Tiger Den Archives – XIII

Memorable Game: 1934 SMU @ LSU
Fred Digby, writing in the New Orleans Item-Tribune on October 7, 1934, called it "one of the most spectacular football games ever played." He was referring to the LSU-SMU game in Tiger Stadium the night before.

"Biff" Jones's third Tiger contingent began their schedule with the two toughest teams in the Southwest Conference.

  • They tied Rice 9-9 in Houston. Led by junior TB Abe Mickal, the Tigers rallied from a 9-0 deficit with eight minutes to play. First, Mickal quick-kicked to the Rice one. With what today would be called a "two-score lead," the Owls took a safety to get a free kick.
  • But the strategy backfired when J. T. "Rock" Reed returned the placement kick 42y to the 23. After running twice for a first down, Abe completed a pass to FB Bert Yates to the five. Two plays later, Ernest Seago smashed his way into the end zone. Mickal split the uprights to tie the score.
  • Neither team got close enough the rest of the way to try a field goal.
    Ibrahim Khalil "Abe" Mickal was born in what is now Lebanon and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1920. They settled in McComb MS where he played football, baseball, basketball, and ran track. LSU and Notre Dame both recruited him, but he ultimately chose the Tigers after the death of Knute Rockne in a plane crash. Abe became a charter member of the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1937. He earned a medical degree and served as head professor of the LSU Medical School OB/GYN department for over 20 years.

As coach Jones prepared his team to host SMU the following Saturday night, Senator Huey Long intervened on behalf of his beloved Tigers.

  • LSU Athletic Director T. P. Heard had guaranteed SMU $10,000 to bring their famous "aerial circus" to Baton Rouge. But his plan was being thwarted by a traditional circus.
  • When Long called Heard on Tuesday to ask how ticket sales were going, Heard replied, "Not too good, Senator. They've got a circus scheduled Saturday night, and the conflict seems to be hurting the advance (sales)."
  • Later that day, Long asked to see the advance man for the circus and startled his visitor with a question. "Did you ever dip a lion? Or better yet, an elephant." With the visitor in stupefied silence, Huey explained, "We have laws in this state. And the way I interpret them, every one of your animals will have to be dipped before they can cross the state line. We can't take any chances with disease."
  • The circus representative called his boss, John Ringling North, and relayed what Long said. Not wishing to call Huey's bluff, North cancelled the circus appearance in Baton Rouge.
  • 15,000 fans, more than enough to cover Heard's guarantee, gathered in Tiger Stadium for the 8:15 kickoff.

So the only circus in town that Saturday night was SMU's "aerial circus."

  • Head coach, Ray Morrison, was known as "the father of the forward pass."
  • His radical idea was to pass on first and second down and not just wait for third-and-long to put the ball in the air. With their "intricate forward laterals and backward passes," the boys from Dallas would provide a stern test for the formidable LSU defense.
  • The Mustangs threw two full elevens of almost equal strength against the Bengals, who alternated two units themselves.
  • SMU won their first two games by identical 33-0 scores over North Texas State Teachers College and Austin College.

L-R: Abe Mickal, Bobby Wilson, Jesse Fatherree, J. R. Smith
The Mustangs struck first.
  • The wide open SMU offense seemed to have the LSU defense guessing as the Ponies hit at a different spot on every play. Running more than passing, they drove 54y to the end zone on their first possession. Tiny all-conference TB Bobby Wilson "slung an underhand pass" for a 5y, then followed that with "a sensational forward lateral" to Maco Stewart to the LSU 25. The touchdown came from the 14 when "Wilson slipped around right end but cut back sharply and raced for a touchdown." The PAT, which was not automatic in those days, made it 7-0.
    LSU didn't gain a first down until the last minutes of the period. And it was the second team, substituted en masse, who achieved it.
  • If the Mustangs dominated the first period, the Tigers prevailed in the second, tying the score. After Bert Yates ran back an SMU punt 20y, the first string drove 46y to tie the score as "the LSU stands went into a frenzied cheering session urging the Tigers to 'go to town.'" After three runs to the 32, the touchdown came suddenly when Mickal passed to E Jeff Barrett "and the brilliant Tiger terminal twisted out of the SMU safety man's hands" and continued to the end zone. Mickal booted the tying PAT.
  • The teams continued sparring during the first minutes of the third quarter until SMU recovered a fumble on the LSU 32. On fourth down from the 19, J. R. "Jack Rabbit" Smith's pass into the end zone fell incomplete, but LSU was called for interference, putting the ball on the nine. Led by E Gaynell Tinsley, the Tigers pushed the Mustangs backwards, and they ran out of downs on the 26. They soon were knocking on the door again until E Marvin "Moose" Stewart intercepted a pass on the 14.
  • The final period began with Mickal punting from his end zone. Three Mustangs poured through and blocked the kick, but Mickal recovered at the two. Fortunately, that happened on third down. So Abe was able to try it again, getting this one away to Wilson, who returned 15y to the LSU 35.
    Mustang passes, not as effective as expected earlier in the game, began to click. But another interception, this one by Jesse Fatherree at the 11, stopped the onslaught. But it was only a temporary respite. Mickal punted on first down, putting the Mustangs back in business at the LSU 39. This time they would not be denied. Smith connected with Stewart three times for 16, six, and eight yards, the last one scoring the go-ahead touchdown.
    Jesse Fatherree returned the kickoff 26y to the 45 on a "spectacular run." He then caught a Mickal pass, delivered on the dead run, for 17y into SMU territory. But just as the crowd began looking forward to a tie game, Wilson intercepted Mickal's next pass. The Tigers forced a three-and-out to set up another excellent special teams play as Joe Lawrie returned the punt 26y to the SMU 49. But the Tigers couldn't get a single first down. However, the Mustangs couldn't either and punted to the LSU 28 with four minutes to play. With coaches able to make only one substitution unless they called timeout, Jones sent in senior Walter Sullivan at end.
    The next play lives on as one of the most spectacular in LSU annals. Mickal dropped back and turned loose a long throw that traveled 42y into the hands of Sullivan racing by the SMU safety. The pride of Hazlehurst MS sprinted across the goal. Mickal kicked his 17th straight PAT over a two-year period to tie the game. "The LSU stands went wild and hurled cushions and programs in the air in a shower."
    The Tigers got one last shot at victory when they stopped the Mustangs and took over on the SMU 47. Abe threw a long pass that Fatherree "barely missed," then tried another that Barrett "barely missed."


"Biff" Jones

"Rock" Reed

Bert Yates

Ernest Seago

Ray Morrison

Jeff Barrett

Gaynell Tinsley

"Moose" Stewart

Joe Lawrie

Walter Sullivan
1935 LSU @ Arkansas
Eight-Play Goal Line Stand Saves the Game
The Tigers and Razorbacks played every year from 1906 through 1936 at Shreveport with the exception of the World War I year of 1918.

The 1935 season started with a new coach at LSU.

  • Third-year coach Biff Jones had abruptly resigned at halftime of the 1934 finale against Oregon because of the meddling of Senator (and former governor) Huey Long.
  • Huey, who still ran LSU even though he had a full-time job in Washington, had his eyes set on Alabama coach Frank Thomas as Jones' replacement, offering the staggering sum of $15,000 a year, $6,000 more than Thomas was making in Tuscaloosa. But after talking to Jones, Frank declined the offer.
  • So LSU promoted six-year assistant Bernie Moore. With many seniors returning for what Jones had expected to be his best team, Moore was seen as someone who would keep Biff's systems in place. The players heartily approved the choice as did Jones.
  • Moore has been described as "an easy-going, friendly man, with a sharp mind which sometimes fooled those who judged him by his drawl and his slow movements."

As the Tigers prepared for their September 28 opener against Rice, the entire nation was shocked by an event in Baton Rouge.

  • Long spent September 8 at the legislative session at the State Capitol.
  • As Huey walked down the corridor surrounded by body guards, Dr. Carl Weiss shot the senator at close range in the abdomen. The body guards immediately shot and killed Weiss.
  • Long died two days later.

So Moore's first squad started the season September 28 in mourning for their biggest fan.

  • Rice came to Tiger Stadium and left with a 10-7 upset win.
  • The Tigers rebounded the next week to beat Texas 18-6.
  • Then they traveled to New York where they defeated Manhattan College at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn 32-0. Read about that game ...

That set the stage for the 30th game between the Hogs of the Southwest Conference and the Tigers of the Southeastern Conference, which had gained a reputation as the pass-happiest league in the country.

  • LSU led the series 17-13, including the last six five in a row.
  • Arkansas sported the opposite record from the Tigers, winning their opener 12-0 over Pittsburgh State, then losing Southwest Conference games to TCU 13-7 and Baylor 13-6.
  • Moore dismissed the fact that the Tigers were favorites. "The Razorbacks are always dangerous and play their best against the Tigers when doped to lose by many points."
  • LSU was considered the more powerful rushing team while Arkansas's best hope of moving the ball came from its air attack, led by triple-threat sophomore TB Jack Robbins.
  • Coach Fred Thomsen, in his seventh season as Razorback head man, ran a deceptive "spread formation."

The annual game marked the opening of the Louisiana State Fair.

  • The Razorbacks came down to Shreveport Friday and worked out at the State Fair field.
  • LSU's 41-man squad arrived late Friday night for the 2:30 PM contest.
  • Approximately 1000 fans traveled from the Baton Rouge area in two special trains and by automobile.
  • The "big" LSU band, under the direction of Castro Carazo, Huey Long's personal choice as director, made the trip and would participate in a parade through Shreveport to the LSU headquarters hotel as well as a pep meeting at noon Saturday.

10,000 fans saw an exciting game in which the outcome was in doubt literally to the last play.

