in the same year they beat Auburn for the first time since 1980.

I didn’t realize this going into the 2017 game, but this was actually the first competitive LSU-Auburn game in Tiger Stadium since 2007. That was when LSU only needed a field goal to win, but Matt Flynn threw a touchdown to Demetrius Byrd that was caught with about 3 seconds left (although the ensuing kickoff was with 1 second left). Appropriately enough, the 2007 team was in attendance on Saturday. The 2007 game came two years after an overtime win by LSU which resulted from multiple missed field goals by Auburn.

It was nice to get another close win against Auburn in light of the 4-point loss in 1994 (the disaster on the plains), the 1-point loss in 2004 (the extra point game), the 4-point loss in 2006 (Refgate), the 7-point loss in 2010 (I don’t think it had a nickname; it was just a good close game on the way to Auburn’s national championship), and the 5-point loss last season (I guess we can call it the final nail in the Miles coffin game). The other games mentioned in this paragraph were all at Auburn, where LSU has only won twice since 1998.

Rivalry Series: LSU vs. Florida

In College Football, General LSU, History, Rivalry on October 14, 2010 at 10:50 PM

NOTE: The 2016 LSU-Florida game has been postponed to November. This will be the first game in the series outside of the month of October since 1984 and the first in November since 1972. The two teams tied in both 1972 and 1984,

Overall records (edited after the 2016 game)
Florida leads, 33-29-3
In Baton Rouge, Florida leads, 17-16
In Gainesville, Florida leads, 16-13-3

Longest winning streak–Florida, 9 wins, 1988-1996
Longest LSU winning streak–4 wins, 1977-1980

Home/away streaks
Florida won 4 in a row at LSU, 1989-1995
LSU won 3 in a row at Florida, 1959-1963 (will try to tie next year)
Florida won 7 in a row at home, 1988-2000
LSU won 3 in a row at home, 1937-1954 (the middle game was played in 1941) and 2011-2015

Longest streaks with only one loss:
Florida, 13/14, 1988-2001
LSU, 5/6, 1958-1963, 1977-1982, and 2010-2015

Biggest wins:
Florida, 55, 58-3 in 1993 (@ LSU)
LSU, 41, 48-7 in 1971

Biggest shutout wins:
LSU, 23, in both 1961 (@Florida) and 1962
Florida, 20, 1985 (@ LSU)

Highest point totals
:
1. Florida, 58, 1993*
2. Florida, 56, 1996*
3. Florida, 51, 2008
4. LSU, 48, 1971
5. Florida, 44, 2001*
6. Florida, 42, 1994*
t7. Florida, 41, 2000*
t7. LSU, 41, 2011
9. LSU, 37, 1967
10. LSU, 36, 1977 and 2002

*=during Steve Spurrier’s tenure

Recent games (since 2004)

10/06/2017 LSU @ Florida L 19 27
10/14/2017 LSU (9-4) @ Florida (4-7) W 17 16
11/19/2016 LSU (8-4) vs. Florida (9-4) L 10 16
10/17/2015 LSU (9-3) vs. Florida (10-4) W 35 28
10/11/2014 LSU (8-5) @ Florida (7-5) W 30 27
10/12/2013 LSU (10-3) vs. Florida (4-8) W 17 6
10/06/2012 LSU (10-3) @ Florida (11-2) L 6 14
10/08/2011 LSU (13-1) vs. Florida (7-6) W 41 11
10/09/2010 LSU (11-2) @ Florida (8-5) W 33 29
10/10/2009 LSU (9-4) vs. Florida (13-1) L 3 13
10/11/2008 LSU (8-5) @ Florida (13-1) L 21 51
10/06/2007 LSU (12-2) vs. Florida (9-4) W 28 24
10/07/2006 LSU (11-2) @ Florida (13-1) L 10 23
10/15/2005 LSU (11-2) vs. Florida (9-3) W 21 17
10/9/2004 LSU (9-3) @ Florida (7-5) W 24 21

The italicized games were all decided by one possession.  The records above are final records for the season.

