theknightswhosay

Posts Tagged ‘Tulane’

Possible LSU-Florida Resolutions

In College Football, General LSU on October 12, 2016 at 6:45 PM

This is a little bit long. Feel free to browse the headings. SEC Wednesday will be posted tomorrow or possibly Friday and possibly in conjunction with other previews.

First I wanted to mention the passing of Mike VI. His last day outside (meaning outside of his den, not outside of his enclosure) was Saturday. At least there wasn’t much time between him being a seemingly normal happy tiger and the end. Saturday Down South had a nice spread about him as well.

Even though Mike VI didn’t seem to enjoy the stadium much, it will still be sad to have a home game on Saturday without him. He and Mike III (1958-76) both enjoyed national championships in their first football seasons, so maybe whoever Mike VII is will be a good luck charm in his first year as well. Weird that within just a few months, LSU had to get a new head coach, a new Voice of the Tigers, and now a new tiger. Too much change for my tastes.

Les Miles visiting with Mike VI in a picture Miles posted on Twitter in May.

Les Miles visiting with Mike VI in a picture Miles posted on Twitter in May.

I also want to express condolences and/or best wishes for those truly affected by Hurricane Matthew, before I start criticizing.

Background: It was NOT necessary to postpone the game to another weekend.

SB Nation writes: “Nine Floridians died in Hurricane Matthew. The direness of the forecast, combined with Florida’s potential loss of home game revenue, should trump any conspiracy theories about the Gators postponing the game because they’re scared of losing and falling in the standings. (Yes, those theories exist.)”

It’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s the only reasonable explanation the game didn’t get played like the other relevant games. Florida had an insurance policy for the game. I don’t think they lost very much if anything. How much would they gain by playing in the SEC Championship game and potentially a CFP bowl? There was never a “dire” forecast for Gainesville. I don’t know if they think Florida is the size of Connecticut or what.

This was the cone (the area of potential travel) for the hurricane at approximately the time the decision was made on Thursday.

This was the cone (the area of potential travel) for the hurricane at approximately the time the decision was made on Thursday.

How many deaths were there in Gainesville? How many were there in Tampa, where a game was played Saturday? How many were there in Miami Gardens, where a game was played Saturday? How many in Boca Raton, where a game was played Sunday? How many in Columbia, SC, where a game was played Sunday (under what appeared to be partly cloudy skies)? Even if someone did die in one of those places, they didn’t die because a game was going to be put on the next day. People die every day.

The implication that if you played the game Saturday, Sunday, or Monday lives would have been put at risk in a meaningful way is silly. If that is the case, why did all these other schools risk death?

A few thousand in the Gainesville area lost power and there was a light drizzle at some point. In other words, an unremarkable day in the Deep South. If my power were out, I’d be more likely to want to go to a game in my town personally. How is it that the risk to life and limb was so high in Gainesville but not in places that were both closer to the storm and closer to the Atlantic? There could have been a major tempest in Gainesville, and how would that have prevented playing the game on Sunday or Monday?

There was a game scheduled for Orlando (Tulane @ UCF) that was moved to another week, but it happened to be a mutual bye week for the two teams involved. I’m not sure they wouldn’t have played it had that convenient option not been available.

Location of major games and the approximate path of the hurricane.

Location of major games and the approximate path of the hurricane.

The only reasonable conclusion to reach is that Florida didn’t want to play the game. They had major injuries on defense, the starting QB was coming off an injury, and they didn’t want to play LSU and get banged up some more. Also, they got to watch Tennessee lose, and if the Vols lose next week (against Alabama), Florida will be poised to win the East by half a game. There are just too many coincidences for anything else to make sense.

If there were genuine concern about playing it in Gainesville, they should have expressed a willingness to move the game. Instead they delayed and delayed a final announcement until late in the day on Thursday. Before that announcement, they insisted the game would be in Gainesville on Saturday as scheduled.

Baton Rouge was also available.

LSU was available to play the game either at home or away any time (within reason) on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, with or without hotel rooms. LSU also offered to pay the Gators’ travel expenses and provide hotel space had they chosen to play in Baton Rouge.

I get not wanting to play a road game (not that I buy the idea that there was any reason not to play the game in Gainesville on Sunday), but I would imagine at least a few Florida fans would have made the trip. The campuses are about 8 hours apart by car if one obeys the speed limit, but there are a lot of Florida fans in between Gainesville and Baton Rouge. About 5 of the 8 hours of travel are within the state of Florida. It being a large state school, I imagine there are a plenty of supporters and alumni who would have had much more comfortable driving distances. I’m from Louisiana, and it’s not uncommon to come across Florida fans there as well. I say that because I think they could have gotten a lot more Florida fans than normal into Tiger Stadium.

So there is almost nothing LSU wasn’t willing to do to get the game played Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. The only problem was Florida. LSU AD Alleva did say the ultimate decision to postpone the game was made by SEC Commissioner Sankey, so he refused to get too critical in a radio interview I heard, but I’ve also read elsewhere the commissioner doesn’t have authority to schedule an uncooperative team for a different date.

Other examples of rescheduled or moved LSU games

The Tigers didn’t have a great home-field advantage when they played South Carolina in a relocated game last year, and that was a fan base much less likely to make the trip anyway. Not as many people show up to impromptu home games. Given the prices, I don’t blame any season-ticket holder who isn’t willing to pay another penny toward a football game that the season ticket package doesn’t cover.

After Katrina, LSU moved what was supposed to be a home game to Tempe, AZ, to play the Sun Devils. Arizona St. donated the profits, but from the football side of things, it was a definite road game.

There are a couple of other things of note from that season.

The LSU-North Texas game, which was supposed to have been the opener, was rescheduled to October 29. Was that a mutual bye week? No, another team (ULM as I recall) had to move its schedule around.

Also, due to Hurricane Rita, the LSU-Tennessee game (which happened to be the home opener for one Les Miles) was postponed to a Monday. Given all the evacuees from Katrina still in the area, Tennessee had to fly in before the game and fly out after the game.

Like Tennessee did with its 2005 trip, LSU also offered to go to Gainesville without using hotels.

Remaining scheduling options

Since the decision to postpone the game indefinitely, LSU has been less in a mood to bargain with Florida. I’ll talk about where LSU’s position is right or wrong.

One idea was that LSU should cancel South Alabama, Florida should cancel Presbyterian, and LSU @ Florida could be played on 11/19. There is absolutely no reason to buy a team out and lose a home game. It’s ridiculous. It costs the local economy in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to lose a home game, and many businesses desperately need every game given the kind of summer Baton Rouge had. Also, that was supposed to be Senior Night. But I’ll talk below about potential alternatives for LSU keeping the 7 home games (3 of which have already been played and another this weekend).

I do fault Alleva for what he said about playing Florida on 10/29, LSU’s scheduled bye (this would involve moving up the Georgia-Florida game a week, but that decision should have been made already if it’s going to be made). He said he doesn’t want to play if Alabama isn’t going to play on that day. Well, Joe, Alabama isn’t going to play on that day. Georgia doesn’t want to go along with it anyway, not that they have a good excuse other than obstinence. Something about arranging for extra seats to be brought in. I don’t know why that can’t be done on 10/22 instead of 10/29. The Jacksonville Jaguars do have a game, but most stadiums can make changes like that in 24 hours.

Having a bye hasn’t done us much good the last few Alabama games, has it? But I do understand not wanting to play @Florida one week and to host Alabama the next. Not to mention that I don’t think Ole Miss on 10/22 will be a picnic either.

I made a proposal that would allow LSU to play the Arkansas game on 10/29 instead, but I don’t know if that’s too much better.

Brett McMurphy made a proposal that might work. It wouldn’t give Alleva the desired home game on 11/19 or the bye before Alabama, but it would have two good selling points: (1) It would be what should be an easy home nonconference game before Alabama instead of a road conference game the week before Alabama, and (2) LSU would not lose a home game.

However, it would involve some other teams. First, Georgia Southern and Georgia St. would have to move their game from 11/19 to 11/26, when they are both free. This would enable the Georgia St.-South Alabama game to move from 10/29 to 11/19, which in turn would enable LSU to host South Alabama on 10/29. This frees up 11/19 for LSU, when they can play Florida, provided Florida cancels its game with Presbyterian.

There is a similar arrangement that could take place with South Alabama, Georgia State, and ULM switching some games around instead of involving Georgia Southern.