1st Quarter

  • The opening coin toss shows how different 1935 football was from today. Arkansas won the toss and chose to defend the north end zone with the wind at their backs. Yet LSU elected to kickoff.
  • An innocuous 2y run around LE on 2nd down for Arkansas made a difference in the game because LSU's junior E Gaynell Tinsley was hit in the face on the play and left the game with a broken nose. As was common in those days, the Hogs punted on 3rd down, Rock Reed returning 5y to the LSU 30.
    Tinsley was an outstanding pass rusher as well as a run defender. He would be sorely missed against Arkansas's aerial attack.
  • The Tigers gained only 1y on two running plays. So Bill Crass tried to punt, but the kick hit one of his own linemen, Arkansas recovering on the 39. On 2nd down, TB Jack Robbins passed to Allen Keen, "a lightweight speed demon," for the initial first down of the game at the LSU 28. On 3rd-and-8, Robbins took to the air again, but Joe Lawrie intercepted and returned 5y to the LSU 22.
  • The game descended into a punting duel, with most of the kicks on 3rd down. Late in the period, the Tigers found themselves on their own 12. Aided by an offside penalty, LSU finally gained a 1st down.
  • As the quarter came to a close, Moore sent in his "touchdown team" led by TB Abe Mickal. The rest of the background consisted of Ernest Seago, sophomore Pinky Rohm, and Slick Morton.
    End Q1: LSU 0 Arkansas 0

2nd Quarter

  • Mickal showed his own kicking ability. On 2nd down at the LSU 30, Abe boomed a kick that came within a whisker of stopping on the Arkansas 1' line before becoming a touchback.
  • A few minutes later, Morton fielded a punt on the LSU 35 and returned it to the Arkansas 27 where he fumbled the ball back to the Razorbacks. Three plays later, Morton chased a punt that sailed over his head, picked it up on the six, and returned only 4y.
  • LSU got out of the hole on the very first play. Mickal faked a punt and flipped a short pass over the middle to Rohm, who weaved 45y to the AU 45. But the drive bogged down and Abe punted out of bounds on the one. Robbins took his turn in the punting duel, kicking the hot potato back to the Tiger 49.
  • A few minutes later, LSU finally made another first down on a Mickal-to-Jeff Barrett connection to the LSU 46. Abe then zipped 13y to move the chains again. However, a holding penalty soon stopped the momentum.
  • After another exchange of punts, LSU made the deepest penetration of either team when Pat Coffee, the pride of Minden LA, threw a long pass to Jesse Fatherree to the UA 12. But the Hogs rose up and forced a field goal attempt that Seago missed in the last minute of the half.
    LSU held Arkansas without a first down in the second quarter.
    End Q2: LSU 0 Arkansas 0

J. T. "Rock" Reed

Joe Lawrie

Abe Mickal

Charles "Pinky" Rohm

3rd Quarter
  • Moore, who had played a large number of players in the first half, started his first string as LSU had to kickoff again. After stopping UA, the Tigers made a first down on their first play when Reed raced around left end to the UA 47. But a fumble turned the ball over.
  • When the Tigers got the ball back on a punt, they marched 55y to pay dirt. Runs by Fatherree (for eight) and Crass (for two) got a first down. Then on 3rd down Crass threw to Fatherree, who held onto the ball as two defenders hit him, for another 1st down. On 3rd down, Fatherree's pass to sophomore E Bernie Dumas at the four fell incomplete, but the umpire ruled interference, giving LSU a 1st down on the two. Crass rammed over center into the end zone, then kicked the PAT. LSU 7 Arkansas 0
  • LSU didn't enjoy the lead for long. In the last minutes of the period, the Razorbacks mounted a lightning-strike three-play tying drive from their 32. After a 4y run, a 23y pass from Robbins to lanky J. L. Howell to the LSU 41. Then lightning struck the Tigers as Robbins connected with H. L. Poole, who lateralled to Keen who scampered untouched the final 20y to the end zone. G Savoy Seamster kicked the tying point. LSU 7 Arkansas 7

Ernest Seago

Pat Coffee

Arthur "Slick" Morton

Bernie Dumas

4th Quarter
  • The "second stringers" started for LSU with Coffee in place of Mickal and Bill May (from El Dorado AK) for Seago to team with Morton and Rohm.
  • LSU got a break in the first minutes when Robbins fumbled the snap on a punt and was tackled on the 30. Facing 4th-and-one a minute later, Coffee hit the center of the line for 2y and a 1st down on the 19. Three plays later, Rohm took the handoff on a reverse around right end but, seeing too many red jerseys, turned around, shook off three would-be tacklers on the 10, and continued standing up into the end zone. Seago's PAT try sailed wide. LSU 13 Arkansas 7

Rohm scores the go-ahead touchdown.
  • It took the Hogs only three plays to reach LSU territory. After Robbins returned the short kick to the 41, Arkansas gained a 1st down on three runs to the Tiger 47. Robbins then fired to Howell to the 30. But on the next play, Seago leapt high into the air to intercept a pass on the 23.
  • But the Razorbacks were soon back in business again after a pass from Robbins to Keen, who reversed his field to the 14 where Morton brought him down. Robbins gained two, then threw to Billy Hunter for a 1st down on the four.
  • Now came an eight-play sequence that preserved the lead for LSU. After an incompletion in the end zone and two runs that netted -3y, the Tigers seemed to have stopped the advance on an incompletion in the end zone. But the officials ruled pass interference on the three. After an LSU timeout, two runs netted a loss of 6y. Then T Marvin Stewart batted down a pass intended for Keen, followed by Morton doing the same on the 4th-down throw.
  • The Tigers were not out of the woods yet. They needed to get the ball out of their territory. After three runs, Mickal punted to Keen, who returned 19y to the 44. To make matters worse, a roughness penalty from the spot of the foul put the ball on the 17 with less than a minute left. But on the next play, Fatherree intercepted Robbins and returned 10y before lateralling to Mickal, who ran fivemore as the game ended.


  • The opening loss to Rice would be LSU's only blemish in the regular season.
  • Their 5-0 conference record would give them the SEC championship.
  • The rock-ribbed defense pitched five shutouts, including the final three regular season games.
  • Gaynell Tinsley made All-America.
  • The season ended with LSU's first bowl appearance, a 3-2 loss to TCU in the Sugar Bowl.

Biff Jones

Huey Long

Bernie Moore



Jack Robbins

Fred Thomsen

Gaynell Tinsley

Bill Crass

Jesse Fatherree

Bill May

Marvin Stewart
LSU vs the Mannings 1: 1968-69

LSU faced two of the three QBs of the Manning family.

  • They faced Archie three times.
  • They met Eli three times.
  • They never played against Peyton. Tennessee was in the East Division of the SEC and did not play LSU during his four years in Knoxville.

Since freshmen were ineligible for varsity competition, the Tigers faced Archie Manning in 1968-69-70.


  • The Tigers entered the Ole Miss game November 2 in Baton Rouge with a 5-1 record and #14 ranking in the AP poll. The Rebels were 4-2 after being belted by Houston 29-7 in Jackson the week before.
  • Manning suffered severe rib bruises against the Cougars, but the injury would not stop him from competing against the Tigers. The "brilliant sophomore" had been the key to the Rebels attack all season, hitting 63 of 142 passes for five touchdowns and 787y. He also rushed for a net of 205y for a fine 165.3ypg total offense average.

The seesaw battle saw the lead change hands three times in the final period.

  • After the teams exchanged field goals in Q1, the Tigers scored two Q2 touchdowns on a 4y run by Trigger Allen and a 30y pass from Mike Hillman to HB Glenn Smith.
  • But with his ribs heavily taped, Archie cut the 14-point deficit in half on the first play after the kickoff with a 65y pass to Floyd Franks when defenders Gerry Kent and Jimmy Lambert bumped into each other at the Tiger 25. The first half ended with LSU in front 17-10.
  • Ole Miss tied the game in the third period after CB Glenn Cannon (Billy's second cousin) grabbed one of his three INTs for the evening and returned 36y to the two. Manning rolled out from there and scored easily.
  • Early in Q4, the Rebs moved from their 20 to a 24y field goal by Van Brown to take the lead 20-17.
  • The Tigers got a break when Don Addison picked off a Manning aerial at the Reb 43. LSU marched from there to take the lead with 3:37 left on FB Kenny Newfield's 11y scamper. The PAT made it 24-20.
  • HB Bo Bowen began Ole Miss's possession by gaining 17y on a draw play to the 41. Manning then hit Leon Felts for 22. Then he hit Franks for another 22 to the 21. The Archie flipped to TE Hank Shows to the eight. With everyone in Tiger Stadium on their feet, after TB Steve Hindman lost one, Manning made a speech in the huddle, spelling out what each receiver should do on the next play. He then rolled left and drilled the ball through two LSU defenders (one of whom got his hands on the ball) into the arms of Hindman, who bobbled the ball at the five but gained control and stumbled backward into the end zone clutching the ball to his shoulder with 55 seconds left. Final score: Ole Miss 27 LSU 24
  • Archie finished the evening completing 24 of 40 passes for 345y.
  • Coach McClendon praised the Ole Miss quarterback: "That boy has as good a delivery as any quarterback I've ever seen."
  • Henry Lee Parker, a scout for the Saints, said: "I'd like to have him right now."


The Tigers met Ole Miss November 1 in Jackson in a nationally-televised game on ABC.

  • #8 LSU was undefeated after six games. The unranked Rebels were just 3-3. One of the losses was a 33-32 thriller against Alabama in one of the first Saturday night games on national TV. Manning was so effective in a losing cause that he earned national Back of the Week honors.
  • The Tigers had not beaten the Rebs since 1964 when a last-second touchdown pass and two-point conversion pulled out an 11-10 victory.
  • LSU coach Charlie McClendon said, "We will have to slow Manning down if we expect to win. You don't stop Manning."

