LSU Bowl Games

1959 Sugar Bowl

LSU's Season

  • In 1958, LSU enjoyed its first undefeated season on the gridiron in exactly fifty years.
  • Read about the entire season.

    Six Tigers on the '58 team would play in the NFL: Mel Branch, J. W. Brodnax, Billy Cannon, Tommy Davis, Warren Rabb, and Johnny Robinson. Clemson also boasted six future pros on its roster.
LSU 1958
Alabama (Mobile)
@Miami (FL)
Ole Miss
Mississippi State (Jackson) 7-6

Paul Dietzel

Frank Howard
Clemson 1958
North Carolina
@Maryland 8-0
@Vanderbilt 12-7
@South Carolina 6-26
Wake Forest 14-12
@Georgia Tech
@North Carolina State
Duke 34-12
Furman 36-19

The Opponent

  • LSU fans had hoped to play SMU's exciting Mustangs led by QB Don Meredith, who believed they would get the bid if they beat TCU in their finale, which they did, 20-10. However, Sugar Bowl officials had apparently already made up their minds to invite Clemson for their Silver Anniversary game, an action that drew the wrath of the SMU AD.
  • Oddsmakers immediately installed LSU's Tigers as two TD favorites over the Tigers from South Carolina.
  • The disparagement of LSU's opponent gave Coach Frank Howard fodder to stir up his troops. "Anybody knows a hungry Tiger is more dangerous than a fat Tiger," said the veteran of 19 seasons at the helm. "The biggest problem right now is to get everybody well."
  • Many of Clemson's front-liners had been banged up during the season. 6'2" 200 lb QB Harvey White hurt his ankle in the finale against Furman. Keeping the ball often in Howard's option attack from an unbalanced T formation, Harvey had been hobbled multiple times during the season on his way to 739y of total offense.
  • As a response to LSU's nationally-known defensive unit, the Chinese Bandits, the jocular Howard said, "My boys play like a bunch of one-armed bandits." He explained that he had reverted from early season "fancy stuff" like splitting the ends and using wide flankers to "good, hard football. Nothin' wins better." He added, "Our players wanted this opportunity to meet them," the first time the school had ever played the nation's #1 team.
  • Clemson began Sugar Bowl drills December 12, then, after taking time off for Christmas December 20-25, set up training headquarters at Biloxi MS. They moved to New Orleans New Year's Eve.
  • LSU practiced in Baton Rouge until the morning of the game.
  • The game shaped up as a classic confrontation between a fast team (LSU) against a bigger team (Clemson). Dietzel worried about the possibility of rain, which could slow down his Tigers. He recalled the season's second-to-last game, a 7-6 squeaker over Mississippi State in the Jackson mud.
  • "Clemson plays hard, tough football," the LSU head man said. "I look for them to try to overpower us, outmuscle us. They'll try to beat us up badly and wear us down. ... We'll be giving away 15 pounds per man in the line." Paul explained that he had learned that type of football as an assistant to Paul "Bear" Bryant at Kentucky.
  • Howard pronounced his team "in the best possible shape, and everybody is hitting harder than at anytime this year." In particular, QB White was ready to start despite breaking a small blood vessel in his foot and spending December 30 in bed as a precaution. Howard would utilize two units to counter LSU's three-team deployment. He insisted, "We didn't come down here to lose."
  • Frank also commented on the lack of respect for his team. "They (the press) keep telling us we're not worth a darn. I don't know, maybe we're not. But you keep telling a feller that long enough, and it begins to get under his hide." The Clemson boss also took note of the comment by Louisiana Governor Earl Long that the game would be a glaring mismatch.
  • The night before the game, Ted Smith, general sports editor of The Associated Press, presented the trophy to Coach of the Year Dietzel for finishing #1 in the final AP poll. The Tigers finished almost 500 points ahead of Iowa.
  • By game time, LSU had risen to as much as a 17-point favorite in some quarters.

SMU QB Don Meredith

Clemson QB Harvey White

The Game

Overcast skies and some mist early New Year's morning portended an uncomfortable afternoon. But the sun came out an hour before the kickoff and helped the temperature reach a high of 50°. A sellout crowd of 82,000 saw a game much closer than pundits predicted. The slippery grass bothered both teams but especially the Bayou Bengals.

First Quarter

  • The opening period featured some fine punting by Billy Cannon, Tommy Davis, and Clemson's Bill Mathis with LSU generally holding the advantage.
    Max Fugler kicked off for LSU to the Clemson 8, HB Charlie Horne returning to the 35. When three plays gained 9 yards, the visitors punted dead on the LSU 24.
    On the second play, Cannon attacked RT for 15, but Clemson held, and Billy punted to the 25.
    Soon after, the ACC team kicked back to the LSU 41.
    After the SEC champs went backwards, Davis boomed a punt to the 13 where Lowndes Shingler fumbled and picked it up just in time to be clobbered by Mel Branch. On third down, HB Bob Morgan broke loose for 21. But the purple-shirted Tigers couldn't move the chains again and punted to the 20.
    Dietzel sent in the Go team, his offensive specialists. After Donnie Daye gained 4, Davis got free through LT for 15 to the 40. Two snaps later, Durell Matherne hit Scotty McClain with a fine pass all the way to Clemson's 30. Don Purvis registered 5y as time expired.
1958 Go Team
1st row: Don Norwood (82), Jack Frayer (73), Mike Stupka (68), Bobby Greenwood (50), Al Dampier (63), Dave McCarty; (74), Scotty McClain (83); 2nd row: Donnie Daye (33), Tommy Davis (44), Durel Matherne (16), Don Purvis (23)