Perhaps some of these teams can be tempted with future schedule considerations (and corresponding substantial financial incentive) with LSU and Florida.

There is another option which seems like it would make Alleva happy but perhaps not Florida. Both the South Alabama-LSU and Florida-Presbyterian games are canceled and LSU plays Florida on 11/19, BUT the game is played in Baton Rouge instead of Gainesville.

Future Years if Game is in Baton Rouge

I know no one would think it’s fair for Florida to go to Baton Rouge three years in a row (although this is their fault), but I have an idea to resolve that. Instead of LSU playing @ Tennessee next year, they host Tennessee and play @ Florida. The scheduled Tennessee @ Florida game would be played in Knoxville instead. That way everyone keeps 4 home games and 4 road games in the conference schedule. Just reset the home and home at that point. So LSU would start playing @ Florida (and Florida @ Tennessee) in odd years, and at home in even years. The non-annual SEC East opponent can be a road game for LSU in even years going forward. Tennessee’s non-annual SEC West opponent can be a road game in odd years going forward.

Changing even to odd is not unprecedented. Mississippi St. went to LSU in 1991 and 1992. Kentucky (which used to be an annual series) went to LSU in 1987 and 1988, and LSU went to Kentucky in 2001 and 2002. Alabama went to LSU in 1991 and 1992. LSU went to Ole Miss (actually Jackson) in 1991 and 1992, and Ole Miss went to LSU in 2001 and 2002. I’m sure there were many such situations that did not involve LSU as well.

Anyway, personally I hope the game gets played even if it involves LSU giving up the bye week and not having a home game on the 19th, but I don’t really want the game to be played if it means LSU having one fewer home game this year. If the game does not get played, something needs to be done about the division championship rules, at least for this season.

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.

LSU-Arkansas Rivalry-Week Series Ends

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rivalry on November 30, 2013 at 1:06 PM
LSU players with the Golden Boot, I believe after last year's game.

LSU players with the Golden Boot, I believe after last year’s game.

I updated the records in my LSU/Arkansas blog and added a brief game summary for the game yesterday.

I didn’t realize it until after the game was played (although I knew changes were coming), but this was sort of a bittersweet ending for the LSU-Arkansas “black Friday” tradition. Granted, it’s not much of a tradition as compared to Ohio St.-Michigan and so forth, but with LSU playing Arkansas at the end of the year (the day after Thanksgiving the vast majority of the time) the last 2/3 of my life is meaningful to me. I remember LSU playing Tulane annually, but I don’t remember that game being one to get excited about. (I was a toddler the last time Tulane beat LSU and barely a teenager when the annual series was canceled.)

Of course, I’m glad LSU won this last game, but I’m also glad Arkansas represented themselves well. It wasn’t good for my nerves, but it just wouldn’t have felt proper for this to be an easy win. I mention in my blog how often in the last 13 years it’s been a close game, so this was fitting. I wouldn’t mind if Arkansas got a good team again, but sometimes there are too many good teams in the SEC, especially as long as LSU has to play Florida every year along with the SEC West slate. The Gators will be back too.

I also liked that LSU usually played Arkansas in Little Rock since the campus was less lively with it being Thanksgiving weekend. I imagine LSU people who traveled to the games liked them being closer as well. The late great George Carlin did a bit about football vocabulary versus baseball. Baseball is played at a park. Football is played on the gridiron in places like Soldier Field and War Memorial Stadium (which is what they call the one in Little Rock). I went to my first game at the L.A. Colliseum last year. There is just something special about stadiums like that. “War”, as I understand the locals call it, was built around 20 years later, but it’s a similar type of severe concrete architecture. I think the Arkansas fans treated it as something special as well.

If I had my druthers, the last four SEC opponents would be Ole Miss (on or around Halloween), Alabama, Mississippi St., and Arkansas, but no such luck. Whether I like it or not (it has its good points, to be honest), Texas A&M and Missouri have joined the SEC, so now there is that to contend with. Before last year, when LSU played Texas A&M (back in the mid-1990s and before), it was in early September; but that doesn’t work now, especially now that we’ve often been playing one of the neutral-site kickoff games. (Next year, LSU will start the season against Wisconsin in Houston.)

I can understand it, and it will probably work out though. We’ve played Auburn (often in September, but Mississippi St. and the non-conference slate will bump them to the first week of October next season) and Florida (usually in the second week of October) early on in recent years, and we don’t need another big game so early in the year. Also, Texas A&M lost their traditional Thanksgiving game with Texas, so they have to play somebody. Missouri should be a good game today; but it’s not a bordering state, and there isn’t a meaningful history between the two schools.

As for Missouri, they’re really out of place being forced into the same division with Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in particular, so giving them and Arkansas a close geographic annual rival makes a good bit of sense. Arkansas isn’t the most natural fit in the SEC West either. Their closest divisional opponent is Ole Miss, a six-hour drive away from the Arkansas campus. (Not that LSU is situated that much better in reference to other schools.) Also, interestingly enough, Tom Dienhart, who wrote to argue for Arkansas to join the Big XII seven years ago (he wanted them to kick out Baylor), got one of the match-ups he wanted after all.

Sometimes when I talk about realignment, I’m an advocate for disturbing certain traditions; but I don’t deny that it doesn’t always feel right immediately afterward even if the changes eventually work and the new reality can become an improvement. I mentioned Auburn, for instance. They didn’t have a rivalry with LSU to speak of before 1992 either, but it’s been a fun series too, and it will continue as far as I can tell. (Although to be honest, they might make more sense in the East.)

Arkansas was sort of a replacement for Tulane (even though they overlapped a few years) anyway, and LSU wouldn’t have been playing the Razorbacks every year if it weren’t for the previous SEC expansion. It became a fun, back-and-forth, competitive series like many of the more long-term and consistent rivalries seem to be. I’ll miss that, along with the other quirks I mentioned.

Maybe something similar will develop from the Texas A&M series. The one this year was better as an LSU fan, but maybe there will be some more like last year to entertain the more neutral fans. I hope they make it at night after all the NFL games end. One thing I didn’t like about the Arkansas series was when it was played at home for LSU, it was often one fewer night game. I also wasn’t thrilled that this season’s game against Texas A&M was during the day, not that I wasn’t satisfied with how that one went.

Also, it’s not like LSU will stop playing Arkansas. That game is set for November 15 next year, apparently in Fayetteville. It could still be an important part of the schedule for either team. Not really relevant to LSU, but I also thought it was interesting that the Hogs will play the Aggies in Jerry World in late September.

So I guess this will be the new Thanksgiving week alignment for the SEC teams; I hope it will stick:
LSU-Texas A&M (Thanksgiving Day)
Arkansas-Missouri
Mississippi St.-Ole Miss
Alabama-Auburn
Tennessee-Vanderbilt
Kentucky-Louisville*
Georgia-Georgia Tech*
Florida-Florida St.*
Clemson-South Carolina*
(* = non-conference game)

I thought about this song as I was writing this:

Most Unlikely FCS vs. FBS Win Yet

In College Football, Post-game on September 8, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Nicholls St. beat Western Michigan yesterday, 27-24. If you don’t know anything about Nicholls St., you’re probably thinking, “So what? FCS teams have won several games like this in the last few years, who cares if a mediocre MAC team lost a game like this?” Hopefully I can explain.

Going into today, most people probably regarded the biggest upset of a I-A/FBS team by a I-AA/FCS team as the upset by Appalachian St. against Michigan, which caused the AP to revise its rules to allow for voters to rank I-AA teams for the first time. So I’m going to talk about that first.

Michigan was ranked #5 nationally when it lost to Appalachian St. in the opener in 2007, but that was mostly because it was widely regarded as the second-best team in the nation for most of the year in 2006.

Most people had not heard of Appalachian St. before then, but they probably should have. The Mountaineers were on a 14-game winning streak since losing to North Carolina St. in the 2006 opener. They were on a 23-game winning streak against I-AA opponents dating back to October 2005.

Michigan had a decent year in 2007, but they did lose to 3 I-A opponents that year as well. Appalachian St.’s winning streak did end in 2007, but the Mountaineers won their third consecutive title despite two losses on the year. So in hindsight, you can at least understand Appalachian St. having the confidence to believe it could win that game.