The game was in many ways a carbon copy of the '68 clash.

  • The Tigers opened the scoring after DB Tommy Casanova intercepted a Manning pass at the Rebel 37 to set up a four-play drive that culminated in QB Jimmy Gilbert diving over from the one.
  • Ole Miss responded with a 70y drive to score on Manning's 5y run early in Q2. But the missed PAT kept them behind 7-6.
  • LSU extended the lead to four on a 36y field goal by Mark Lumpkin.
  • But the Rebels drove 80y to take the lead. Archie threw six straight strikes, the final one to Vernon Studdard in the end zone from the nine. The Tigers hauled down Manning short of the goal line in his attempt at a two-point conversion. Ole Miss 12 LSU 10
  • LSU answered back with another field goal, this one a 30-yarder. LSU 13 Ole Miss 12
  • The Bengals got a break on the next scrimmage play when Manning fumbled, and Jerry Kober recovered on the 19. But the offense could convert the break into just another field goal. LSU 16 Ole Miss 12 at halftime
  • Craig Burns gave LSU a good start by returning the second half kickoff 32y to the Tiger 37. A few plays later, QB Mike Hillman hit WR Andy Hamilton with a 32y touchdown pass. LSU 23 Ole Miss 12
  • The Rebels roared right back for their third touchdown. Leon Fels keyed the drive with a 25y dash on which six Bengals missed him. Then Archie came up with a crucial third down completion to Studdard with a 26y pass to the six. It took three plays but Manning scored. LSU 23 Ole Miss 18
  • Late in Q3, Hillman fumbled, and Larry Thomas recovered for Ole Miss at the Tiger 22. Manning overcame a 15y penalty by completing three passes to the one, from where Archie scored again. This time the two-point conversion succeeded: Ole Miss 26 LSU 23
  • The Rebel defense contained the Tiger offense until the final minutes when LSU moved from their 20 to the Ole Miss 23. Hillman started the drive with a 16y pitch to E Bill Stober and followed with a 15y toss to SE Lonny Myles. The senior from Lockport stayed hot, finding Stober again two 12y gains to the 23. But after a draw to FB Eddie Ray gained only two, Hillman missed on three straight passes.
  • Manning's passing numbers: 22-of-36, 210y, 1 touchdown, 1 INT. He also rushed for three touchdowns.

Continued below ...

Archie Manning passes.

Bart Frye (32), Mike Anderson (45) tackle the ball carrier as Dave Williams (93) comes up to help.

Steve Hindman scores the winning
touchdown as Gerry Kent tackles him.


Tommy Casanova returns INT.

QB Buddy Lee runs.

LSU vs the Mannings 2: 1970


Before the season began, ABC television moved the LSU-Ole Miss game to December 5 to show it in prime time nationwide.

  • The decision proved to be beneficial. The game would decide the SEC championship since LSU, 8-2 overall, was 4-0 in the conference and Ole Miss was 4-1. The Rebels, 7-2, had already accepted a bid to the Gator Bowl while a victory would put the Tigers in the Orange Bowl.
  • Ole Miss QB Archie Manning was looking to complete a trifecta and finish his college career 3-0 against archrival LSU. But it would be difficult. Archie's senior season, one in which he was the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, had been marred by a broken left arm suffered against Houston November 7.
  • Archie returned for the LSU game with his left arm in a cast.

67,500 saw the Tigers gain one of the most spectacular victories in school history.

Quarter 1

  • Ole Miss broke out on top early as LSU fumbled, and the Rebels recovered on the 22. Manning led a four-play drive that ended with a 9y touchdown pass to TE Jim Poole.
    LSU QB Buddy Lee connected with Gerald Keigley for 45y to the 15. But Lee fumbled the next snap, and Ole Miss recovered.
    But the Tigers got the ball back when S Craig Burns intercepted a long Manning pass. Sophomore Bert Jones took over under center and hit WR Jimmy LeDoux over the middle for a 20y touchdown.
    Ole Miss 7 LSU 7

Quarter 2

  • An interception of a Jones pass and return to the LSU nine allowed the Rebels to regain the lead on a 22y field goal.
    The rest of the half belonged to the Tigers. Andy Hamilton put them on top for good when he snagged a 46y pass from Lee to culminate a 75y drive.
    "Shug" Chumbler took over for Manning but couldn't move the Rebels.
    After multiple punts, Tommy Casanova returned a punt untouched 61y to the end zone.
    In the final minutes, Ole Miss took over on its seven after a punt. DT Ronnie Estay chased Manning into the end zone and dragged him down for a safety.
    LSU 23 Ole Miss 10

Quarter 3

  • LSU's first possession saw Lee fire a 45y bomb to Hamilton. But the drive sputtered inside the five. So Mark Lumpkin booted a 24y field goal.
    Soon after, Craig Burns fielded a punt on the bounce at the LSU 39 and ran untouched behind a wall of blockers to pay dirt.
    Chumbler led a 63y march, sneaking the final 3y himself.
    LSU 33 Ole Miss 17

Quarter 4

  • TB Art Cantrelle exploded through left tackle for a 55y touchdown, breaking Steve Van Buren's single season LSU rushing yardage record in the process.
    LSU kept pouring it on the hapless Rebels with three more touchdowns.
    Jones hit TE Ken Kavanaugh from the 13.
    Casanova returned a punt 74y as LSU tied an NCAA record with three punt returns.
    Jimmy LeDoux scored on a 9y run.

LSU outgained the Rebels 505-194 and had a 27-10 edge in first downs.
There was great satisfaction in trouncing the Rebs, but the triumph was tinged with sadness at the great Ole Miss quarterback's bad luck season.

Continued below...

Archie Manning with his left arm in a cast

Del Walker totes the leather.

Ken Kavanaugh catches touchdown pass.

LSU vs the Mannings 3: 2001
Peyton Manning never faced LSU in his four years at Tennessee. But his younger brother Eli faced the Tigers three times at Ole Miss. Eli played sparingly as a freshman in 2000 and didn't take a snap against LSU. Both Mannings were graduates of Newman High School in New Orleans.


Nick Saban's second LSU team was 4-2 as they prepared to host the Rebels.

  • The Tigers were coming off a 42-0 thrashing of Mississippi State in Starkville.
  • Ole Miss came in at 5-1, with the only loss at Auburn in Week 2.
  • Scott Rabalais wrote in The Advocate: "The rivalry is back. ... This is the most anticipated LSU-Ole Miss game of a generation. ... Whom else do LSU fans invite to go to hell with such gusto? Whom else tells them to go to hell right back?"

The game pitted one of the best receivers in the nation against the country's #1 pass defense

  • LSU junior Josh Reed ranked second in the nation in receiving yards per game: 42 receptions for 813y. The vast majority of the gains came on passes from senior QB Rohan Davey.
  • The Rebel secondary was led by CB Syniker Taylor (3 INTs).
  • Eli Manning had completed 130 out of 199 (65.3%) for 1,655, 14 touchdowns, and only 1 INT.
  • Archie's younger son profited from the tutelage of Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe, who had been Tennessee's offensive coordinator when Peyton played there. In fact, it was widely believed that Cutcliffe was hired as Rebels head man in the hope that he would recruit Eli to his father's alma mater.

91,941, the second largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history, saw the Rebels come from behind in the final period to snatch the victory.

Quarter 1

  • When Ole Miss received a punt after forcing a three-and-out, Coach Cutcliffe called three straight passes for Eli. He completed two of them for 12y, but that wasn't enough to overcome a 5y penalty.
    LSU's game plan was to run the ball as much as possible to keep Eli on the sidelines. On their second possession, Domanick Davis ran for 9 and 4y to move the chains, but three plays later, Matt Grier intercepted Rohan Davey's pass and returned it 7y.
    The Rebels moved 36y in seven plays for the game's first touchdown. Eli accounted for 30y on two completions and a 2y run from the pocket. Toward Sanders got the final yard. Ole Miss 7 LSU 0 (6:41)
    The Tigers answered with a 13-play march that resulted in a field goal. LaBrandon Toefield alternated with Davis at tailback, and the two combined for 63 of the 71y. When Davey was sacked on third down, John Corbello booted a 26y field goal. Ole Miss 7 LSU 3 (1:40)
    The Tigers' chances were dampened when Toefield reinjured his ankle and sat out the rest of the game.
    Ole Miss 7 LSU 3

Quarter 2

  • After an exchange of punts, CB Randall Gay intercepted Manning's pass at the Ole Miss 45. LSU took advantage of the break to take the lead. Davey completed a pass to Davis for 20y, then hit WR Josh Reed for 19 more. On 2nd and seven, Davey ran out of the pocket for 8y and a first down at the 30. Two plays later, WR Michael Clayton took a reverse around the right side for a 29y touchdown. LSU 10 Ole Miss 7 (6:52)
    The Rebs moved steadily from their 20 to the LSU 30. But three straight completions brought up 4th and 10. Cutcliffe gave the OK to go for it. With a 5-to-10mph wind blowing in his face as well as a safety blitz pouring through a seam in the protection, Eli hit Bill Flowers for a 27y gain to the 3. One play later, Joe Gunn dove over from the one. Ole Miss 14 LSU 10 (2:25)
    "They have a tendency on big plays to blitz," said Manning, "I had a feeling they would come with pressure."
    Saban: "I think the biggest thing was the fourth-and-10. It was a real big play in the second quarter. We blitzed and had good pressure on the quarterback, and he just faded away from it and lollypopped it up there, and we did a poor job in coverage. He shouldn't be able to complete passes like that."
    Tiger fans booed LSU's next series, which consisted of three running plays that netted 5y, forcing a punt with 41.7 seconds left. But Travis Blanchard blocked the kick, and Rob Robertson covered the ball at the LSU 27. Three plays later, Manning hit Omar Rayford with an 8y touchdown pass with ten seconds left.
    LSU fans booed again as their team left the field.
    Ole Miss 21 LSU 10
    Saban took responsibility for LSU's conservative play-calling at the end of the half instead of going into a two-minute offense to try to score again. He said offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher agreed. "The thinking was the quarterback was struggling, so we wanted to get out of the half down 14-10 rather than going into two-minute at our own 30. Jimbo kind of felt, and I kind of felt, that Ro was kind of confused. Had we had the ball in a little better field position, we might have tried for something. But there's no excuse for getting the punt blocked."