Captain Billy Hendrix represents LSU for coin toss

L: Cannon takes handoff from Rabb; R: Red Broadnax tackles runner with Johnny Robinson (34) and Charles Strange (72)
Second Quarter
  • The action stayed in Clemson territory most of the 15 minutes.
    Matherne and Daye mishandled a handoff, and E Ray Masneri recovered for Clemson on the 22.
    Staying with its game plan of banging off-tackle slants, Clemson rammed for a first down by a hair on the 32 - the first of four close calls on the afternoon. But after gaining nothing more, Horne went back in punt formation. But a high pass from center threw off his timing, and the ball went off his ankle for -2y to the 28.
    Two plays, including a pass Rabb-to-Cannon pass, moved the pigskin to the 12. But three passes failed, and Tommy Davis came on with the kicking tee. But the Tigers decided to pull a fake. Rabb took the snap and tried another aerial that sailed over the head of Cannon who was all alone in the EZ. "We had been practicing the play. We figured they would all come in and that we could make a touchdown on it," Davis explained.
    The next time, the Bayou Bengals moved into the red zone, they stayed on the ground.
    Clemson went three-and-out, LSU receiving the punt on its 45. On the third snap, Rabb connected with E Mickey Mangham for 25y. Then Warren kept around end for 13 more to the 19, hurting his hand on the tackle. Rabb gained 3 more before FB Red Broadnax burst over RT to the 8. Cannon added 3 and another 3 to put the ball on the 2. Clemson called timeout to devise a goal line defense, but luck prevailed over design. As FB Red Broadnax plunged into the EZ, he fumbled the ball on the 1' line, Doug Cline recovering for Clemson for a touchback. "I thought it was over," Broadnax insisted after the game.
    Rabb left the game and did not return. "I didn't know it was broken until I came out before the half," Warren said. "I think it got hit with a helmet." With Bandit QB Darryl Jenkins out of action due to a pregame injury, Dietzel had one experienced signal-caller at his disposal, the Go team's Matherne.
    Set back by a holding penalty, Clemson had to punt, Purvis returning 19y to the 42. But incomplete passes led to Cannon kicking over the goal line.
    The SC Tigers gained 8 in three plays to run out the clock.
    The 0-0 score at the break shocked the nation.

Red Broadnax fumbles at the goal line.

Third Quarter

  • Cannon returned the kickoff 32y to the 39. But a third-down incompletion caused Billy to uncork a beautiful 50y punt to the 6 only to have the play called back and LSU penalized 15y for holding.
    Still not throwing its first pass of the day, Clemson used straight-ahead, no-frills T-formation power to drive for four first downs from its 28 to LSU's 27. But a hard tackle forced George Usry to lose the ball, and Strange fell on it.
    But LSU couldn't move the defense led by future New Orleans Saint Lou Cordileone at T, and Davis boomed a 53-yarder to the 10, Morgan getting thrown back to the 8 on the return.
    LSU finally got the break it was looking for four plays later. With Clemson in punt formation, backup C Paul Snyder launched a misguided snap that bounced off the leg of FB Cline, and T Duane Leopard recovered for LSU on the 12.
    After gaining just 3 on two runs, Cannon took a pitchout from Matherne to the right and shot a perfect pass to Mickey Mangham, then converted for a 7-0 lead.
    Clemson gained a first down at its 42, then gained 6 more before the horn sounded.

Two views of Cannon's TD pass to Mangham
Fourth Quarter
  • 210 lb FB Rudy Hayes smashed for a first down on the LSU 48. But four plays later, Usry barely missed another first down to turn the ball over on the 39.
    Once again, the Clemson D caged the Bengals, and Cannon punted to the 17.
    Dietzel sent in the rested Chinese Bandits. But boom, boom. Shingler ran for 12, then White threw his first pass of the game, a completion to E Wyatt Cox for another first down, and just like that the Tigers reached their 47.
    With time winding down, Clemson finally threw its first pass, a 12-yard completion from White to Cox. Soon after that, White hit Sam Anderson for another 12y advance. White threw again, this one to Anderson for 11 to the 40. Aided by a 5y penalty, the Carolina Tigers gained another first down on the 28 with 3:40 to play. On the sideline, Howard decided to go for two if his boys scored.
    After two runs gained 4, Clemson suddenly changed its strategy. White threw an incompletion to make it fourth down. He then flipped a screen pass to Usry, who appeared to have running room. But the throw was low, and Usry dropped the ball. With the collective sigh of LSU fans audible all the way to Baton Rouge, the white-clad Tigers took over with a minute and a half to play.
    On the next to last play of the game, Fugler lost his temper over what he considered rough play. But for quick intervention from his teammates, Max might have started throwing punches.
    Thus did LSU complete the most successful gridiron campaign in its history.
1958 Chinese Bandits

1st row: Mel Branch (75), Emile Fournet (65), Tommy Lott (61), Duane Leopard (71), Gaynell Kinchen (81); 2nd row: Andy Bourgeois (80), Darryl Jenkins (10), John Langan (53), Merl Schexnaildre (43), Henry Lee Roberts (32), Hart Bourque (22)

Charlie Horne

Ray Masneri

Doug Cline

Hendrix and Lynn LeBlanc (70) close in on Harvey White.

Cannon is spilled in early action.

George Usry

Mickey Mangham

Cannon runs with handoff from Matherne

Lowndes Shingler

Sam Anderson

Max Fugler




1936 Sugar Bowl

1937 Sugar Bowl

1938 Sugar Bowl

1944 Orange Bowl

1947 Cotton Bowl

1968 Peach Bowl

1996 Peach Bowl

2005 Capital One Bowl

Tiger Den Archives – I

Tiger Den Archives – II

Tiger Den Archives – III

Tiger Den Archives – IV

Tiger Den Archives – V

Football Magazine

Golden Rankings Home