As an aside, I’m not even sure that was a bigger upset than Stanford over USC, also in 2007. Stanford, which had gone 1-11 the year before, ended a 35-game home winning streak for the Trojans, who would lose only one other game in the 2007 season. USC was the #2 team in the nation going into that game after starting the season #1. Stanford would finish 4-8 in 2007. The closest comparison I can think of is if Kentucky beats Alabama this year and then Alabama goes on to win the Sugar Bowl.

Anyway, comparing that 2007 Appalachian St. team to 2013 Nicholls St. isn’t like comparing day and night. It’s like comparing the surface of the sun to the dark side of the moon.

Going into yesterday, the Nicholls St. Colonels had a 21-game LOSING streak against NCAA schools (15 of them FCS). The Colonels’ only wins in 2011 and 2012 combined were both against Evangel College, which competes in NAIA. Nicholls St. had lost its last three games against FBS opponents by a combined score of 209-22, managing only a field goal apiece against Oregon to start this year and against Oregon St. at the end of last year.

Oregon St. lost to an FCS opponent, Eastern Washington this year, but just to show how Nicholls St. compares in the context of FCS, the Beavers beat the Colonels last November by a score of 77-3. So Eastern Washington won by 3 against a team made up mostly of the players who had beaten Nicholls St. by 74.

The last time the Colonels had played Western Michigan, in 2011, the Broncos won, 38-7. That WMU team went to a bowl game, by the way. So although the Broncos finished 4-8 last year, we’re not talking about a long-term doormat or anything. There probably is a good number of players on the team with bowl experience.

To be fair, Nicholls St. only lost to South Alabama 9-3 last season, but that was the Jaguars’ first game as an FBS transitional team after going only 4-4 against Division I competition (mostly FCS) the year before. Not quite the same thing. South Alabama also suffered a loss to an FCS team already this season before beating Tulane, a winner of only two games last season.

Western Michigan, on the other hand, had not lost to a currently FCS team since 1996 despite playing one in almost every season, usually wining by a convincing margin. For instance, in 2004, by far the worst WMU season in recent history, the Broncos still beat Tennessee-Martin, 42-0.

The only team I can think of nearly as bad as Nicholls St. that has won a game like this was Central Arkansas in 2009, which was only playing its fourth season in Division I. The Bears finished 5-7, but two of those wins were not against Division I teams and one was against… Nicholls St. But since the upset game by the Central Arkansas was over Western Kentucky, a team fairly new to FBS play, that one was nothing close to the Nicholls St. upset.

So in short, if there is an argument for a bigger disparity in a win by an FCS team over an FBS team, I’d certainly like to hear it. I know a little bit about the subject matter (obviously), but that’s all I can come up with.

Bring Back the Big West

In Bowls, College Football, Realignment on December 8, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Even though this could have been the promising first year of a reorganized respectable second-tier conference, the WAC as we used to know it seems pretty much dead. All the football members have left or are leaving apart from Idaho and New Mexico St.

As recently as 1995, the top three WAC teams of this year, Louisiana Tech, Utah St., and San Jose St., all competed in the Big West. Nevada, UNLV, and New Mexico St. were also in that conference, and Boise St. joined (along with Idaho) in 1996.

Which got me thinking… since there won’t be a WAC, why can’t there be a Big West in football again? I can’t think of a good reason. In football, the Big East is doing so much expanding from the area near the Mississippi River all the way to Boise and San Diego, so that can incorporate these teams while the rest of the conference can keep operating as it is already, with some possible quality expansion in other sports.

These were the teams in the WAC in 1995:
Air Force
BYU
Colorado St.
Fresno St.
Hawaii
New Mexico
San Diego St.
Utah
UTEP
Wyoming

Boise St. and San Diego St. are actually going to be in the Big West in other sports, and Hawaii is already there. I imagine Utah St. and San Jose St. (which appear to be headed to the Mountain West) could be brought back with just the foundation I’ve mentioned so far. BYU left the Mountain West to become independent in football (WCC in other sports, which makes less sense than the Big West would), but no currently AQ-conference has offered them a spot, and they’re naturals to be playing the likes of Boise St. and Utah St., both of which they’ve played this season.

The East-West alliance along the lines of the previously-discussed MWC-CUSA idea didn’t work out because of all the existing obligations (essentially schools could then leave without buyout fees and without paying the conference shares of post-season revenue), but all those problems aren’t here since administratively, it would still really be the Big East.

Louisiana Tech is a definite for the Conference USA, but that’s fine because they were too far to the East for the WAC anyway. The Big West football conference did extend into Arkansas and Louisiana briefly (inlcluding Louisiana Tech and UL-Lafayette, then known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana). There is a bit of a central region in the Big East as well that could provide the anticipated mega-conference some flexibility, so they’re not completely out of the question later.

The Big East has already announced plans to include Memphis, Tulane, SMU, and Houston. With the quality Western teams available, I would think Memphis and Tulane would be playing in the true Big East (by which I mean teams that would be in the Big East in other sports and in the Eastern division in football), but SMU and Houston would be good opponents for them as well. If only one of the four goes out West (in the even both Cincinnati and Connecticut find other conferences), then SMU and Houston could still be permanent opponents.

The only teams left from a couple of years ago (to make up the core of the true Big East) will be Connecticut, Cincinnati, and South Florida.

So this is what I’m thinking as a possible alignment…

Big East Big West
Central Florida Boise St.
Cincinnati BYU
Connecticut Hawaii
East Carolina Houston
Memphis Nevada
South Florida San Diego St.
Temple SMU
Tulane UNLV
Future possibilities Future possibilities
Army Air Force
Louisiana Tech San Jose St.
Navy* Utah St.

*-Navy is already set to join in 2015.

Apart from Navy, the Western future possibilities are more likely in the event of more shuffling of the Eastern teams. The ACC or Big Ten could take teams from the East if they want to go to 16. If the SEC goes to 16, they would likely come from the ACC, which will probably want to replace those two. So if two teams are lost from the Eastern division, they could be replaced by SMU and Houston, whose spots in the Western division could be taken by San Jose St. and Utah St. I could also see SMU and Houston joining the Big XII to make it… wait for it, 12 teams. Then you could simply replace them with San Jose St. and Utah St. Air Force (who could of course be a permanent opponent of Navy) seems like another reasonable possibility

To balance out possible unfairness from permanent opponents, I would be in favor of only counting divisional play toward picking the contestants for the championship game, but this would not rule out one or two games against teams from the other side during the season. If Air Force and Navy were in different divisions, they would still need to play one another. I don’ t know if Army is a possibility, but just for instance, it might be that if all the Commander-in-Chief teams are in this conference, two permanent opponents would be needed. That can’t really be done if it counts as an equal conference game. Other programs may not prefer to play any inter-divisional games.

Also, if circumstances change (which seems to happen every couple of months), maybe there could be too much interest in the East and not enough in the West. Then, you could easily have Memphis and/or Tulane move to the West.

I guess we can expect the Mountain West to have a number of members suitable for a round-robin format, which is sort of why it was created around the turn of the 21st century. So in addition to the three programs mentioned as future possibilities for the Big West, the Mountain West membership includes Wyoming, Colorado St., Fresno St., and New Mexico. I started this off by mentioning Idaho and New Mexico St. They could fit right in if some of the defections take place. Another possibility would be UTEP, which is less than an hour away from New Mexico St. West Texas might be a place to make recruiting inroads. Of course, the Big East is already going to be in East Texas.

Idaho isn’t quite as great of a fit for either conference, but another possibility for Idaho is to go back to the Big Sky, which may also house future FBS programs, by the way.

Anyway, there are definitely suitable teams for an 8-10-team Mountain West as well as an 8-team Big West to be part of the football Big East.

The bowl policies are interesting here. The Fiesta Bowl currently is the Big XII champion’s default destination, but that is going to be the Sugar under the SEC-Big XII contract, so that will open up. Maybe the winner of the football Big East could play there, even if the winner were from the East. An Eastern team might be good enough for the Orange Bowl in some years, but nothing would rule out a Pac-12 or Big XII #2 team playing the MWC champions in the Fiesta Bowl if it worked out that way. I don’t think the MWC under what I’m envisioning would be a fixture in the major bowls, but there may be some years where that would be appropriate. The Cotton Bowl also seems to be taking on increasing importance, but one would think that would be a common location of the SEC-Big XII bowl in the years where the Sugar is a semifinal bowl. In other years, the football Big East might be a good fit as well, regardless of which division the winner comes from.