Quarter 3

  • The Tigers had dominated third quarters during the season and did so again.
    The defense forced a three-and-out, and Davis returned the punt 71y for a touchdown. Ole Miss 21 LSU 17 (13:00)
    The Rebels went nowhere again, and the LSU offense took over at their 42 and drove to the Ole Miss 28 before bogging down. So Corbello tried a 46y field goal that missed.
    Ole Miss finally got a second half first down on Manning's 12y pass to Omar Rayford. Eli overcame a 5y penalty with a 12y scramble on 3rd and 7 to the LSU 45. But the Tigers drew the line there and received the punt on their 20.
    Aided by a 15y penalty on the Rebels, the Tigers took the lead. On 1st and 10 at the Rebel 29, Davey threw down the middle to Clayton, who made a falling, one-handed grab in the end zone. LSU 24 Ole Miss 21 (4:10) Watch the touchdown ...
    The Rebs drove across midfield to the LSU 38 when the quarter ended. Manning was 5-for-5 to three different receivers.
    LSU 24 Ole Miss 21

Quarter 4

  • Facing 4th-and-2 at the 34, the Rebels lined up to go for it but a presnap penalty changed their plans.
    Neither offense came close to threatening until Donnie Jones shanked a 23y punt with 7:31 left, giving Ole Miss a first down at the LSU 35. After Joe Gunn rushed twice for 22y, Manning hit Doug Zeigler on a well-designed drag pattern for a 17y touchdown. Ole Miss 28 LSU 24 (6:26)
    With plenty of time to regain the lead, Davis hit Reed for 35y to the Ole Miss 42. But Devery Henderson, in the game at TB with Davis also banged up, fumbled, and Lanier Goethie recovered for Ole Miss on their 42.
    Smelling blood, the Rebels drove to the clinching touchdown. Gunn tore up the middle for 38y to the LSU 20. Two plays later, Eli threw to Charles Stackhouse for 8y to the 11. On 3rd and 1, the Tigers needed a stop for force a field goal and keep the lead at one score. But Stackhouse gained three, then three more. On 3rd & 4 at the 4, Manning found Doug Zeigler in the end zone. Ole Miss 35 LSU 24 (2:26)
    Davey hit Reed for 23y to the Rebel 32. But the Tigers' flickering hopes were snuffed on the next play when Rohan fumbled.

L-R: Donnie Jones, Devery Henderson, Charles Stackhouse

LSU Postgame

  • The Tigers entered the game as the most efficient team in the SEC on third-down conversions but went only 2-for-12 against Ole Miss, which ranked second in the conference in defensing third down conversions.
  • The loss was LSU's first under Saban in 10 games in which the Tigers led going into Q4. Nick: "Obviously we're very disappointed, and I know our players are very disappointed. I don't think we played a very good football game today. We made a lot of errors and mistakes, had turnovers that led to, probably, 21 points in the game." He added, "We're going to continue to try and focus to improve our team. This is going to be a real character check as to the kind of pride they have for the rest of the season."
  • Davey completed only 9 of 23 passes for a season-worst 183y. "They didn't do nothing to confuse me," said Rohan. "I just played awful tonight. I put us in situations we shouldn't have been in. In the second half, the first three or four times we had the ball we went three-and-out, and we can't have that."

Ole Miss Postgame

  • Manning completed 28-of-44 passes for 249y and three touchdowns. As he left the field victorious, he was greeted by his parents, Archie and Olivia, and his two brothers - Cooper, who had his football career at Ole Miss short-circuited by a serious injury, and Peyton, who happened to have an off week with the Indianapolis Colts.
  • Coach Cutcliffe on Manning: "He's not your average sophomore player. He's a guy who's focused and poised. When you are prepared, you don't have time to be nervous. You just play your game. He's a battler and a real tough competitor."
  • Eli told the press, "It's special to have my whole family here. I've been to several of Peyton's games and seen him celebrating after games. It's fun to have him here, to have him supporting me. Playing LSU wasn't a big deal just being from Louisiana. It wasn't any added pressure or any bigger than what it was. It's special to come to Baton Rouge and get an opportunity to play here. Talking to Peyton, he never got a chance to play here. So he was excited to come here and watch us play. It's a special stadium. There's a lot of tradition here. The fans are loud and great. It was special to come here and have an opportunity to play here. It was fun to get a win here also."
After the loss to Ole Miss, Rabalais wrote: "The new coach honeymoon is officially over. To Saban's credit it seemed he realized that by taking responsibility for the loss. 'I don't think anybody in this organization did a good job this week, and that starts with me,' Saban said. You won't find an argument in this town, Nick. ... At 4-3, the Tigers will have just a scant few days to bandage their wounds before hitting the road to play Alabama."
LSU was 2-3 in the conference, and no three-loss team had ever made the SEC title game. But the impossible happened. The Tigers won their last four games (three in the conference), including a December 1 game against Auburn that had been postponed by 9/11. The victory tied LSU with Auburn, giving the Tigers the West Division spot in the championship game. They upset East king Tennessee the following week to win the SEC and take the host spot in the Sugar Bowl.

Continued below...

Eli Manning

Nick Saban

Josh Reed

Rohan Davey

David Cutcliffe

Domanick Davis

LaBrandon Toefield

John Corbello

Randall Gay

Michael Clayton

Jimbo Fisher

LSU vs the Mannings 4: 2002


Despite two disappointing conference losses going into Game 11 vs the Ole Miss Rebels, LSU (7-3) still controlled its own destiny if they were to defend their SEC championship from 2001.

  • Auburn belted the Tigers 31-7 on the Plains. Then the Bengals survived a visit to Kentucky thanks to the Bluegrass Miracle.
  • Despite Coach Nick Saban's constant urging all week to "move on," the Tigers were no match for #10 Alabama in Tiger Stadium the next week. The Tide embarrassed the the home team 31-0.
  • Yet LSU, ranked #21, still led the SEC West by one game with a 4-2 conference record.
  • The Tigers had suffered a major setback when junior QB Matt Mauck suffered a season-ending injury against Florida in Game 6.
  • Sophomore Marcus Randall started the next four games, completing 41-of-81 (50.6%) with 4 INTs and only 3 touchdowns.
  • After scoring at least 31 points in each of Mauck's last five games as a starter, the Tigers had been held to 7 by Auburn and shut out by Bama.

The Rebels (5-5) had lost four in a row as they came to Baton Rouge for the second year in a row thanks to a change in the SEC scheduling algorithm.

  • Ole Miss needed one more win to become bowl eligible.
  • The visitors from Oxford were hoping to record their fourth straight victory in Tiger Stadium, including the 35-24 comeback win the year before.
  • Junior QB Eli Manning was having an outstanding season: 219-for-317 (69.1%) for 2,663y with 17 touchdowns and 11 INTs.
  • However, the Rebels had the SEC's worst ground game- just 102.3ypg.

91,603 gathered on a chilly evening to watch another humdinger between the ancient rivals.

Quarter 1

  • LSU QB Rick Clausen, making the first start of his career, had his second pass intercepted by S Von Hutchins to give Ole Miss the ball on the Tiger 40. The Rebels made a first down on the first play, a pass from Eli Manning to WR Taye Biddle for 12y. But the defense stiffened. So Jonathan Nichols booted a 36y field goal. Ole Miss 3 LSU 0 (8:22)
    Later in the period, Manning completed three straight passes for 27y. But when he tried to go up top to Chris Collins, the ball landed in the hands of CB Corey Webster, who had inside position on the receiver.
    Ole Miss 3 LSU 0

L-R: Rick Clausen, Corey Webster, Marcus randall, LaBrandon Toefield, Jimbo Fisher
Quarter 2
  • With Clauson struggling (2-for-6 for 9y with 1 INT and 0 touchdowns), Marcus Randall relieved him. He led the Tigers deep into Ole Miss territory before RB LaBrandon Toefield fumbled the ball away on the 14.
    Manning then led a relentless drive deep into LSU territory. On 3rd-and-3 from the 20, Eli hit WR Mike Espy for a first down, but Espy broke tackles by CB Demetrius Hookfin and MLB Bradie James to continue to the end zone. Ole Miss 10 LSU 0 (1:02)
    With Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher calling for the no-huddle, spread attack, the LSU offense, dormant for the whole half, roared downfield for a touchdown. Randall slipped but regained his footing and hit WR Jerel Myers on a down and out for 17y to the 41. On third-and-six, Marcus found TB Domanick Davis for 8y to the Rebel 47. Staying hot, Randall connected with WR Michael Clayton over the middle for 15, then with Davis for 13 more to the19. With time running out, Randall rolled right and fired to WR Devery Henderson in the corner of the end zone with a scant 2.3 seconds on the clock.
    Ole Miss
    10 LSU 7
    "I like the fast pace of the no-huddle," Randall said. "It kind of keeps me focused. Between the plays, you don't have such a big break, and you keep moving."
    Henderson, who caught the Bluegrass Miracle game winner two weeks earlier, broke his arm on the touchdown play and was lost for the season.

