LSU Pivotal Football Moments
pivotal college football moment: A decision by a coach or athletic director that changes the momentum of a program or an action by a player that changes the momentum of a game.
1927 Alabama: Tigers Stifle Tide in Rain
Wallace Wade's fifth Alabama squad was coming off back-to-back Rose Bowl appear­ances as they prepared to face LSU at Rickwood Field, Birmingham's minor league baseball park. The Crimson Tide had not lost in their last 22 games, including a win and a tie in Pasadena. They had finished first or tied for first in the Southern Conference three straight years.
The Tigers had not beaten Bama since 1909 although they earned a 7-7 tie in 1921. An "army of fans" traveled by special train and automobile from Louisiana to The Magic City. The game attracted national attention, as attested by the fact that reporters and fans from around the South and beyond were in attendance.
Mike Donahue's fifth LSU squad was 2-0 after routing Louisiana Tech 45-0 and South­western Louisiana 52-0. Donahue, "known for 20 years as the rough-smashing linedriver of Southern football," reportedly had developed a passing attack to dam the Tide, including "a brand new lineup never seen in action before." He had held closed practices for three weeks to perfect the new approach. The Tigers were one of the few teams that could match Alabama's bulk in the line.
Coach Wade's offense was centered around the line smashing of his 195lb FB Tony Holm. 165lb Archie Taylor, "his broken field runner," provided an alternate approach. Wade himself had scouted the Tigers in their drubbing of SLI.

L-R: Wallace Wade, Mike Donahue, Tony Holm
As it turned out, the weather overrode the best laid plans of the coaches. Drenching rains during the night and morning, the first that Birmingham had seen in more than a month, turned the playing field into a slippery morass that crippled the offenses of both teams. To make matters worse, a slow, drizzling rain continued throughout the game, drenching the 12,000 fans in attendance. LSU may have been hurt more by the conditions because Don­ahue had to shelve his passing strategy.
Years later, sportswriter Mickey McCann gave this account of Donahue's talk to his team in the dressing room before the kickoff. "I have just finished talking with Wallace Wade, and we both agreed that Alabama is four touchdowns better than you fellows. But that doesn't mean that you are licked before you start. I like my teams to go into a ball game behind. If they can fight, they can come from behind. I believe you fellows are good enough scrappers to spot Alabama four touchdowns and still lick them. Now go get 'em."
Not surprisingly in the soggy conditions, the entire first quarter and much of the second devolved into a punting exchange, with LSU's Charlie Mason generally getting the better of the exchange. At one point, the rain poured so hard the spectators had difficulty seeing the action. Almost the entire first period was played in Bama's half of the gridiron. The Tide's hopes dimmed when Taylor was carried from the field in the second quarter, badly injured. The half ended scoreless.

L-R: Charlie Mason, Johnny Mack Brown, Babe Godfrey, Jess Tinsley
Both teams came out with new jerseys. Bama finally reached LSU territory midway through the period when senior HB Johnny Mack Brown, the MVP of the 1926 Rose Bowl, intercepted Babe Godfrey's pass and ran to the LSU 40. Soon the Tide were at the LSU 24 on a pass from Graham McClintock to Brown. Alabama faced fourth and two at the 16 when the quarter ended.
The Crimson Tide would spend almost the entire 15 minutes in LSU territory, which included the muddy baseball infield where backs had a tough time gaining traction. But the intrepid Tigers, led by T Jess Tinsley, repelled every thrust. On the first play, Holm drove into the center of the line but was hurled back by "Fatz" Wilson 1y short of the first down mark to turn the ball over. After Mason's second down punt, Bama was back in business at the Tiger 45. To make matters worse, LSU was penalized 15y when Paul Morgan from Elba AL "talked before the first play."
Three runs gave the Tide a first down on the Tiger 12. With Alva "Brute" Huffman and Wilson pounding him all game long, the groggy Bama center hiked the ball badly for an 18y loss. Two passes to Brown gained 15y but that wasn't enough for a first down, and LSU took over on its four.

L-R: Fatz Wilson, Paul Morgan, Alva Huffman
Taking no chances, Mason immediately punted from his end zone, a magnificent effort to the Bama 47. The pattern continued with the Tigers stopping the Tide and Mason booting it back on first down. A second bad snap cost Bama a 16y loss to force another kick. This time, Mason fielded the ball on his ten and broke through the coverage for 18y to give the Tigers some breathing room. They would need all of it.
Brown continued to be the Tide's best weapon when they got the ball back. He caught a pass for 23y to the 18, Mason bringing him down with no one else between the Bama star and the goal line. But the Tigers drew the line again and, with Alabama not considering a field goal, took over on downs again at the 10. Following the rules of the day, LSU called timeout to make a substitution. But they were out of times to put the pigskin on the five.
You'd think LSU would run three plays to use up some time, but Mason again chose to punt out of danger, this time just out of reach of the charging Tide tackles to the LSU 42. Bama could not advance and the game ended after two more punts.
After being shutout for the first time in 31 games, the Alabama players were as crestfallen after the game as if they had lost. They lost four of their remaining seven games to finish 5-4-1.
Back in Baton Rouge, LSU officials were so happy with the outcome that they voided Donahue's contract, which still had a year to run, and gave him a new six-year pact worth $10,000 per season.