The Big East doesn’t have to be an unmitigated coast-to-coast disaster, but I’m afraid that is a possibility without the kind of clear direction I would like to see it have with the Western teams. Funny that just a could years ago, many (myself included) were thinking the solution might just be to make the MWC an AQ in lieu of the Big East or simply to remove the Big East from AQ status to make room for more MWC or WAC teams. Now I’m talking about a lot of the teams in question being in the same conference somehow.

LSU sets record in regular-season non-conference win streak

In College Football, General LSU, History on September 22, 2012 at 2:23 AM

Intro and more on ASU (2005)

I wanted to write blogs on two separate occasions, but my work week did not allow me that.

If you want to see my top 25, please click here.

I’m not one of those “homer” types who likes to dwell on how great my team is, but I am impressed with the fact that LSU hasn’t lost a regular-season non-conference game since opening the 2002 season with a road loss to Virginia Tech (then ranked #16). The streak of 40 wins in such games broke the mark completed by Kansas St. in 2003.

Although there are certainly more daunting non-conference schedules around, LSU has put forth a serious effort to have at least one non-conference opponent that at appears to be formidable on paper every year.

The other record is more of a “personal best” as LSU has won 20 consecutive home games since the 13-3 loss to Tim Tebow’s #1 Gators in 2009. This is the only time in its history that LSU has won so many consecutive home games.

I wanted to go through them and talk in detail about some of the close calls and big games (some of which were not so close) during the longer streak.

This piece at “Nola.com” covers several of them, but I’ll mention a few more:

Nola.com includes this game, but I had mentioned the win over Arizona St. immediately after Katrina in my (LSU vs.) Pac-10 blog last week. I talked to an Arizona St. fan (I guess) in the comments on a site where I post my blogs. His memory was a bit different from mine, but I’ll just give the hard numbers I posted. I did subsequently realize that the list of scores on ESPN were not completely correct (they indicated a 7-0 LSU lead in the first quarter when in fact the first quarter was scoreless and ASU scored first), so I’ll post the corrected information of course…

other person: I don’t want to sound like sour grapes, but here is the full story of the LSU/ASU game. Yes the game was moved here (I live in the Phoenix area), but only after ASU agreed to let SEC officials call the game. It was not exactly a back and forth game, ASU (I believe) was ahead 31-17 going into the 4th quarter. Then all the phantom calls against ASU started occurring, and I mean a slew of them. Was the game fixed by the refs? I sure believe it was. By the way, I was there…

Me:

LSU was penalized 11 times for 100 yards while ASU was penalized 6 times for 31 yards.

I watched the game. Calls went both ways. Being there in person means you’re less likely to know what the correct calls were.
7-7 tie in second quarter, 10-7 ASU at halftime, 21-17 LSU with 13 minutes left, then two more lead changes as mentioned. I call that back and forth.

Actually I forgot a couple. Let me start over: 7-7 tie in second quarter, 10-7 ASU at halftime, 21-17 LSU with 13 minutes left, 24-21 ASU with 11 minutes left, 28-24 LSU with 8 minutes left, 31-28 ASU with 4 minutes left, then LSU scored the winning touchdown with about a minute left. The largest lead of the game was 10 (ASU 17-7).

2002 to early 2008

The other 2002 non-conference games weren’t anything special as LSU defeated the Citadel, Miami U. (that’s in Ohio), and UL-Lafayette.

Then in 2003, the closest thing to a seemingly tough game was LSU’s trip to Tucson, where many a Pac-10 team has struggled. But LSU, which went on to win the BCS championship, destroyed the Wildcats, 59-13. The Tigers also defeated Western Illinois, UL-Monroe, and Louisiana Tech that season.

In 2004, the highlight of the non-conference schedule was the first game of the season against Oregon St. This one did not disappoint as the Tigers came away with a home win, 22-21 in overtime. This was also mentioned in detail both by Nola.com and in my Pac-10 blog. Also in 2004 was one of two close calls against Troy during the streak, with the Tigers winning this one, 24-20. Troy actually led with two minutes and 18 seconds left, when Marcus Randall threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to David Jones that turned out to be the game-winner. 2004 was only an 11-game regular season, so the only other game was a win over Arkansas St., the only breather of the three, 53-3.

2005 of course started with another Pac-10 team, Arizona St., as mentioned. The other two wins (another 11-game regular season) were Appalachian St. and North Texas. With the postponement of North Texas from Week 1, these two games turned out to be a welcomed breather between overtime wins over Auburn and Alabama on LSU’s way to the SEC title game in Les Miles’ first season. The Mountaineers (who I believe took the place of Virginia Tech when the Hokies delayed the second leg of the home and home) kept the LSU offense in check for a while but it was hard for them to make much of a game of it when the LSU defense shut them out, 24-0. The North Texas game wasn’t remotely interesting, however, 56-3.

In 2006, LSU had already had the second leg of the Arizona home and home scheduled (which they would win easily) and when a 12th game was added, the Tigers arranged this with the Fresno St. squad that had given USC all it could handle in Los Angeles the year before. Fresno St. had a reversal of fortune that season, however, so LSU won what in hindsight should have been an automatic win anyway. LSU also defeated Tulane and UL-Lafayette that season. Except for Fresno St. (a 32-point win), LSU won each of the other non-conference games that regular season by 42 points apiece.

2007 featured the long-awaited second leg of the Virginia Tech home and home, but the Hokies looked much like one of the also-rans in 2006 in a 48-7 loss in the second game of the year. LSU also had wins of 40+ points over Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech. The Tigers would have the most trouble in the only non-conference road game of the season, against Tulane in the Superdome. The Green Wave only trailed 10-9 at halftime, but the speed/talent gap was too much in the second half, as LSU would win, 34-9.

In 2008, LSU would start off with easy wins over Appalachian St. and North Texas in what turned out to be a very difficult transition year in which the Tigers lost 5 games and were only 5-3 at home. It was nearly 4-4 though.

Troy 2008

After LSU suffered a heart-breaking overtime loss to then-#1 Alabama, Troy came to town to play a game that had been postponed due to Hurricane Gustav. Troy and LSU both entered the game at 6-3, but Troy apparently had a lot of confidence from being 4-1 in conference and LSU obviously wasn’t doing very well in the SEC.

The end of the first half had really exemplified the first three quarters of the game and much of the Tigers’ season that year. Troy took a manageable 17-3 lead in the early part of the second quarter, but then (in a situation that Tigers fans can hardly avoid recalling upon hearing his name), Jarrett Lee threw a touchdown to the wrong team with just under 7 minutes left in the half. LSU had a chance to get within 18 with a 43-yard field-goal attempt as the half ended, but the snap was dropped, and the score remained 24-3.

The Trojans led, 31-3, late in the third quarter. The already-dispirited crowd had left the stadium nearly empty, but the Tigers wouldn’t go down without a fight.

When LSU finally scored (on a Jordan Jefferson run) with about 90 seconds left in the third quarter, it had been about 35 minutes that the Tigers had been held scoreless. LSU had to know it had a chance just a few minutes later when after beginning at their own 14, the Tigers had a 6-yard run. Then, consecutive completions of 9, 33, 5, and 33 yards brought the Tigers to within 14 with 14 minutes to play. Les Miles would later take the blame for not allowing LSU to air it out more, although that had been problematic in a number of SEC games.

Troy would not manage another first down until its final drive. This gave LSU good field position. In the next possession, the Tigers took over at the 40 and Lee threw four more completions in consecutive plays to give LSU a first-and-goal, and the Tigers would run it into the end zone. Barely a minute later, Chad Jones intercepted a pass by the Troy quarterback to give LSU another short field. This resulted in a field goal, narrowing the deficit to just 4 points.

In its next possession, LSU took over at midfield and couldn’t do a thing on offense. But the Troy return man fumbled a short punt of only 30 yards, and LSU recovered. After a false start, the LSU offense returned to its early-4th-quarter form and finally took its first lead with a touchdown. The extra point was missed, but it wouldn’t matter as Troy once again did nothing on offense, and LSU took over at the Troy 34. Except for one yard, Charles Scott almost ran the ball in himself as LSU went up by 9 to all but seal the game for LSU with 1:40 to go.

2009 to present

I had written in detail about some other major games, but the hours I spent on that were wasted with a computer malfunction. I saved the document several times since an auto-save a few hours ago, but somehow the auto-saved version became the document, so it’s all gone except for what you see above and what’s in my head.