Quarter 3

  • The defenses dominated the period. The only score was set up when Travis Johnson recovered Davis's fumble on the LSU 16. When the Rebs could gain only 3y on three plays, Nichols sent a 39y field goal through the uprights. Ole Miss 13 LSU 7 (9:08)
    Ole Miss's prospects of taking a two-score lead seemed bright when they reached the eight - easily within field goal range. But then came another of the strange plays that often beset opponents in Tiger Stadium. Manning lofted a short pass to RB Tremaine Turner near the five. But Turner never saw the ball and CB Demetrius Hookfin did. The aerial bounced off the back of Turner's helmet and into the waiting hands of a trailing Hookfin who returned the ball 45y out of harm's way.
    Ole Miss 13 LSU 7
    Hookfin was one of LSU's 22 seniors playing their final home game.

Quarter 4

  • The Tigers finally cranked up a 74y, 10-play drive. Randall started by hitting Clayton for 13y to the 39. Facing fourth and one from the Ole Miss 35, Randall sneaked for 2y. Three plays later from the 27, Clayton snared a button hook pass at the 21, turned, and ran untouched to the end zone. John Corbello's PAT gave the Tigers their first lead of the evening. LSU 14 Ole Miss 13 (6:34)
    Watch a video of the touchdown ...
    "It was a whip route," explained Clayton. "I faked a slant, and when the defender slipped, I just sat down. Marcus saw me when I was wide open."
    After an exchange of punts, three completions moved the Rebels to their 48 only to have Manning underthrow Chris Collins on a deep pass. The ball landed in the hands of CB Corey Webster.
    "I saw the tailback, and I thought he was open, but I didn't see the guy behind him," Eli said afterward. "It was a bad decision for us at that point. It was a situation where we needed a field goal ... It was a bad play by me. I didn't see the guy. I should have kept going and made sure there was a guy open."
    "That's just kind of how our season's gone," lamented Coach Cutcliffe. "Whatever could possibly go wrong does go wrong." Another interception, Webster's second, sealed the victory with 1:51 left.
    The Tigers held Manning to just eight completions in 21 attempts in the second half. It was revealed after the game that Eli suffered an elbow injury in the third quarter.

LSU Postgame

  • Coach Saban on his quarterbacks: "We were going to play both of them. I think not starting took the edge off Marcus. That's the best he's played since the South Carolina game. I told him, 'All you need to do is play average.'" Nick praised the fans for the way they sent off the seniors. "It was certainly a great atmosphere out there for them to finish their careers. The crowd did a fantastic job of helping us win this game. We needed the emotion that we played with in the end to overcome a lot of adversity which Ole Miss had a lot to do with. ... We have a great bunch of seniors, guys that have been here for three years and have had a lot to do with turning the program around."
  • Marcus Randall: "I wouldn't say not starting made me more at ease, but I got to see what the defense was doing. I knew I would get my chance, and when I did, I had to take advantage."

Ole Miss Postgame

  • Coach Cutcliffe: "We made a lot of plays that allowed us to maintain the lead for a big part of the game. But give LSU credit. They made the plays when they needed to make them. They did a good job of keeping the pressure on Eli all night long. He got beat up pretty good."
  • Manning completed 19-of-38 passes for 218y. "There are fumbles and interceptions ... and it's just not making plays when we needed to. They gave us the opportunities. They turned the ball over a bunch and gave us good field position. We just didn't score enough points and do enough offensively to win the game."

Next: LSU vs Eli Manning 2003

Matt Mauck

Eli Manning

LaBrandon Toefield

Mike Espy scores the first touchdown of the game

Jerel Myers

Domanick Davis

Michael Clayton

Devery Henderson

Demetrius Hookfin

John Corbello
LSU vs the Mannings 5: 2003
It was arguably the most important LSU-Ole Miss game since 1959. Some called it the biggest game in Oxford MS in 51 years.
  • #3 LSU (#4 in the BCS) was 9-1 with the only loss coming at home to Florida.
  • #15 Ole Miss was 8-2. Their setbacks were to Memphis and Texas Tech.
  • That meant the Rebels were one game ahead of the Tigers in the SEC West. A victory for the home team would clinch the division crown. But an LSU triumph would give them the tiebreaker provided they defeated Arkansas the following week.
  • An Ole Miss win would also give a big boost to QB Eli Manning's Heisman Trophy chances.

David Cutcliffe's Rebels had the SEC's top-rated offense because they were able to complement Eli Manning's passing with a solid ground game.

  • Unfortunately for the Rebs, Manning would operate behind a banged-up O-line.
  • The LSU offense led by junior QB Matt Mauck could help their defense by con­trolling the ball with their own running game.

A record crowd of 62,552 packed Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on a sunny afternoon.

Quarter 1

  • Ole Miss made a first down on their initial play - an 11y run. But four snaps later they punted 57y out of bounds at the seven. That snapped their eight-game streak of scoring on their first possession.
    Matt Mauck got off to the worst start of his career. On LSU's first offensive play, he rolled right and threw a pass intended for WR Michael Clayton that went right to CB Travis Johnson, who zipped into the end zone to give the Rebels a 7-0 lead just 66 seconds into the game.
    After an exchange of punts, LSU reeled off three first downs to move to the Ole Miss 28. But a holding penalty took the starch out of the drive, and Chris Jack­son booted a 45y field goal to put LSU on the board.
    The Tigers started marching again after forcing a punt, reaching the Reb 35. But two straight false start penalties on third down led to a sack. After Mike Espy returned the punt to the 48, Eli hit WR Kerry Johnson for the Rebels' initial first down to the LSU 40. Ole Miss ended the period with only 33y of offense. Ole Miss 7 LSU 3

L: Cameron Vaughn chases Eli Manning; R: Matt Mauck flattened by Josh Cooper.
Quarter 2
  • The defenses continued to dominate. LSU gained a first down only because of a roughing the kicker penalty on punter Donnie Jones. A strike to Devery Henderson gained 18y to the Ole Miss 38. The Tigers got a break when CB Ron Hutchins??? intercepted Mauck's pass and started to run with a clear path to the end zone. But late whistles for a false start negated the play.
    After a punt into the end zone, the Rebels lost another long gain. Manning connected with WR Chris Collins, who broke free down the right sideline before being tackled inside the 10. But he had carelessly stepped on the sideline at the LSU 49.
    After forcing a punt, LSU moved out to the 33 on runs by Justin Vincent and Shyrone Carey. But DT Jamie Mitchell made a great play, reading the screen pass and drifting outside to jump and grab Mauck's pass at the 35.
    Will Muschamp's defense kept the Rebels from capitalizing. They gained only 6y in three downs, so Jonathan Nichols, who had missed only one of 24 attempts all season, tried a 47yarder from the left hash mark that sailed wide right with 5:13 left.
    The Tigers responded with a 71y touchdown drive that featured a nice balance of runs and passes. Vincent started with a quick opener that put the ball on the 40 with the help of a face mask penalty. Then Justin burst into the clear through left tackle to the 16. After Carey lost a yard, Mauck threw quickly to Clayton at the right sideline for six more. After the Rebs stuffed Vincent for a loss of four, Matt went to Clayton again and got more than he bargained for. Michael waited a moment for RT Rodney Reed to come out and cut off the cornerback and RG Stephen Peterman to cut down the safety to clear a path for the lanky receiver to knife into the end zone with 2:42 remaining. The pass tied Mauck with Tommy Hodson's 1989 performance for most in a season at LSU – 22.
    After forcing a punt, the Tigers had time to move into field goal range, but time ran out with two timeouts in their pocket.
    LSU 10 Ole Miss 7
    The Tigers controlled the ball 20:06 to 9:54 for the Rebels. Ole Miss had only 11y rushing and three first downs.

Quarter 3

  • Two fired up defenses frustrated both quarterbacks. After LSU went three-and-out, Ole Miss got a first down on a pass to Espy for 18y to the 49. But four snaps later, LSU had the ball on the 20 after a touchback.
    Disaster struck on the first play. Mauck rolled right and threw his third interception, this one to CB Van Hutchins who returned to the 32.
    But the Tiger defense bailed out their beleaguered quarterback. DT Kyle Williams led an all-out blitz that sacked Manning for a 9y loss. Then Eli tried to force a pass into tight coverage only to have CB Corey Webster snag it at the 16.
    On 2nd and 11, Mauck zipped up the middle on a quarterback draw for a first down at the 28. The momentum continued with Vincent gaining nine and Joseph Addai 11 more to the 48. But the Rebs showed they could blitz too, storming through to chase Mauck backwards and force him into a grounding penalty to make it 2nd and 32. Jones shot a punt 58y that was returned 15y to the 32. But three incompletions and punt later, LSU start a possession at their 34.

Justin Vincent runs as Eric Edwards blocks.