2011 to present (for more in-depth details from 2004 to 2014, see here)

LSU ran over almost everyone in the 2011 season on the way to an SEC title before losing a rematch in the BCS Championship to Alabama.  Florida was no exception, as LSU won, 41-11.

In 2012, with LSU struggling to break in a new quarterback (Georgia transfer Zach Mettenberger), Florida won 14-6 on the way to an 11-1 regular season.

LSU was strong in 2013 despite the eventual three losses (all in close games to teams that were very good at the time), but Florida only had four wins that year.  LSU won a fairly uneventful contest, 17-6.  Florida had been ranked going into the game but would not win another game all season.

LSU won close games in both 2014 and 2015.  Both games were tied late in the game.  In 2014, it appeared the Gators may be driving for the winning points, but LSU came up with an interception before hitting a long field goal to win.  This was slightly surprising given that the same kicker had missed an extra point earlier in the game.

In 2015, Florida tied the game on a 72-yard punt return with just over 1 minute left in the third quarter.  With 10:40 left in the game, LSU got into field goal position.  Even though it was a fourth and long, it wasn’t exactly shocking to see the kicker run around the end and catch a pass from the holder.  Unlike Josh Jasper in 2010, Trent Domingue made it all the way to the end zone.  Florida made it to midfield a couple of times, but one drive ended after an incompletion on fourth and 10 and the other ended when the clock ran out and Florida QB Treon Harris threw the ball out bounds.

This is only the second time LSU won three home games in a row against the Gators.  The previous time it was three games spread out over 18 seasons.  This was also the third time and first since 1982 that LSU has won five times in six contests against the Gators.  Also, since 2007, LSU is 12 for 16 on fourth downs against the Gators with at least four successful fakes, three of them fake field goals.  LSU has converted its last six fourth-down-conversion attempts against Florida.

In 2016, it was Florida stopping LSU on fourth down, avoiding what would have been a 17-16 LSU win in Baton Rouge.

That happened to be the exact final score in Gainesville in 2017.

This was the first year since 1980 in which LSU beat Auburn and Florida with at least one of those wins coming on the road. Just like this year, there were also wins at Florida and at home against Auburn that season. That year was the last of four consecutive LSU wins against Florida, which has not been repeated since then. LSU has won 6 of 8 against the Gators and 3 of the last 4 in Gainesville though. All three of those wins in Gainesville were decided in the final moments, and this was the ninth LSU-Florida game since (and including) 2004 that was decided by one possession.

Before the loss to LSU, Florida had won 14 of 15 home games and 10 of the last 11 decided by 8 points or fewer (with the previous close loss coming to LSU in 2015). Now both LSU and Texas A&M have won close games in the Swamp (by 1 and 2 points respectively) in consecutive weeks. The Gators’ remaining home games this season are against UAB and Florida St.

New narrative, 2002-2010

The original TSN post is below after the date it was written (10/2/07), but it was written before one of the best games in the series, at least in my recollection. 2007 was not the game that made Urban Meyer cry (see below for 2005), but it was Urban’s next visit to Tiger Stadium. I meant it was the best because of the play, not because of how it seemed to affect the Florida coach. I think even Florida fans would be hard-pressed to say the 2007 game wasn’t an incredible display of college football. I’ll get to the details below.

Actually, I’ll go back to 2002 since that’s the year this became a competitive rivalry again after Florida had won 13 of 14 before that. The series did not turn around with LSU’s hiring of Nick Saban but with Steve Spurrier’s departure from Florida. LSU did win the SEC in 2001, but only after a 44-15 loss to the Gators, which followed a 41-9 loss in Saban’s first year. I’ll give the ESPN links for the game recaps.

In 2002, LSU essentially was two different teams. One rebounded from an opening loss in Blacksburg to put together a 6-game winning streak, during which they looked much like the team that ended 2001 with a separate 6-game winning streak on the way to LSU’s first undisputed SEC title since 1986 (and first of any nature since 1988). That is the team that played Florida in Gainesville and won easily, the first win @ Florida since 1986 (no, that’s not deja vu or a copying error). (See below for the historic significance of the margin of victory.) The other LSU team is what we ended up with after Matt Mauck (who would be the hero of the 2003 season) fell to injury and Marcus Randall took over, although the downward spiral wasn’t entirely the fault of that one position of course. The Tigers would finish the season with 4 losses in 6 games, including a 1-point loss in the regular-season finale against Arkansas that kept them from returning to the SEC Championship game. Florida would finish with the exact same record of 8-5.