The other major game I wanted to draw attention to was the North Carolina game to begin the 2010 season. This was almost the opposite of the Troy game as LSU led 30-10 at halftime but stopped scoring and (after they should have been able to run out the clock) gave UNC chances to win from the 6-yard-line in the final moments. The play-by-play and game stats can be found here. UNC quarterback T. J. Yates threw for almost 100 more yards than LSU had as a team running and passing, but this is deceptive because of LSU’s special teams play in that game. Also, a passing offense generally has to come up with more yards to just keep pace with a good rushing offense. North Carolina’s only lead was 10-7, and that’s when a couple of key fumbles took place (one of them led directly to a safety), and LSU special teams set up a couple of one-play touchdown drives. Granted, they were good long plays in their own right, but it’s easier to score from the 50 than from your own 10. North Carolina had its own long one-play drive, a 97-yard touchdown pass.

I just don’t have the energy at this point to give a decent game story and highlight the major plays and players all over again. I wanted to get this out before the new playing week began.

There were also close but less-than-thrilling contests against Louisiana Tech in 2009 and West Virginia in 2010.

The Louisiana Tech game wasn’t too special. Derek Dooley’s Bulldogs, despite struggling that season, led LSU 13-10 at the half but could only come with a single field goal in the second half in a 24-16 loss. Tech did win some battles on the stat sheet: total yards (322-246), passing yards (144-105), rushing yards (178-141), first downs (23-15), and time of possession (36:20 to 23:40). LSU had only two third-down conversions (and was 0-1 on fourth down), but faced half as many third downs as Tech had. The Bulldogs were 3-4 on fourth down. Tech was penalized for 30 more yards. Neither team turned the ball over. The game was unspectacular enough on offense to lose Jarrett Lee his job as starting quarterback until the Oregon game last year.

West Virginia (back to 2010) only had one drive on the LSU side of the field in the last 22 minutes of that six-point game, and that one drive resulted in a missed 48-yard field goal attempt. After LSU had taken a 17-0 lead, the Mountaineers did get within 3 in the early third quarter with a 15-yard touchdown drive (resulting from a Jordan Jefferson interception), but WVU didn’t touch the ball the last 7 minutes in the third quarter. In the two drives after the missed field goal (in the third-to-last drive of the game), the Mountaineers netted only 6 yards combined, and in one of those possessions, LSU was penalized 5 yards for an illegal substitution. The ‘eers had 58 rushing yards on the game, about twice as many as UNC had had against the Tigers earlier that season.

Last season, of course, LSU beat West Virginia again (by 26 in Morgantown) after beating Oregon by 13 in Jerry World. The Oregon game wasn’t really that close (LSU led by 20 on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter after leading by 17 after 3 quarters). Oregon only led for about 5 minutes in the whole game, and WVU never led. The best the Mountaineers did was get within 6 late in the third quarter, but 16 seconds later, Mo Claiborne ran back the kickoff to put LSU back up 13. LSU would score 17 total unanswered to end the game. Both the Ducks and the Mountaineers would go on to win BCS bowls, but you wouldn’t have known it by those performances, not that the Tigers didn’t deserve a bit of credit.

Nothing to write home about schedule-wise this year. Washington may turn out to be a decent team. As indicated by some of these results, one can lose to LSU by significant margins and still turn out to be very good later on. Then the Idaho game will only be remembered for setting the record really. Of course, neither game was interesting by any rate. North Texas was the opener, that’s about all I have to say for that.

Future games

I’m not expecting too much drama from the Towson game next week, although another FCS team, McNeese St., gave LSU problems in what turned out to be a 22-point Tiger win in 2010.

The Tigers plan to welcome TCU to Tiger Stadium next season, scheduled for September 7, so that might be the next time the streak is put in serious jeopardy. The only game scheduled for 2014 so far is Georgia Southern, and then in 2015, LSU will play Arizona St. in the home and home that was supposed to start in 2005. It ended up being a single charity game thanks to Hurricane Katrina. Other future regular-season non-conference opponents scheduled are, tentatively (such arrangements of course get canceled with much less than 6 years’ notice), North Carolina St. and Oklahoma.

Rivalry Series: LSU vs. Tennessee

In College Football, General LSU, Rivalry on October 15, 2011 at 10:53 PM

I’m not sure what happened here. Some of this blog apparently got deleted. I’m working on adding more information so this conforms a little better to the rest of the series.

Overall records

Tennessee now leads the overall series, 20-9-3.
Tennessee leads in Knoxville, 11-3-1.
Tennessee leads in Baton Rouge, 8-4-2.
LSU leads 2-0 in Atlanta (SEC Championships in 2001 and 2007).
Tennessee leads 1-0 in Houston (the 1972 Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl).

Longest winning. unbeaten streaks
Tennessee: winning streak, 10 (from 1934 to 1959); unbeaten streak, 13 (from 1934 to 1972).
LSU: winning streak, 4 (2006 to present).

Home/away streaks
UT @ LSU: 5, 1939-1952; unbeaten, 6, 1939-1964
LSU @ UT: 2, 2006 & 2011
UT at home: 9, 1934-1975; unbeaten, 10, 1925-1983
LSU at home: None

Biggest wins
Tennessee’s biggest win in the series was 28-0 in 1940.
LSU’s biggest win in the series was 38-7 in 2011, and that was the most points LSU scored in regulation in a win. LSU’s previous best win (and previous most points scored in regulation) was a 34-9 win, also in Knoxville, in 1988, the Tigers’ first win there.
(LSU’s only shutout win over Tennessee was 7-0 in 1933.)

Two of the three highest winning point totals overall were both in very close games. The 2000 overtime game (38) was LSU’s highest point total in a win, and Tennessee’s highest point total was in a 45-39 win in 1989. LSU tied the total of 38 in regulation in 2011.

In the 24 games between 1925 and 1993, LSU had only 3 wins and 3 ties against Tennessee. The teams did not play for the following 6 seasons, but since there has been more consistent play between the two (2000-2011), LSU has won 6 times in 8 games.

Results and narrative from 2000 to present:

2000—Baton Rouge–LSU, 38-31 (OT)
2001—Knoxville–Tennessee, 26-18
2001—Atlanta–LSU, 31-20
2005—Baton Rouge–Tennessee, 30-27 (OT)
2006—Knoxville–LSU, 28-24
2007—Atlanta–LSU, 21-14
2010—Baton Rouge–LSU, 16-14
2011—Knoxville-LSU, 38-7

Please see this blog for videos. I didn’t want to paste them all below.

Although it was for a stretch there, this series isn’t generally played often, but there have certainly been some memorable games even going back to Nick Saban’s first season at LSU.

One of the defining games of that first season was an overtime win over #11 Tennessee. LSU really needed a win after losing by 17 on the road against a ranked Auburn team and then coming home and suffering an upset to UAB. If LSU loses that game for a third consecutive loss going into the Florida game, things would have looked pretty bleak. At the time, it was only LSU’s fourth win over the Vols in history (in 25 games).

So even though they got blown out by Florida anyway, I still think that Tennessee win was very helpful to the team going forward. After Florida, the Tigers won four in a row, becoming bowl eligible for only the fourth time in 12 seasons.

The end of the game was interesting. LSU had a 46-yard field-goal attempt blocked, leading to the overtime period. The Tigers scored a touchdown on their first play in overtime. After two plays of their possession, Tennessee had the ball at the LSU 11 with a first down. On second down, the Vols advanced the ball to the LSU 4, but the Tiger defense held, giving LSU the win after two incomplete passes.

There was a fairly close loss in early 2001 at Tennessee, but LSU once again didn’t start out that season well and Tennessee was in the top 10.

Tennessee was poised to go to the national championship game when they (surprisingly) met the Tigers again in the SEC Championship game. I say surprisingly because LSU started SEC play 2-3. The Tigers were not intimidated though. After facing an early 17-7 deficit, they would outscore the Volunteers 21-3 in the second half, finally putting the game out of reach with a touchdown to go up 11 with just over two minutes remaining.

Les Miles’ first home game was actually a loss to Tennessee. It didn’t really inspire a lot of confidence, I have to say. LSU got out to a 21-point lead (seemingly picking up where they had left off in 2001) and then it seemed they were trying to coast to victory. They knocked out the Tennessee starting QB, which seemed like a good thing at the time, but it wasn’t. The Tigers managed only three more points before losing in OT. LSU transfer Rick Clausen came off the bench to lead a second-half comeback to finally win a game in Tiger Stadium. (He did start one game for LSU that the Tigers eventually won, but he was removed from that game after a poor first quarter.)