Quarter 4

  • LSU stretched the lead to ten on the first play of the period when Mauck connected with Devery Henderson on a picture-perfect 53y pass down the left sideline. CBS announcer Verne Lundquist said, "With this defense, 10 points might be enough." He would prove to be right, but Manning & Company would not go down without a fight.
    They took just four minutes to pull within three again. A defensive holding penalty on a third down incompletion gave Ole Miss new life at their 41. Having held the Rebels to -2y rushing, LSU's defense played pass every down. A sack made it 2nd-and-19. But after an incompletion, Manning lofted a pass down the left side that landed in the hands of SE Bill Flowers for a 43y gain to the 20. Vashon Pearson zipped for 12 to make it 1st-and-goal. But when Pearson lost two on first down and Eli threw an incompletion on second down, Coach Cutcliffe called for a play similar to the one that Florida used to burn the Tigers in their only loss of the season. RB Brandon Jacobs delayed in the backfield, then slipped up the middle uncovered and took Eli's flip into the end zone. LSU 17 Ole Miss 14 with 10:51 left.
    The Rebel defense did its job, forcing a three-and-out. Jones got off another outstanding kick to the 14.
    Manning had led three fourth quarter comebacks that season. On 3rd-and-three, he rolled right and threw to FB Rick Razzano for the first down at the 30. Then back pedaling in the face of a ferocious rush, Eli threw long to Flowers at the LSU 39. Tremaine Turner ripped off 15y to get into field goal range. But Rebel fans had visions of a go-ahead touchdown. That didn't happen as two runs and an incompletion made it 4th-and-four. So Nichols, the most accurate field goal kicker in the nation, came out for a 36 yarder from the right hash mark. But his boot sailed wide right from the moment it left his foot. A man who had missed only one kick all season had now missed two in one game.
    4:15 remained - still plenty of time if thedefense could force a three-and-out. And that's what they did. After a delay of game penalty, two runs made it 3rd-and-five. Mauck then threw an incompletion to stop the clock. Espy returned Jones's punt 16y to the 32 with 2:16 left.
    Under heavy pressure, Eli threw long to Espy on 2nd-and-10, but S Jack Hunt smashed the receiver a split second after the ball arrived - incomplete. Then Webster had an interception in his hands but couldn't hang on. Facing fourth-and-10 from their 42 with 1:50 left, the Rebs called timeout. We'll never know what pass pattern was called. Eli had stayed under center all game so that the linemen could hear his audibles. As he went back to pass, DT Chad Lavalais pushed LG Doug Buckles backward, and Eli stepped on Buckles' foot, tripped, and fell down. It was the Tigers' third sack.
    LSU ran the ball four times to bring the clock down to 0:09. The game ended when Manning launched a Hail Mary from deep in his territory to midfield where it was deflected in the crowd. FINAL SCORE: LSU 17 OLE MISS 14
LSU Postgame
  • Coach Saban: "I think sometimes it helps that the ball bounces in your direction, whatever you call that, but I also think the way you compete in the game makes it bounce your way. Our defensive players went in there time and time again and made plays when they had to. The defense played and competed like gangbusters." He added, "I didn't think we had our personality today. As much as we preached about it, there was a lot of anxiety. We didn't look like ourselves."
  • QB Matt Mauck: "I really didn't play well, but my teammates were great. Maybe the offense tensed up a little, but the defense didn't. The defense bailed us out every time we messed up."
  • WR Michael Clayton admired how Mauck overcame his poor start. "It says a lot about the guy when he can keep making plays. The bad plays weren't all his fault. The guy has great character. That's who we're riding on. He's the horse, and we're gonna jump in the saddle."
  • DT Chad Lavalais took umbrage when asked about the Tigers' lucky breaks. "Luck? This game? The defense has been doing this all year. I see this as the defense stepping up to the challenge." He also had an interesting take on the offense's turnovers. "I kind of thought, 'I hope our offense throws another interception so we can go out there and stop them again.' Hey, put it on our shoulders. It's been on our shoulders all year. So it was no different in this game."

Ole Miss Postgame

  • Coach Cutcliffe: "They're the best defense that we've seen. I'd say they're as good as anybody in the country. They're as good as I've played against."
    Defensive coordinator Chuck Driesbach agreed: "In my 29 years of watching and coaching college football, that's one of the most dominating defenses I've ever seen. We'd seen them on film. They're big. They're fast. They're strong and athletic, and they're extremely well-coach. I thought out offense did a good job getting what they got."
  • Eli Manning completed only 16 of 36 for 200y with one touchdown and an interception to end his Heisman chances. "You have to give them credit. They've got a good defense. They were bringing pressure, and we were trying to react to it and just didn't make plays. We did have opportunities and didn't take advantage of them."



David Cutcliffe

Michael Clayton

Chris Jackson

Will Muschamp

Devery Henderson

Chad Lavalais

Rodney Reed

Stephen Peterman

Kyle Williams

Corey Webster

Joseph Addai

Jack Hunt

1996 Comebacks - I: Houston

Gerry DiNardo's second Tiger team pulled out victories in two home games with exciting Q4 rallies. Here's the story of the first one.

Gerry DiNardo

Kevin Faulk

Kim Helton

Chuck Clements

Ketric Sanford

Wade Richey

Denard Walker

Herb Tyler

David LaFleur

Alan Faneca

Cedric Donaldson

Antowain Smith

Larry Foster

Troy Twillie

Rondell Mealey

Kendall Cleveland
Gerry DiNardo "brought the Magic" back to Tiger Stadium when he was hired before the 1995 season to replace Curly Hallman.
  • His first team compiled LSU's first winning record since 1988: 7-4-1.
  • The '95 Tigers played in the school's first bowl game since 1988, the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, in which they defeat Nick Saban's Michigan State Spartans 45-26.
    TE Greg LaFleur, who had endured three losing seasons (one as a redshirt) under Hallman, recalled the change this way: Coach DiNardo came in that spring and changed the whole culture of the place. A very tough guy, a smart man who demanded respect. He really pushed us to our limit and tried to break us down. There was a lot of moaning and complaining, but looking back it was the right thing to do. ... He came in and instilled a mentality in us that we were going to be tough and run the ball.
  • The offensive star of Gerry's maiden voyage was RB Kevin Faulk, the highest-ranked player in the state coming out of Carencro High School. DiNardo made Kevin his #1 target when he took the job in Baton Rouge.
    Faulk recalled: Coach DiNardo was hired and introduced, and then he walked off the podium and came straight to my house. It was 45 minutes after his press conference. He came to the high school, we jumped in the car, and drove home to meet my parents.
  • Faulk lived up to his billing by leading LSU with 852y on 174 carries and six touchdowns as a freshman. That was good enough to earn him SEC Offensive Player of the Year despite the fact that he caught only five passes for 86y, ran back two kickoffs for 36y and didn't return a single pu nt. Kevin also won the offensive MVP Award at the Independence Bowl.

But an incident in his hometown February 19, 1996, nearly derailed Faulk's promising career.

  • He was arrested outside a bar for failure to move on, resisting arrest, and two counts of battery on a police officer, who missed four months of work with a broken foot.
    Faulk recalled: The thing about it was, I wasn't even part of the fight. I was trying to stop it and was caught up in the confusion.
  • On February 27, DiNardo suspended Kevin for the first game of the 1996 season.
  • But the Wednesday before the Houston game, the Carencro Police Chief asked the parish DA to drop the four misdemeanor counts against Kevin. The defendant would still have to ride with police officers and speak at Carencro schools on weekends and holidays.
  • The following day, DiNardo reinstated his star RB for the opener. Gerry explained that the suspension had not been for the misdemeanors but because "he showed a lack of respect for authority." Since Kevin "went back to the police and apologized," the coach insisted he was just doing "the right thing and the fair thing" by lifting the suspension. That explanation only exacerbated the charges of favoritism for his star RB.

The '95 turnaround had Tiger fans at a fever pitch not seen since '87.

  • A record number of season tickets - over 50,000 - were sold.
  • The Tigers were ranked #17 in the AP poll and one preseason national magazine pegged them at #12. Several other publications predicted LSU would win the SEC West.
  • DiNardo: This is it. We have to answer those expectations. It's time now. All the garbage is over. Let's play the game.

Houston had a game under its belt, a 43-25 victory over Sam Houston State.

  • Shackled by several years of NCAA sanctions, the Cougars suffered through a 2-9 season in '95, their fifth straight losing campaign. Houston had gone a miserable 4-28-1 the last three of those seasons under Kim Helton, who amazingly kept his job. (Some of the losses in his first year came via retroactive forfeits because of NCAA violations.) The penalties still were having an effect since Helton had only 69 scholarship playes, 16 below the Division I-A maximum.
  • Senior QB Chuck Clements led the pro-style attack. He had thrown for 2,641y in '95. He's as good a thrower as I remember us playing against. said DiNardo. You watch him on tape, and you wonder if you'll see anyone throw better.
  • With an inexperience secondary, the Tigers would rely on their good front and fine LBs to put pressure on Clement. However, LSU would be without its best D-lineman, though. T Anthony McFarland was sidelined with a broken foot.

LSU entered the fray a 23-point favorite.

  • Sam King wrote in the Advocate: LSU will put plenty of points on the board, but if Clements gets a hot hand, the Cougars could make a game of it. Still Sam picked the Tigers to win 38-28. He also wondered if Faulk may find more pressure on himself to perform in lieu of DiNardo's decision to reinstate him...
  • Another Advocate reporter, young Scott Rabalais, predicted a Tiger romp, 38-13. He expected LSU to control the ball with its running game, but the Tigers would have to avoid giving up too many big plays.
  • The mobility of sophomore QB Herb Tyler, who finished '95 with a 4-0 record as a starter, including wins the last three games, posed a threat for the UH defense.
80,303, the largest season-opening crowd in Tiger Stadium history and the fourth biggest overall, saw LSU need not just an average performance by Kevin Faulk but a sensational one to pull out their first season-opening victory since 1990.

Quarter 1

  • Houston started strong when Ketric Sanford returned the opening kick 51y before K Wade Richey dragged him down at the LSU 46. The Cougars moved 35y in 10 plays aided by a personal foul on CB Denard Walker to set up Sebastian Villarreal's 27y field goal. Houston 3 LSU 0 (10:27)
    The Tigers stifled their first possession with two penalties. But after an exchange of punts, DiNardo's offense embarked on a five-play, 66y drive highlighted by Herb Tyler's 3rd-down pass to massive TE David LaFleur just before the QB was flattened by two Cougars. The 6-7 278 pounder rumbled to the 23. The touchdown came when Faulk, one play after he ran 20y to the 3, waltzed through a big hole over the right side behind Alan Faneca. LSU 7 Houston 3 (4:07)
    Amazingly, it was the first time LSU had scored in Q1 of a season opener since 1990 against Georgia.
    After punting to LSU, the Cougars got the ball right back when CB Delmonico Montgomery picked off a Tyler pass and returned it 30y to the LSU 40 with 0:29 left in the period.
    END Q1: LSU 7 Houston 3
    Faulk recalled years later: Everything we did early seemed to backfire. We were playing against ourselves as much as Houston.