Florida (3-3 going into the game) wasn’t intimidated in their return trip to Baton Rouge, where they had won 6 out of 7, to face the 5-0 Tigers. Despite impressive numbers against weaker teams, 2003‘s offense had shown some weakness against Georgia three weeks before. Florida’s defense apparently came out with something to prove after giving up 36 points to the Tigers in Gainesville the season before and Florida won, 19-7. LSU would get the last laugh, as they finished 13-1 with a BCS title and Florida once again finished 8-5. On the other hand, it is still annoying to LSU fans that we’re supposed to “share” the national title with USC, and that is largely Florida’s fault.

In 2004, Florida had started 3-1 with a 2-point loss to Tennessee as the only blemish. LSU already had two losses and would have had three were it not for several missed extra points by Oregon St. kicker Alexis Serna. LSU’s first two road trips were a last-minute one-point loss to Auburn and a 45-16 thrashing at the hands of Georgia the week before (tied for the third-worst loss of the Nick Saban era…two of those top four were losses to Steve Spurrier’s Gators). I don’t recall the spread, but it could not have been surprising that Florida got out to a 14-0 lead. LSU outscored them the rest of the way, however, 24-7. Consecutive home losses to LSU for the first time since 1980 and 1982 were probably not the reason, but LSU broke the tie against Ron Zook, and the record has remained 2-1 ever since. This time LSU would finish the regular season on a 6-game winning streak before giving up a hail mary to lose to Iowa in the bowl game, in Nick Saban’s final game. Florida once again finished with 5 losses (can’t do that three years in a row in Gainesville).

Since then, it has been Urban Meyer vs. Les Miles and surprisingly to some, the two are now dead even.

I mentioned that despite Urban Meyer’s tears (maybe because he lost to Les Miles, come to think of it), 2005 wasn’t as good as 2007 would be. Meyer refused to answer a question about Miles in the post-game press conference this year, by the way. Interestingly enough, Florida was LSU’s first home win in 2005, despite it coming on Oct. 8. LSU had their regularly scheduled opener postponed, their next scheduled home game against Arizona St. was moved to Tempe, and the Tigers lost a heart-breaker to Tennessee before road games against Mississippi St. and Vanderbilt. LSU was more sloppy that year, and the Florida game was decided based on mistakes rather than great plays. LSU turned the ball over 5 times, suffered 5 sacks, and was penalized 11 times in the win. This came after 4 turnovers and 14 penalties in the prior game against Vanderbilt. This time, LSU got out to a 14-point first-quarter lead before falling behind. The Tigers won with the only fourth-quarter points, a touchdown with about 12:30 left. Until the final Florida drive ended due to the clock running out, every other drive from then on ended with a punt.

I don’t know if it was Katrina or Les Miles’ first season or just the leadership that we had on the team, but that team was like a derailed train at times. It was really fast and could run you over, but it could also crash and burn at a moment’s notice. Although LSU finished 11-2 that year, LSU nearly lost to Arizona St. before a second-half comeback, it blew a 21-0 halftime lead over Tennessee to lose in overtime, and it was also lucky to escape with a win over Auburn in overtime (as it was lucky to beat Florida). In the second loss, LSU just ran out of steam and got destroyed by Georgia in the SEC Championship game. It didn’t help matters that the Tigers already knew the national championship was out of reach. In other games that year, LSU beat Alabama by 3 in overtime and Arkansas by 2. LSU was certainly ready for Miami in the Peach Bowl, which they would win, 40-3. Combined with losses to Alabama and South Carolina, the Gators’ win over Georgia in their next game was not enough to give Florida the East title, but the Gators won the Outback Bowl to finish 9-3.

