LSU Bowl Games

1936 Sugar Bowl

LSU's Season

  • Bernie Moore's first LSU squad lost its opener to Rice, 10-7, then won the remaining nine to win the Southeastern Conference crown.
  • Moore's star was triple-threat TB Gus Mickal, who would soon become LSU's first NFL draftee.
  • The Tigers pitched five shutouts: Manhattan (32-0 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn), Auburn (6-0), at Georgia (13-0), Southwestern Louisiana (56-0), and at Tulane (41-0).
  • The mathematical system of economics professor Frank Dickinson ranked the Tigers #4. The United Press International sportswriters' poll placed LSU #7. (The Associated Press would start its poll the following season.)
  • As a result, LSU received the school's first bowl bid ever. They would play their second straight game at Tulane Stadium, this one on New Year's Day against TCU in the second edition of the Sugar Bowl.

The Opponent

  • In his second season in Fort Worth, Dutch Meyer coached the Horned Frogs to an 11-1 record. One of the victories came in New Orleans, 14-0 over Loyola. A battle of unbeatens for the Southwest Conference championship on November 30 resulted in a 20-14 SMU victory that sent the Mustangs to the Rose Bowl and the Frogs to the Sugar. It was TCU's first post-season game.
  • Dickinson's final standings – he didn't recalculate after the bowl games – pegged TCU #8. Amazingly, the Frogs didn't make the Top 25 in the UPI vote.
  • Known as an innovator in the passing game, Meyer had the ideal QB to run his system. Sammy Baugh threw for 1,293y on 101 completions and 19 TD.

Pre-game Prospects

  • Even if the heavy rains that had fallen for three days stopped before the 1:30 kickoff, the field would at least be sloppy, which concerned Meyer.

    It's going to be a great game. I hate for us to have to play on a slippery field—and we haven't played in the mud in two seasons. I am afraid the wet ball will hurt our chances. Sam Baugh may be able to throw them, but the catching will be tough.

  • TCU averaged three pounds more per man than LSU. However, the Tigers fielded the deeper squad, with "three first rate backfields and two lines of near equal strength." On the other side, only 16 of TCU's 27 players saw regular action.
  • The game would feature two All-American players in Gaynell Tinsley, LSU's powerful end, and Darrell Lester, TCU's husky C who had been selected to the mythical team for the second time.
 1936 Sugar Bowl
1936 Sugar Bowl game in progress

The Game

  • 35,000, the largest crowd ever for a sporting event in Louisiana, braved the chilly, damp conditions. Rain began falling as the second half began and continued throughout the rest of the contest. As the Sugar Bowl's web site says, "Considering everything, the crowd may have witnessed the finest touchdown-less game ever played, complete with multiple goal-line stands."
  • Q1: TCU showed more offense in the scoreless first quarter. George Kline rambled 38y to LSU's 37, but the play was called back for offside. On the next snap, Baugh, who was subjected to a fierce Tiger rush all afternoon, passed to L. D. Meyer for 16y to the Frog 37. Then HB Jim Lawrence dashed 26y to put the ball back on the LSU 37. But J. T. "Rock" Reed intercepted a fourth down pass and returned to the 24. On the next play, he bolted to the 48. But after several short gains, Mickal quick-kicked to the Frog 7. After another exchange of punts, Baugh, one of the greatest punters in football history, quick-kicked 68y to LSU's 12. LSU moved out to the 33 as the period ended.
  • Q2: The day's only points were put on the scoreboard in this period. The punting duel continued with LSU enjoying field position advantage. Crass booted the ball out of bounds on the TCU 6. Not taking any chances, Baugh immediately punted back to George "Junior" Bowman at midfield. He returned the ball to the 18. On third and four, Bill Crass tossed a beautiful pass to E Jeff Barrett who caught it on the 7 and was pulled down on the 3. Crass hit the line twice, then threw incomplete to Jesse Fatherree. Finally, on fourth down, 168lb G Tracy Kellow stopped Crass at the one-foot line. On first down, Baugh dropped back to pass but, pressured by Tinsley, stepped on the end line for a safety. With a chance to regain good field position, LSU received the free kick on its 40. But the key break of the game occurred on the next play when Ernest Seago, a graduate of the same Temple TX high school as Baugh, fumbled, and Willie Walls recovered for TCU on the LSU 45. Finally free from the shadow of its own goal, the Frogs struck quickly. Lawrence crossed up the Tiger D by passing to Walls who was tackled by Bowman on the 13. When the D held for three downs, Taldon Manton kicked a FG from the 28 into the teeth of a brisk northern wind. After several more exchanges of kicks, the half ended. Baugh explained years later:

    I held the ball, and I believe I was more nervous than Taldon was. The kick was ... on the order of a line drive ... at first I thought it might go wide to the right ... but it stayed inside the posts.

TCU Field Goal 1936 Sugar Bowl
Winning FG in 1936 Sugar Bowl
  • Q3: LSU received the kickoff, but Mickal quick-kicked to the 4. Baugh immediately punted back to LSU's 45. Two plays put the ball on TCU's 31, but Baugh intercepted Mickal's pass on his own 16. Late in the period, Abe tossed a "pretty pass" to Barrett for 27y to the LSU 44. But TCU held and traded possessions with the Tigers for the remainder of the quarter.
  • Q4: The United Press reported, "The players on both sides were smeared with mud and hard to recognize as it began to grow dark." Following Bernie Dumas' recovery of Baugh's fumble, LSU mounted a drive that resulted in a first-and-goal on the 8. From there, Bowman swept end for six. But Crass, in two attempts, lost 3. Moore eschewed the FG – possibly because of the rain and muddy field. Instead, Mickal passed to Barrett, but Manton knocked it down to end the immediate threat. Baugh punted out of bounds on his 32, giving LSU another chance to take the lead. But on the next play, Bowman fumbled and TCU recovered back at the Tiger 46. On third down, Baugh crashed through LT and reversed his field all the way to the 4. An unnecessary roughness penalty advanced the ball to the 1. But here the LSU forward wall of Marvin Stewart, Ernest Seago, Justin Rukas, and Tinsley rose up and denied the Frogs the prize. Manton lost 3 yd, Lawrence gained nothing, and Baugh passed into the EZ, where three Tigers knocked it away. On fourth down, HB Vic Montgomery tried an E sweep but lost 7. LSU needed to travel 93y with 5 minutes remaining. But, indicative of the offensive philosophy of the day, Mickal kicked to midfield. After three plays, Baugh punted into the EZ. On first down, Harold McClure intercepted Abe's pass on the 35, returning it 10y. The game ended a minute later.


  • Baugh averaged 46 yd on his 14 punts, an amazing figure considering the weather conditions. LSU punted 13 times for a 45y average, including a 65-yarder by Mickal and Crass's 64-yarder.
  • The total offense marks were almost identical: 169-165 LSU. The Tigers led in first downs 9-6.
  • Coach Meyer: "My conclusion of the game was that the slippery field eliminated at least 30 percent of the offensive power of both teams." He called the game "the finest I've ever seen played in the rain."

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1936 Sugar Bowl Program

Coach Bernie Moore
Bernie Moore

Abe Mickal, LSU TB
Abe Mickal

Coach Dutch Meyer, TCU
Dutch Meyer

Sammy Baugh, TCU QB
Sammy Baugh

Gaynell Tinsley, LSU All-American E
Gaynell Tinsley

Darrell Lester, TCU G
Darrell Lester

L. D. Meyer, TCU
L. D. Meyer

Jim Lawrence, TCU HB
Jim Lawrence

Jess Fatherree
Jesse Fatherree




1937 Sugar Bowl

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