Quarter 2

  • Three plays gained only 4y. So Villarreal booted another field goal, this one from 42y out. LSU 7 Houston 6 (13:56)
    On their next series, the Cougars looked to be in deep trouble, backed up to their own 6 with the Tiger faithful seated in the end zone yelling in their ears. But an interference call against Walker on Maurice Bryant got UH out of the hole. Sanford ran for 12 and 17 on consecutive plays, and two slant-ins by Johnson produced 13 and then 8. From the 25, Antwain Smith burst through the right side on a delay past LSU blitzers and got a clearing block at the 5 by WR Jason DeGroot on the final two defenders. Cedric Donaldson intercepted Clements' pass for two points. Houston 12 LSU 7 (6:52)
    On LSU's first play, Tyler faked to Faulk and fired to Larry Foster who ran down the sideline to the Tiger 47. Faulk then took an option pitch around the right side for a 1st down at the UH 43. Two plays later, Herb kept the ball on the option to the 18. Faulk then tried to reverse his field on a pitch but lost 12y. That forced LSU to pass but two incompletions brought in Richey, who missed badly from 45y out.
    After forcing a punt, the Tigers had a chance to take the lead before halftime. Instead, Faulk fumbled the ball to UH at the 29 with 1:24 on the clock.
    Following two runs that gained 5y, Clements looped a 24y scoring strike to Damion Johnson running free at the 3 between CB Walker and S Troy Twillie. Smith rushed for two points. Houston 20 LSU 7 (0:32)
    Some boos rang down on the Tigers as they left the field at halftime.
    END Q2: Houston 20 LSU 7

Quarter 3

  • On the first play from scrimmage, Faulk shot through a hole up the middle, veered to the left behind a block by LaFleur, and outran the Cougars down their sideline for an 80y touchdown. Houston 20 LSU 14 (14:47)
    Faulk: When I realized I was in the open I started thinking, "Don't let anyone catch you now." When I hit the end zone I was relieved.
    In 2009, Faulk recalled his success at LSU: I had a good career there and a big reason was we had good offensive lines, guys good enough to play in the NFL. My favorite play was the zone play, where I would read off the linemen's leverage and make one cut and then go.
    The Tigers began their next series with a 25y run by redshirt freshman TB Rondell Mealey. But a few minutes later, LB Mike Parker stripped the ball from TE David LaFleur inside UH's 20, and FS Damon Harris sprinted 66y with the recovery to the 25 where Faneca, of all people, pushed him out of bounds. After a 6y gain, Sanford ran 18y to the 1. From there, Clements rolled right and flipped a pass to Jonathan Dennis. Houston 27 LSU 14 (6:11)
    It wasn't long before disaster struck LSU again. On the first scrimmage play after the kickoff, Faulk fumbled again when hit at the end of an 11y run, and S Stedmon Forman picked up the pigskin and raced 30y to paydirt for UH's 24th and 25th points off Tiger turnovers. Instead of going for two to get to a multiple of 7, the Cougars kicked the point. Houston 34 LSU 14 (5:57)
    Helton on not going for two: We missed a two-point conversion earlier, and we missed one last week. So we went for one. At that point, I didn't think they'd get back in the game.
    : The fumble really got me down. But I picked my head up and followed my blocking. ... When we got down by 20, we still thought we could win. Never for a minute did we think we weren't capable of coming back.
    The Bengals gained their 15th and 16th first downs before two successive losses forced LSU to go to the air. That resulted in an INT when the ball was tipped into Parker's hands.
    Letting the play clock run down as far as possible before snapping the ball, the Cougars just missed a 3rd down conversion as the period ended.
    END Q3: Houston 34 LSU 14

Quarter 4

  • The final period started with a bang just like the 3rd. Faulk took a line drive 30y punt on the run at his 22 and ran up the middle through the Cougars, then veered right to the end zone untouched as his escort, Foster, didn't have to throw a block until he leveled the punter at the UH 30. Houston 34 LSU 21 (14:44)
    Faulk: He kicked it straight on, and I got a running start, so those are the kind of punts to return. It helped us shift the momentum of the game. Kevin became the first Tiger to score more than one touchdown of 75+y in a single game.
    Houston RB Antowain Smith (later an NFL teammate of Faulk) remembered: We had a big discussion on the sidelines about whether to kick to Kevin or not. I guess they decided to take a chance. But the punt went right to him. Coach really chewed our punter out when he got back to the sidelines.
    Clements & Company rolled up one first down on a nice run by Smith before punting to the LSU 20.
    Faulk went to work right away, gaining 16 around LE on the first play and ripping off another 17 on the next through a big hole at RT. After a short run, Kevin gave way to redshirt freshman Rondell Mealey, who kept the momentum going with a 29y run to the 2.
    Mealey had been questionable for the contest with an offseason concussion and headaches. He had expected to be the starter until Faulk was reinstated. Afterward he said, Everybody's making a big deal about starting. It didn't matter if Kevin started or Kendall started. As long as we whipped Houston, it was no problem. ... I had no problem coming off the bench. I came to play. It didn't matter.
    That set up Kendall Cleveland's scoring plunge from the 2. Houston 34 LSU 28 (8:22)
    Needing a field goal to perhaps ice the game, the Cougars couldn't get close enough against the fired up Tiger defense and had to punt again.
    Kevin started the possession with scampers of 7 and 11y but then a blitzer dropped him for a loss as he took the handoff. That led to a punt.
    But LSU got the ball back again, Faulk luckily recovering his muff of the punt at the 32. From there, the Tigers marched to the go-ahead score against the tiring Houston D. With the ball on the UH 36, Mealey slid off LT and broke loose down an alley along the sideline to pay dirt on a play called Slant Check 37. Richey's kick put LSU ahead. LSU 35 Houston 34 (3:22)
    Mealey on his touchdown run: They didn't have anyone there, and I just ran. It was a great call.
    Though overshadowed by Faulk, Mealey ended the evening with 161y on just 14 carries. He became the first LSU freshman to rush for 100y in his first game since Dalton Hilliard gained 133 against Oregon State in 1982. It was also the first tiime LSU had a pair of 100y rushers in a game since Harvey Williams and Sammy Martin against Georgia in 1986. With Kevin, I, and Kendall in the game, it's hard to stop us, said Rondell. In my first game, to have a night like this, I mean I can't have a better game.
    Fittingly, Faulk clinched the victory on LSU's next possession with a 43y scamper to the 17 on 3rd-and-1 with 2:05 left. He broke through a hole at RT and set sail for the end zone. But a diving Cougar got a hand on his heel and tripped him enough that he couldn't keep his balance and fell to the ground 15y down the field. The game ended with LSU taking a knee inside the 10.
    Houston ended the second half with just 112y and five first downs. The Tigers outgained the Cougars 201-49 in Q4 and outscored the visitors 21-0.

    Kevin Faulk breaks into the open on his game-clinching run.
Faulk's 246y rushing (on 21 carries) and 376 all-purpose yards were both school records. His performance ranked 2nd in SEC history for all-purpose yards behind Kentucky's Moe Williams (1995).

The statistics implied LSU dominance rather than a one-point squeaker. But Tiger turnovers and penalties allowed Houston to build the 20 point lead.

  • First downs: LSU 24 Houston 17
  • Total yards: LSU 601 Houston 277
  • Yards rushing: LSU 433 Houston 162
  • Yards passing: LSU 168 Houston 115
  • Turnovers: LSU 5 Houston 0
  • Penalties: LSU 6-63, Houston 2-18
  • DiNardo: That's one of those early retirement games. ... To me, the most important thing he did was come back from the (second) fumble. ... If a group deserves tremendous credit, it's the offensive line. ... We put ourselves in a hole with the turnovers. I think Houston played a heck of a game with a good plan. We could have played better on offense as far as the turnovers are concerned. On Faulk: I was impressed with the way he came back after he fumbled. That would demoralize most people. ... I was praying I would have a good game because I knew you'd be hassling me if I didn't. ... I owe everything tonight to blocking. The offensive line was unbelievable. They opened up the holes, and luckily we were able to bring it home.Faulk: If you want to call it a great game, okay, but I fumbled two times.
    A legendary Tiger RB congratulated Kevin in the locker room. Charles Alexander, whose record of 237y against Oregon in 1977 Kevin broke, told onlookers, That was one of the best performances I've ever seen in this stadium. They'd better get ready to put him in the Heisman race.
    LB Allen Stansberry spoke for the defense: Heart, pride and the want to win. That's how we came back tonight. I tip my hat to the offensive line. We came back in the second half and stepped up and did the things that we were capable of.
  • Houston coach Helton was steaming. I think the greatest thing that happened to them was the fact that their coach changed his mind and let No. 3 play. No. 3 got unsuspended and made a lot of runs. He's a talented guy. ... Fatigue got to us. It was a great job by them. They pushed the ball at us ... We really didn't feel we allowed them to get back in the game. To their credit, they got themselves back in the game.

References: What It Means To Be a Tiger, Ray Glier (2009)
Game of My Life LSU: Memorable Stories of Tigers Football, Marty Mule (2006)

1996 Comebacks - II: Tulane
Gerry DiNardo's second Tiger team pulled out victories in two home games with exciting Q4 rallies. Here's the story of the second one. Read the story of the first comeback here ...

LSU concluded its 1996 home schedule with the annual "Battle for the Rag" game against Tulane.