In the 2006 game, the sloppiness continued for LSU, but this time Florida took advantage. LSU turned the ball over 5 times. LSU took a 7-0 lead after a 9-play, 73-yard drive, but then gave the ball to Florida with a fumbled punt return that led to a tying touchdown for the Gators. The Tigers then had the ball on the Florida 2 with a chance to take the lead again, but JaMarcus Russell fumbled. Florida would instead take the lead in the waning seconds of the first half. Then, LSU fumbled the second half kickoff for a safety, giving Florida a 9-point lead. Tim Tebow had a good game, but that one was lost by LSU five times as much as it was won by Florida. Florida would win the national championship over Ohio St., and LSU didn’t do too poorly for the season either, finishing 11-2 after winning the Sugar Bowl over Notre Dame.

2007 was won simply by virtue of Les Miles’ refusals to send out the punting team and Jacob Hester’s refusals to go down. This might sound vaguely familiar…After taking some chances, LSU scored a touchdown on its final drive, beating Florida by 4 to go 6-0 for the season. Good thing LSU isn’t traveling to Lexington next week. The earlier parts of the game went a little bit differently. Florida had three separate 10-point leads before a combination of ball control and defense kept the Gators scoreless for the fourth quarter. LSU had two fourth-down conversions on the final drive alone and was 5-5 on fourth downs for the game. Not coincidentally, LSU had a time of possession of almost 36 minutes and Florida had the ball for less than three minutes in the fourth quarter. LSU’s final drive was 15 plays for 60 yards and took up 8:11. LSU only led for the final 70 seconds of the game, and the only tie had been at 0-0. LSU would become the first team in recent memory to be the consensus national champions with two losses, 12-2. Florida, which had entered the game with a 4-1 record, would finish 9-4.

I’m going to be a bit lazy and forego reliving 2008 and 2009 except for a condensed version of events. In 2008, Florida got out to a 20-0 lead. LSU rallied to get back to within 6, but two quick touchdowns for the Gators followed. It was officially over on the first play in the fourth quarter, LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee threw a touchdown to the wrong team to give Florida a 41-14 lead. With an LSU touchdown instead it would have been at least conceivable for LSU to complete a comeback, but our defense just couldn’t keep up quite well enough. Florida would win the national championship while LSU would finish 8-5. Last year, it (obviously) was more of a defensive struggle, 13-3. It was every bit as week an offensive performance by LSU as the score indicated. LSU had under 100 passing yards and under 70 rushing yards. The Tigers had nine penalties and were 1-9 on third downs. It’s truly amazing that the defense was able to hold Florida to 13 with such little assistance. The Gators dealt LSU its first loss for the second consecutive season and for the third time in 7 seasons. Florida of course lost the SEC title rematch with Alabama for their only loss of the season before winning the Sugar Bowl over Cincinnati. LSU finished 9-4 after a CapitalOne Bowl loss to Penn St.

Finally, that takes us to 2014. With the win, LSU became the only team to have beaten Florida on the road three times since 2002 (inclusive). Ole Miss is the only other team to have done it twice in that time period. I’m almost certain Florida is the only team to have won at LSU twice in that same time period. Anyway, this year wasn’t like 2007 where LSU was battling from behind the whole night or 2005 where Florida’s ineptness on offense saved LSU’s mistakes from hurting them. This was the best LSU looked as compared to Florida (again, they both played great in 2007, but LSU didn’t look much better if better at all) since 2002 despite the close score. The Tigers outgained the Gators, 385-243. There were similarities to 2007 in that LSU converted two fourth downs (including the crazy fake field goal) and had the ball for almost 10 minutes longer than Florida did. Also, the 2007 game and just now were the only instances of a second consecutive loss by Florida under Urban Meyer.