In 2006, LSU got revenge by winning with a touchdown in the final seconds at Tennessee. After another somewhat exciting SEC title game in 2007 (again won by LSU), the Vols’ next trip to Tiger Stadium appeared to be a win just like the last one had been…

When I saw the snap in the waning seconds of the LSU @ Tennessee game in 2010, I turned off my television in disgust. After angrily pacing around and grabbing some refreshment (I do not recall if it was an alcoholic one), I turned the TV back on in time to see what appeared to be an emotional Tennessee player, but he didn’t seem happy. Then I saw what seemed to be a replay of an LSU touchdown.

Not from the game I saw. The only LSU touchdown in the game I saw was a long run from about midfield by LSU QB Jordan Jefferson. At some point I saw the score. I wear glasses, so I questioned whether the “6” I saw was really a 6 or whether it was the “0” I had seen when I was turning the TV off.

This video is the first time I saw the whole thing. In the video, I also noticed for the first time the LSU band was playing the fan-favorite song Neck after the game ended. (When this song is played, the fans say something you can’t quite make out in the video… let’s just say it’s not suitable to type out here.)

Even if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, after the errant snap I mentioned, you can see Derek Dooley apparently trying to get off the field and take his team with him. Curiously though, the officials (often the first people off the field) hung around. More than a minute elapsed before there was any suggestion that there might be another play. Another 30 seconds later, and the call was finally made. Illegal participation on Tennessee. When the announcers count them, there were 13 Tennessee players.

Dooley’s explanation of events is possibly even more fascinating. He mentions that CBS was trying to interview him and he was glad he didn’t do that.

Incidentally, Dooley had given LSU just about all they could handle as the head coach of Louisiana Tech the season before. The Bulldogs only lost to the #9 Tigers by 8 points. That’s one reason I always sort of defended him, but he did seem out of his depth in other SEC venues at times.

Back to the end of the game, I understand at this point that Miles had lost communication with the press box. Miles had retrieved his headset, but I guess Gary Crowton, who was then the offensive coordinator, was on his way downstairs. I don’t think coaches normally hang around a press box when a game appears to be over. Anyway, the way Miles discusses it, he made the play call himself. The next snap was not made until nearly three minutes after the previous one.

This was Les’s rambling after the game. Unlike Dooley, he doesn’t get around to describing the end of the game until about 3:45.

He was responsible for the final play call (the successful one) but didn’t have a good answer as to why so many seconds ticked off the clock before the illegal participation.

One of the reporters mentions toward the end that LSU had a lot more yards than Tennessee but (obviously) had trouble turning yards into points and also committed four turnovers. Sounds familiar.

LSU blew out Tennessee the following year in Knoxville, and the two have not played one another since. It’s unclear when they will play again, but no sooner than 2016 (unless somehow Tennessee and LSU both make the SEC championship game or the same bowl/playoff game next season).

Comments after the 2011 game, including discussion of prior history

Looks like it’s time for the next game between the two to be in Atlanta. I’m not sure how the addition of Texas A&M might alter things, but if the same rotation is maintained, the next regular-season game in this series would be in 2015 in Baton Rouge.

Today’s game ended a streak of 4 straight games in the series that were decided by one possession, and the winning score in three of those four had come with 9 seconds or fewer on the clock.

Speaking of close games, I also wanted to add a note about another game that was extremely close, the 14-13 Tennessee win in Knoxville in 1959. LSU had won 19 games in a row. This included 11 the year before when the Tigers their first major-poll national championship and the only one LSU would have until 2003 (and only AP poll title until 2007).

In the previous week, #1 LSU had knocked off #3 Ole Miss, 7-3, in Billy Cannon’s famous punt return. I found this highlight video. Skip to about 1:45 if you want to see the punt return.

Anyway, strong defense was much more the norm back then, and once again, LSU had to take advantage of one of its few opportunities for points, and once again, the man the Tigers relied on was Billy Cannon, who would win the 1959 Heisman Trophy. When LSU scored what could have been the tying touchdown early in the 4th quarter, they chose to go for two points and give the ball to Cannon. I could not find the video, but if you watched the game today, they showed the stop by Tennessee. Tennessee had nothing but let-down after the game, losing their next three to finish 5-4-1. LSU’s second loss of the season would come in a Sugar Bowl rematch against Ole Miss.

This is a summary by the Knoxville News Sentinel of the 1959 LSU-Tennessee game.

Today was LSU’s first trip to Knoxville as the #1 team since then. (LSU had never been #1 in the AP poll before 1958). Tennessee has only beaten a #1 team one other time, in 1985 against Bo Jackson’s Auburn Tigers, also in Knoxville. Today’s game was one of 9 losses to a #1 team.

The only time I can find that Tennessee was #1 when playing LSU was 1939 in Baton Rouge. The Vols won, 20-0, and would finish the regular season not only undefeated but without having given up a point. However, for some unknown reason, Texas A&M took over the #1 spot two weeks later and ended up winning the AP poll for that year. After the final poll, #2 Tennessee was finally scored upon by USC in the Rose Bowl. The #3 Trojans won, 14-0, to finish 8-0-2. Tennessee finished 10-1, and LSU finished 4-5. Texas A&M would win the Sugar Bowl over #5 Tulane to finish 11-0. #4 Cornell also finished undefeated and untied that year, so Tennessee may have lost #1 simply because of jockeying between the voters for the four top-5 undefeated teams before the bowls.

LSU vs. Ole Miss: the Go (Geaux) to Hell series

In Rivalry on November 26, 2010 at 1:56 AM
In recent years, the winner of the LSU-Ole Miss game has taken home the Magnolia Bowl Trophy.  The magnolia is the state flower of both Louisiana and Mississippi.  Apparently, Ole Miss destroyed the original in 2013, so the new one is the one on the right.

In recent years, the winner of the LSU-Ole Miss game has taken home the Magnolia Bowl Trophy. The magnolia is the state flower of both Louisiana and Mississippi. Apparently, Ole Miss destroyed the original in 2013, so the new one is the one on the right.

Most of this blog (except for a few changes to the series notes and mentions of subsequent games at the bottom) was originally posted on the SportingNews on November 16, 2007./em>

The “Go to Hell series” is so named (by me at least) because both sides involve that phrase in chants directed against the other team.

Series Notes

Ole Miss (105 meetings as of the 2016 game) is LSU’s second most-common opponent after only Mississippi St. (109 meetings). 2016 was the 71st season in a row the two have played. The only longer current streak for LSU is 72 (Mississippi St.). Tulane, which stopped playing the Tigers yearly after 1994, played LSU 83 consecutive LSU seasons (76 consecutive Tulane seasons). Mississippi St. is also Ole Miss’s only more-commonly-played opponent, having played the Rebels on about 10 more occasions.

LSU won five in a row overall in the series from 2002 to 2007, but Ole Miss took three of six from 2008 to 2013 before losing in 2014.

From 2003 to 2007, LSU won 3 in a row in Oxford for the first time ever (although LSU did win 3 road games in a row from 1907 to 1917). The Tigers were of course a few yards or a few points away from extending their road streak to 4 for the first time. Before 2013, LSU had won three games in the series in a row and 9 of 11 after Ole Miss won 4 of the previous 5 meetings.

Overall records (updated after 2016 game)
LSU leads, 60-41-4
In Louisiana, LSU leads 41-26-1
In Baton Rouge, LSU leads, 40-24-1
In New Orleans, Ole Miss leads, 2-1
In Mississippi, LSU leads, 19-15-3
In Oxford, LSU leads, 9-8-1
In Jackson, LSU leads, 9-6-2
In Vicksburg, LSU leads, 1-0
In Meridian, Ole Miss leads, 1-0

Longest streaks:
LSU, 8, 1928 to 1937
LSU also went 8-1-1 from 1976 to 1985.
Ole Miss, 6 (7 unbeaten), 1952 (1951) to 1957 (This includes Ole Miss’s longest road winning streak of 4 and unbeaten streak of 5.)
Ole Miss had a comparable streak when the Rebels went 6-1-1 from 1962 to 1969.

Biggest wins:
LSU, 52-3, 2011 (Oxford; previously it was 46-0 in 1901 [Baton Rouge])
Ole Miss, 37-3, 1963 (Baton Rouge; Ole Miss’s biggest shutout win was 32-0 in Jackson in 1992.)