Florida had kept it close by taking over (and then scoring touchdowns) at the LSU 17 twice, once after an interception and once after a punt. Both gave the Gators 4-point early leads. LSU also had what should have been a safety canceled due to an incidental facemask on the tackle before either of those touchdown drives. It was very reminiscent of 2006 except despite all of that, LSU still led by 6 at the half. I’ll give credit to Andre Debose for his return that brought the Gators to within 5, but still, it was set up by a short kick and all but a few Tigers ran past him before they seemed to realize it had been a short kick. So LSU could have easily ended up winning in a blowout, but like I told one of my blogging colleagues, I’ll take a win at Florida however they can get it, especially when throughout the 1990s, that seemed like a complete impossibility.

2005, 2007, and 2010 (LSU’s last three wins in the series) were each by exactly 4 points. Five of LSU’s last 7 wins in the series were by four points or fewer (including 3-point wins in 1987 and 2004). LSU won by 7 in 1997 and by 29 in 2002. The 2002 win was LSU’s biggest since 1971, which was the first of 40 consecutive seasons in which this series has been played now. 2002 was also the only times since 1980 that LSU even won by two touchdowns or more.’

LSU has never dealt Florida its only loss. The Gators finished 13-1 in three of the last four seasons and beat LSU every time. But aside from those, LSU has won 4 in a row.

Original SportingNews blog


Oct 02, 2007 04:18 AM

As I mentioned in that rankings blog, this is LSU’s first AP #1 appearance since 1959, and when they relinquished #1 that November, it was because the Tigers had suffered their first loss after 19 consecutive wins.

LSU has won 7 SEC games in a row, 8 SEC home games in a row, and 16 home games in a row overall. The Tigers also have the nation’s second-longest winning streak at 12 games. The last loss? Florida.

Since losing to Ron Zook’s Florida Gators in LSU’s national championship year of 2003, LSU has won 14 of 15 SEC home games and 26 of 27 home games overall. The one loss was the Monday night game against Tennessee in overtime shortly after Hurricane Rita left the area in 2005.

Recent history of LSU and the rivalry

I have a couple of TSN friends (if not more) who are in high school, and people that age—or people that don’t remember the late ’80s and early ’90s in college football for whatever reason—don’t realize just how low the LSU program had gotten and that it was a very difficult process over 9 seasons that eventually led to a national championship in 2003, an event still dismissed by USC fans as charity (a couple tangents are below).

Where did LSU come from?

I know this is a compliment in a way, but I actually see people who list LSU as their least-favorite team. Usually least favorites are teams with a significant resume of dominance—USC (slowed down in the ’90s but still were usually a bowl team, had won a national championship almost 20 years more recently than LSU had before 2003), Alabama (claims 13 national championships; although a few are sketchy at best, that’s still impressive), Florida (LSU wasn’t the only SEC they dominated from the late ’80s until the Ron Zook era), Notre Dame (0-5 doesn’t erase being the one of the most successful and storied programs in college football), Michigan (not far behind N.D.), etc.

My point is that I can’t imagine that, for all teams you can choose to be the #1 team you want to lose, you’re going to target a program with 8 losing seasons of the last 18? LSU finished with 4 or fewer wins four times from 1992-1999, with a fifth in 1989.

Anyway, I thought reclaiming the #1 spot before this game was interesting, and you’ll see why in a minute. Where did LSU come from? After six consecutive losing seasons, LSU hired former Notre Dame player and then-Vanderbilt head coach Gerry DiNardo, who had more than doubled Vandy’s average number of wins per season. His recruiting wouldn’t quite take, but he was hired for his ability to get the most out of a small talent pool. He managed 16 SEC wins in 3 years when the Tigers had had only 14 in those six losing seasons combined.

Background for 1997 game

After an “only” 18-point loss to #3 Florida in 1995, a match-up between undefeateds in 1996—#12 LSU @ #1 Florida—was picked up by CBS. LSU had already gone on the road to knock off #14 Auburn, whom they had beaten the year before when Auburn was ranked #5, which had garnered LSU its first national ranking since early starting 0-2 in 1989. Not only would Florida defeat LSU for the 9th consecutive season, but they humiliated the Tigers, 56-13. It was the second time in 4 years Florida had beaten LSU by over 40 (the first, a 58-3 loss at Tiger Stadium in 1993 which ESPN actually apologized for broadcasting) and third time in four years the Gators won by more than 3 touchdowns.