Most points scored:
LSU, 61, 1970
Ole Miss, 46, 1956

Highest total points scored by both teams:
1. 2010 – 79, LSU 43, Ole Miss 36 (Baton Rouge)
2. 1970 – 78. LSU 61, Ole Miss 17 (Baton Rouge)
3. 2012 – 76, LSU 41, Ole Miss 35 (Baton Rouge)
4(t). 1948 and 1998 – 68, Ole Miss 49, LSU 19 (Baton Rouge); Ole Miss 37, LSU 31 (Oxford)
6(t). 1973, 1989, 1999, and 2007 – 65, LSU 51, Ole Miss 14 (Jackson); LSU 35, Ole Miss 30 (Oxford); Ole Miss 42, LSU 23 (Baton Rouge); LSU 41, Ole Miss 24 (Oxford)
10. 1956 – 63, Ole Miss 46, LSU 17 (Baton Rouge)

Lowest total points scored (post-WWII)
@LSU 7, Ole Miss 3, 1959
Tie, 6-6. 1951 (@LSU) & 1960 (@Ole Miss)
@LSU 14, Ole Miss 0, 1958
LSU 14, @Ole Miss 0, 1985 (Jackson)
@LSU 10, Ole Miss 7, 1961 & 2014
Ole Miss 17, @LSU 0, 1966
@LSU 11, Ole Miss 10, 1964
Ole Miss 21, LSU 0, 1960 (Sugar Bowl in New Orleans)
Ole Miss 15, @LSU 7, 1962

1894 to 1914: the early years

Until 1914, the series was fairly back-and-forth, played in a variety of locations (New Orleans, Vicksburg, Meridian, and Jackson, as well as Baton Rouge), was not played every year, and neither side dominated. There was no streak of more than 2 wins by either side until 1917. The Rebels’ only leads and ties in this series were during this time period. They led 1-0 and 2-1, later tying at 3, 4, and 6 (in 1914).

1915 to 1957: series of streaks, LSU takes a dominating lead

LSU would only lose once in the series from 1915 to 1937, although, to be fair, only 5 of those 15 games were played outside of Baton Rouge.

Ole Miss responded by winning 4 in a row, all in Baton Rouge. The 1938 win ended the Tigers’ longest home streak of 18 games, which was not surpassed until this season.

After LSU won 5 of 7 from 1942 to 1950 (all in Baton Rouge), Ole Miss won 6 in a row (after the 1951 tie) under John Vaught (as in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium) despite only playing 2 of the 6 in Mississippi. Vaught would go 15-7-3 against the Tigers.

LSU still led the series by over 10 games. After the 1926 game, the series was only interrupted in 1932, 1935, 1943 (no Ole Miss team), and 1944 (shortened schedule). It has not been interrupted since.

1958 to 1971: the best of the SEC, at least outside of Tuscaloosa

1958 to 1972 was the most meaningful stretch in the rivalry. Ignoring ties, LSU won 77% of its games during the period, and Ole Miss won 75%. Neither side had a losing season during that stretch and each went undefeated and untied once. Ole Miss went 10-0-1 one year (1960) also, the tie coming against the Tigers.

Although book-ended by LSU wins, Ole Miss went 8-6-2 against the Tigers during that period. During the stretch from 1951 to 1969 (which includes LSU’s wins in 1958 and 1959), LSU only won 4 times. The Rebels went a total of 12-4-3 in that latter period of time, getting within 4 games of LSU for the overall series.

The Rebels’ six-game winning streak over LSU ended in 1958, 14-0. LSU had gone into the game as #1 in the AP poll, #5 in the UPI, and Ole Miss had been #6 in both polls. The next week, LSU moved up to #2 in the UPI and passed up Iowa, who had been tied, the week after that. LSU would go on to win its only undefeated consensus national championship to date.

The Tigers remained #1 until facing the Rebels on that Halloween night the next year, when what is considered the greatest play in LSU history took place. Ole Miss was also undefeated at that time, ranked #3 in both polls.

Ole Miss led, 3-0, going into the fourth quarter. The defensive struggle continued, forcing Ole Miss to punt in the opening minutes of the fourth. Back to receive was a well-known halfback by the name of Billy Cannon. Cannon was UPI and TSN Player of the Year the year before, as well as earning several other national, regional, and position honors.

I don’t know if it was a breach of ethics to punt out of bounds back then or what, but the ball went right to Cannon (off of a bounce), and the rest is history, memorialized in a grainy videotape (which you’ll almost certainly see whenever the game is broadcast). Cannon broke at least 7 tackles–and it seemed the entire kicking team had a shot at him at some point–as he scored the only points in the game (except for the extra point) for LSU, which won 7-3 after a goal line stand.

Vaught would later say about the run, “Outside the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 [which preceded statehood by 9 years], many Cajuns consider Billy Cannon’s run the greatest event in state history.”

Cannon, a Philadelphia, MS, native, would go on to win the Heisman Trophy.

It was LSU’s 18th victory in a row, but the Tigers’ streak ended in Knoxville (where the Tigers had never won despite it being their 7th try) by 1 point the following week, and national championship hopes all but ended when the Rebels would pass up the Tigers in the polls after defeating the Volunteers.

Syracuse would win the national championship and defeat #4 Texas in the Cotton Bowl. LSU, ranked #3, was matched up with the #2 Rebels again in the Sugar Bowl, which in a way functioned as the first SEC Championship game, and Ole Miss won 21-0. LSU did not make it past the Ole Miss 38.

After the tie in Oxford ruined Ole Miss’s perfect season (likely costing them a national championship) later in 1960, LSU would win in 1961, 10-7. The Rebels then went 4-0-1 over the next five years. The Ole Miss wins in 1968 and 1969 were each by 3 points and each with Archie Manning at the helm. Manning was so successful at Ole Miss that the speed limit on campus is still 18, his number as a Rebel.

The Tigers would take out their frustrations on him in 1970 though, winning 61-17, LSU’s biggest win in the series since 1917.

Ole Miss responded with another nail-biter win in Jackson, by only 2 points this time.

1972 to 1982: LSU takes over again

The Tigers would have trouble in the 1972 return to Baton Rouge. Had it been played two years later, it would probably be known to this day as Clock-gate. LSU came into the game at 6-0 and on a 10-game winning streak and Ole Miss was 4-3, having ended a 3-game losing streak to begin conference play by beating Vanderbilt the week before. But LSU would need every second. After three plays were run in the final 10 seconds–the ball was snapped for the second-to-last play with 4 seconds on the clock–LSU would win, 17-16. A sign was put up along the Mississippi-Louisiana border that read, “Entering Louisiana — Please Set your clocks back four seconds.”

Vaught originally left Ole Miss after the 1970 season, then came back for one year in 1973, but he couldn’t beat the Tigers, although that team won 4 of its last 5.

From 1972 to 1982, LSU went 9-1-1 against the Rebels. Ole Miss only won three games in the series from 1972 to 1989.

1983 to 2001: Back and forth with Billy Brewer (and three other guys)

Brewer went 4-7 against LSU, but it didn’t seem like it. He was 4-1 against the Tigers when his team finished the regular season with a winning record, losing only in a 1989 upset. The win over the Tigers in Baton Rouge in 1986 gave LSU its only SEC loss on the season.

Joe Lee Dunn beat the Tigers in 1994, one of only 2 conference wins (the other over Vanderbilt) in Dunn’s only year at Ole Miss.

The Tigers welcomed Tommy Tuberville to the SEC by beating him 38-9 in his first game as head coach against LSU (which happened to be on the road), and 39-7 the next year.

Tuberville would respond by beating LSU four times in a row, two at Ole Miss. The first time was an upset, one of only three losses by the Tigers in 1997. But after a 3-year bowl streak in which the Tigers went 26-9-1 overall, LSU reverted to early ’90s form with miserable years in 1998 and 1999. This enabled David Cutcliffe to beat the Tigers in his first contest against them as head coach and ran the Ole Miss winning streak to 3.

In 2000, Nick Saban’s first season, the Tigers evened things out against Cutcliffe by winning in Oxford, 20-9.

Cutcliffe, with Louisiana native Eli Manning at QB, again led his team to a win in Tiger Stadium in 2001, which brought his team to 6-1 (the loss to his predecessor on the road) and dropped LSU to 3-3. But fortunes dramatically reversed afterward. The Tigers won 7 in a row, winning the SEC Championship and Sugar Bowl, and the Rebels only won one game of their last four (over Vanderbilt).

In all during this period, LSU was only 10-9 against Ole Miss. 2001 had marked the fourth Ole Miss win in 5 meetings and 7th in their last 12.

2002 to present: Mostly nail-biters, mostly LSU wins

The Rebels played LSU during another late-season collapse of theirs in 2002 but still only lost at Tiger Stadium by 1. They went on to win their final game in the Egg Bowl then beat Nebraska in the Independence Bowl. LSU, with a chance to return to the SEC Championship, lost by 1 in Little Rock, sending it to the Cotton Bowl and a loss to Texas.

In the stoutest challenge the Tigers received in their national championship season (other than that from Ron Zook’s Gators, who beat LSU), the Rebels gave the Tigers all they could handle in a 17-14 loss at Oxford. It was Manning and the Rebels’ only loss in his last 9 games.

In 2004 at Tiger Stadium, the Tigers finally evened out Cutcliffe’s record at 2-2. Although LSU would win 9 games in Saban’s final season and Ole Miss would only win 4 in Cutcliffe’s final season, it was another 3-point game, 27-24. I mark the decision to fire Cutcliffe (which I disagreed with at the time) as the beginning of Ole Miss’s recent troubles.

2005, Les Miles’ first season, is the first of only three exceptions to the close-win pattern in this group as LSU won 40-9, their 8th win in a row.

In 2006, despite another lackluster season for Ole Miss and another 11-win season for LSU, the Rebels took the Tigers to overtime at Tiger Stadium. They accomplished this with a blocked extra point after what looked to be the winning drive by LSU. The Tigers avenged the 1998 loss, the only other in overtime, which was played at Ole Miss. Colt David, who had attempted the extra point, redeemed himself with a 26-yard field goal.

That had been the fourth of five contests decided by 3 points or less, but LSU did not lose one of them.

Ole Miss got a measure of vengeance with a big win in 2008 and the 2009 game which they barely survived.

Then of course, LSU got another close win in 2010. The Tigers trailed with just 44 seconds left, as Stevan Ridley scored to give LSU its third distinct lead of the fourth quarter and fourth lead of the second half. For the Tigers, this ended a three-game losing streak against Houston Nutt, dating back to the 50-48 triple-overtime win by Arkansas over the Tigers in 2007.

LSU then gave Houston a hell of a send-off with a 52-3 win in Oxford in 2011. It was both the most points either has scored in the state of Mississippi in the series (probably the most points LSU scored in a single game played in the state of Mississippi ever) and the largest margin of victory in series history by either team. The score was actually deceptively close as LSU did all it could to avoid scoring in the final possession. After a first-and-goal at the 1, the Tigers kneeled the ball four consecutive times.

Ole Miss was 5-5 entering the 2012 game, and LSU was 8-2, but the Rebels were motivated. Ole Miss gave the Tigers a scare before LSU scored the winning touchdown with 15 seconds to go. The Rebels had led 28-20 after three quarters and 35-28 with 10 minutes to go in the game. The play of the game in my opinion was a Billy Cannon-esque 89-yard punt return down the right side of the field by Odell Beckham to tie the game at 35. Jalen Collins, whom Beckham went around when he first went left and then went right, was also instrumental in the return. A couple of possessions later, the Rebels had a chance to take the lead after getting a first and 10 at the LSU 18 but after sacks ended up with a 4th and 30 and only a missed 53-yard field goal attempt to show for it. LSU would parlay the resulting field position into the winning touchdown drive. Although Ole Miss out-gained LSU 463-427 (this did not factor in the punt return), the LSU defense was good when it mattered, allowing Ole Miss to gain only one first down (not counting another by penalty) in its last four possessions.

I wrote my thoughts on the 2013 game here. Aside from the “Series Notes”. 2013 and 2014 are not reflected in some of the remarks above, but I am including them in the following: It was the ninth time in the last 13 games in the series that the game was decided by 7 points or fewer.

I had a few entries about 2014, there were also two in anticipation of the game:
Game Preview
Ranked Ole Miss teams vs. LSU

In 2015, LSU entered the game with two consecutive losses after starting undefeated, and the Tigers’ struggles continued in a 38-17 loss. Ole Miss was coming off a bye week after an overtime loss to Arkansas two weeks before. The Arkansas loss ultimately cost the Rebels what would have been their first SEC Championship appearance. Both teams would win bowl games and finish with 3 losses (the Rebels lost a non-conference game against Memphis).

In 2016, both teams were ranked; but the Rebels were again coming off a loss to Arkansas, this time without an intervening bye. LSU had won two in a row after elevating former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron to (interim) head coach. An LSU turnover allowed the Rebels to tie the game at 21 points apiece at the half, but the Tigers did not allow another point and won 38-21.

Les Miles’ record against Ole Miss as LSU head coach finished at 7-4.

LSU remains undefeated in games in the series with Ed Orgeron as head coach of either team. Oregeron had coached Ole Miss from 2005 to 2007, and the only noteworthy game of the series was the 2006 one mentioned above.

Other “Rivalry Series” entries:

Team List:
Alabama (Pregames: 2011, 2013)
Arkansas
Auburn (2010 post-game)
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
Mississippi St.
(Steve Spurrier and) South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas A&M

Special editions:
Pac-12

Any donations for the time spent on this and other blogs would be appreciated.5

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 2015)

LSU leads, 28-22-1
In Baton Rouge, LSU leads, 17-5-1
In the state of Alabama, Auburn leads, 17-11

      In Auburn, Auburn leads, 12-7
      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 7 in a row at home, 2001-present
Auburn won 4 in a row at home, 1981-1994

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.

Top 25 and Commentary after Week 7

In Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 17, 2010 at 7:21 PM

Rank Team Last Week
1 Auburn 2
2 LSU 1
3 Oklahoma 3
4 Mich. St. 4
5 Missouri 8
6 Boise St. 5
7 TCU 6
8 Oregon 9
9 Okie St. 12
10 Alabama 11
11 Ohio St. 7
12 Utah 14
13 Kansas St. 20
14 Iowa 25
15 Stanford 17
16 Wisconsin —
17 Florida St. 22
18 Arizona 19
19 Nebraska 10
20 Miss. St. —
21 WVU —
22 Michigan 15
23 Nevada 13
24 NC State 18
25 N.Carolina —
(For full ratings, click here or on the “Ratings Site” tab above.)
Out of top 25: (16) S.Carolina, (21) Air Force, (23) Oregon St., (24) Arkansas

Commentary
Auburn jumped over LSU with the win over Arkansas. The Swamp Tigers (as opposed to the Plains Tigers) played McNeese St., so it was not surprising that they didn’t hold onto the top spot. Not that it really matters, since the battle of the Tigers is next week at Jordan-Hare.

This is the first time LSU has been 7-0 since 1973, when they actually started 9-0 but lost the last three games, including losing to Tulane for the first time since 1948.

The top 3 have all made a living off of ugly wins, but they all have had formidable schedules and all have 0s in the loss column. Michigan St. only needed to eek out a win in one game (like LSU against Florida, with a fake field goal against Notre Dame), but the same basic logic applies.

Ohio St. and Alabama seem appropriately high in consideration of their losses. Certainly, they belong ahead of Utah, who has had one of the worst schedules thus far. It should improve when the Utes play TCU and Air Force and maybe a couple of other teams in the MWC schedule.

Many of big jumps forward are mostly due to losses by other teams, although of course Mississippi St. and Wisconsin had big wins.

After watching the ESPN BCS show, I had to add in a follow-up comment here. I understand that LSU hasn’t necessarily had impressive wins, but how is that so different from Auburn:
AU 17, Mississippi St. 14 (as opposed to LSU beating Miss. St., 29-7)
AU 27, Clemson 24, OT
AU 37, Kentucky 34
…or Oklahoma:
OK 31, Utah St. 24
OK 27, Air Force 24
OK 31, Cincinnati 29

The people on TV and the voters don’t even think about the logic behind what they’re saying. They just get an impression in their head about a team and completely ignore all of the contradictory stances if you actually sit there and look at the results. And then they wonder why there are computers in the BCS rather than having us just trust them.

Unrelated to that, I just realized there are actually two top-5 match-ups next week, with Oklahoma traveling to Columbia for the first time since 2006. The Sooners have won 7 straight in the series and 19 of 20 against Missouri since 1983.