LSU would finish the 1996 season 10-2, the only other loss a continuation of an Alabama undefeated streak in Baton Rouge that would be 30 years old before it ended. Florida, of course, finished with 1 loss, @ Florida St. by a field goal, before winning the national championship that year.

In preseason 1997, the Gators held onto #1, and LSU actually got its first top-10 ranking that pre-season since its loss @ Ohio St. in week 4 of the 1988 season.]

Florida rolled into the LSU game in early October still undefeated, and after a 3-point loss to Auburn and 1-point win against Vanderbilt, the Tigers had slipped to #14, lower than they had been the year before. But, not wanting to pass up on a chance to have the #1 team on its airwaves, ESPN decided to give the Florida-LSU series another shot. They wouldn’t regret it, as the Tigers won, 28-21.

See the connection? Loss to Auburn by 3 at home…#1 team in the country…LSU-Florida…upset.

At least the #1 team is at home this time, and the other team isn’t trying to get revenge for the year before, or for the nine years before for that matter.

And if this game needed an extra boost (not likely), it will be the debut of Mike VI, LSU’s new live tiger mascot. A Mike the Tiger has intimidated visiting football teams since 1936, almost the entire history of LSU’s membership in the SEC. Terry Bowden commented that on his first visit to Tiger Stadium, he was given a rude welcome by Mike V and was reminded why coaches wear dark pants.

Urban Meyer wouldn’t have provided as many meals, and Mike V was in his old age (3 days shy of his 16th birthday), so Meyer didn’t mention anything about the tiger, but Urban’s first visit to Tiger Stadium, a 21-17 loss two years ago, caused him to weep openly after the game.

The all-time series

(See above for updated overall records)

Since going 1-13 against Florida from 1988 to 2001 (including 1-11 against Spurrier, see the link to the South Carolina series below), LSU has won 3 of 5 in the series, but only one of the three (Urban Meyer’s first visit, mentioned above) was in Baton Rouge.

The only other times that a 3-2 record occurred for either team were between 1954 and 1961. There were two windows of time that the teams were 2-2-1 over five years, 1980-84 and 1982-86. But even those years can also be viewed as parts of various streaks.

LSU went 3-0-1 in the first four games between the programs, which took place between 1937 and 1954. Since then, there has only been one gap in the rivalry, from 1968 to 1970.

Florida responded with a 3-0 streak to tie but would not take the lead until after one-time LSU head coach Bill Arnsparger hired Steve Spurrier at Florida, where Arnsparger had become the AD.

LSU then won 5 of 6, the first game of that group was in LSU’s championship season in 1958, which earned LSU its first of those 19 straight weeks on top, and in the second LSU was ranked #1. So LSU is 1-0 against Florida with LSU as #1, but this is the first time LSU was ranked #1 while hosting the Gators.

Florida and LSU then repeated the first 7 games, but in reverse: Florida went 3-0 followed by LSU going 3-0-1 from 1967-73.

Florida responded with yet another 3-0 streak. LSU then won 4 in a row. Florida went 3-1-1 over the next five years, from 1981-85. After the Tigers won the next two in a row, they didn’t win again until 1997.

1977-1987 was the best long-term LSU run, 7-3-1, which included 4-0-1 at Florida. The second-best was 8-4-1 to start the series, from 1937 to 1963.

LSU has not won 4 of 6 against the Gators since it won 5 of 6 from 1977-82.

Florida is LSU’s seventh most-common opponent. While the LSU-Kentucky series (which I’ll get to next) takes its next break, the Gators will move up to fifth, as Florida is only one behind Kentucky and Rice, who will be tied for fifth after this year, and LSU has no plans to renew its rivalry with Rice.

This will be the 37th consecutive season that LSU has played Florida, the sixth-longest streak overall for LSU and fourth-longest active streak after Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Alabama. Tulane and Kentucky are the longer streaks that have ended.

Other installments of the LSU rivalry series:
(Obsolete; see here instead)

Approval Rating: 100% (out of 8 reviews).