  • The Tigers entered the fray with a 7-2 record, the losses coming at Florida (56-13) and at home to Alabama (26-0). LSU was under consideration for four bowl games: Citrus, Outback, Peach, and Independence.
  • Buddy Teevens' fifth Tulane squad was ending a dismal season with a 2-8 mark.
    Tulane players elected to remove the T logo from the right side of their helmets for the game in a show of support for their coach, who had been fired two days earlier, effective following the game, after winning just 11 games in five seasons.

78,966, the largest crowd ever to see Tulane play in Tiger Stadium, completed a new LSU home attendance record for a single season.

  • For the second week in a row, the Tigers started slowly. The fired-up Green Wave completely stymied the offense during the first half, holding LSU to just 69 total yards. They did a particularly good job of bottling up All-SEC RB Kevin Faulk, who gained only 26y in the first 30 minutes of play.
  • The only Tiger score came with 4:33 left in Q1 on an 85y INT return by S Mark Roman on a Shaun King pass that was tipped by DE Theo Williams. On the previous play, Roman had leveled Tulane WR Jeff Liggon to prevent him from catching a pass at the 4.
    Williams: I saw the tackle block down, and I knew it was going to be a three-stop drop. I just got my hands up, then I ran down to block.
    Roman complimented Williams for his tip and also DBs Greg Hill and Cedric Donaldson for their blocks on the return. I think it was a total team effort.
  • The Green Wave responded with an eight-play, 80y drive that finished with a 46y touchdown pass from King to P.J. Franklin to tie the score with 1:25 left in Q1.
  • Neither team scored in Q2 to leave the score 7-7 at the break. The Green Wave had a chance to score on the final play but, rather than attempt the 40-yarder, tried a fake field goal that had RB Alan Moorhead running free until he was knocked out of bounds at the 15.
  • The Tigers were lucky to head to the dressing room with a tie. Tulane outrushed LSU 149-36 and gained 115 more through the air to LSU's 33. Tulane led in first downs 14-3 and in plays 46-15.

LSU fell behind twice in the second half.

  • Tulane took its first lead on Tulane's 35y field goal . The score was set up by Michael Jordan's interception - the first thrown by LSU QB Herb Tyler in 78 attempts - that he returned to the LSU 38. Tulane 10 LSU 7 (11:19)
  • Faulk finally got untracked on LSU's next possession. He ripped off a 31y gain on the first play as the Tigers drove to the 1, from where Tyler ran into the end zone to regain the lead. LSU 14 Tulane 10 (8:02).
  • Undaunted, the Green Wave launched a six-play drive that began when Jeff Liggon returned the kickoff 48y from the goal line. King threw only one pass, an 11-yarder to JaJuan Dawson. The five rushes included one for 18y by 230lb FB Jerald Sowell, who, running behind a hulking offensive line, had gashed the Tigers for 93y in the first half. Finally, Moorhead's 1y run put the Wave back in front. Tulane 17 LSU 14 (4:55)
  • LSU responded with a run-dominated drive of their own to regain the advantage. Starting from the 20, Tyler connected with WR Larry Foster for 11. Two Faulk runs gained 15 before Tyler gained another 3. Then Herb threw to massive TE David LaFleur (6'7" 275lb) for 7y and a 1st down at the Tulane 45. Rondell Mealey, the backup to Faulk who would start for 90% of the colleges in the nation, gained 6 before a holding penalty set back the Tigers. Kevin returned and was thrown for a 2y loss after taking a swing pass from Tyler. Facing 3rd-and-15 from midfield, Tyler and Faulk combined on one of the biggest plays of the evening. Operating from the shotgun, Tyler could find no one open downfield. So he floated the ball to Faulk in the right flat. Kevin grabbed the ball at his shoe tops and scooted 24y to the 26.
    Coach Gerry DiNardo: That was the turning point of the game because it kept the drive alive. It was as fine a catch as I've ever seen. He can ignite you, and he did.
    Faulk: It was just react and catch.
    But two plays later, LSU faced 3rd-and-13. Tyler came through again, hitting Tyrone Frazier for 20y to the 9. Mealey ran in from there on the next snap. LSU 28 Tulane 17 (0:09)
  • The aroused Tiger D began the final period by forcing a three-and-out to give the ball back to the offense, which embarked on another scoring drive. The Green Wave aided the Tigers with a personal foul penalty on Faulk's punt return to set up the Tigers at the Greenie 31. Kevin scampered 11y, then gained 3 and 9 to move the chains again to the 8. Mealey and Tyler each gained 3 before Herb rolled out and flipped to LaFleur in the end zone to give the Tigers their biggest lead of the evening, 28-17, with 11:01 left in the game.
  • The teams exchanged punts until Chad Kessler put Tulane in a hole at its own 10 with a 57y punt. When three plays lost 5y, TU punter Brad Hill kicked just 27y to give the Tigers excellent field position at the 32. The ensuing drive was monotonous against the worn down Greenie defense: Faulk for 3, Faulk for 17, Faulk for 5, Faulk for 2. After a Tulane timeout, Tyler ran in from the 5 with 1:23 showing. Tulane got its initial first down of the period and padded its statistics in the remaining time with two completions for 26y and runs for 19 more against the LSU reserves. FINAL: LSU 35 TULANE 17
    Several teary-eyed Tulane players lifted Teevens for a ride off the field.

The hard-fought victory was LSU's 13th in a row over the Green Wave.


  • LSU coach Gerry DiNardo was asked if he was disappointed that Auburn didn't upset Alabama, which would have given his Tigers a shot at the SEC West crown. I guess. I don't know. I was more worried about winning our game to be honest with you. ... We wanted to start playing a little better regardless of the circumstances, but we didn't do that.
  • Tyler: We started out slow again. We just have to start faster next time. We made some stupid mental mistakes. Faulk agreed: We've got to work on that.
  • OT Ben Bordelon was one of 13 seniors playing in their final game in Tiger Stadium. It was very emotional. I'll never run through those goal posts again. My time is up, but I've had a great time here. On the offense's improvement in the second half: I don't think we changed at all. It was just a matter of attitude in the second half.
  • LB Allen Stansberry echoed that same theme. We didn't get a good start in the first half. If anybody was paying attention to that (the score of the Alabama-Auburn game), they were a fool. He praised Tulane. That team tonight was not a 2-8 team.
  • DT Anthony "Bogger" McFarland on the defense's improved play in the second half: There comes a point when you've got to put your foot down. It's like the old cliche, "Enough is enough."
  • Teevens: We had a lot of distractions during the course of the week, and they are a very resilient bunch, and I'm very proud of them. I'm very fortunate to have coached a bunch of kids like this, especially the senior. ... I think there are better days ahead of Tulane, and I'm sorry I won't be here to see them. Buddy praised the Tigers. We played a real good outfit. They're not ranked in the Top 25 for no reason. We played them flat out. I thought we played a good game. But in the second half, it was their time. They did some things themselves. But our kids kept playing, and they didn't seem to quit all season. On Sowell: Jerald is a special player. He played hard tonight. He was here in his own backyard (Sowell attended Baker High School), and he wanted to do well for the people. Jerald is a gifted guy. You will seem him play again in the future.


The Tigers defeated Arkansas in Little Rock 17-7 the following week to finish 9-2 and earn a share of the SEC West title although Alabama owned the tiebreaker. Invited to the Peach Bowl, LSU defeated Clemson 10-7.

Buddy Teevens

Kevin Faulk

Mark Roman

Shaun King

Herb Tyler

Jerald Sowell with NY Jets

Larry Foster

Ben Bordelon

Origin of "The Rag"

Bernie Moore

Pinky Rohm

Bob Kellogg

From 1917-1931, Tulane beat LSU ten times with one tie to only three victories by the Purple and Gold.
  • But the tide turned starting in 1932. LSU won four of the next six against the Greenies with one tie.
  • The powerhouses that Bernie Moore developed in 1935 and '36 walloped the Green Wave by a combined 74-0 score.

Before the 1937 game in New Orleans, the captains of the two teams made a pact that started a new tradition for the annual clash.

  • RB Pinky Rohm was acting captain for LSU for the game. The annual finale had special meaning for him because he was from the Crescent City (Fortier High School).
  • Before the toss of the coin, Pinky made a deal with Tulane's co-captains Norman Buckner and Norman Hall. We agreed the captain of the winning team could cut out the seat of the other captain's pants as a souvenir.
  • When LSU won 20-7, Rohm went to the Tulane dressing room to claim not his pound of flesh but his square of cloth. While dodging cleats thrown at him by the Greenies, Pinky borrowed a pair of scissors from the Tulane trainer and removed the seat of Hall's football trousers. The LSU captain preserved the patch, which became a forerunner of what became known as "The Rag."

LSU-Tulane action 1938
Tulane ended LSU's three-game winning streak by upending the Tigers 14-0 in Tiger Stadium in 1938.
  • The star of the game was Green Wave RB Bob "Jitterbug" Kellogg, who wanted to play for LSU but was deemed "too small" by Bernie Moore and his staff. Another explanation is that Moore did not want married players on his team.
  • Kellogg gained 131y in 21 carries - more yardage than all the LSU backs combined. He scored one touchdown, kicked two PATs, threw Tulane's only completed pass that set up the Wave's first touchdown, played safety superbly, and returned four kicks 51y.

Opening of north end zone in Tiger Stadium for Tulane game of 1938.
The picture at the left shows the African-American seating area in Tiger Stadium.

Tommy O'Boyle, who would be Tulane head coach

Jabbo Stell

Bernie Smith

Young Bussey
But the enduring story of the game was the free-for-all that broke out at the end.
  • Feelings were high and play rough from the beginning. At one point, linemen Tommy O'Boyle of Tulane and Jabbo Stell were ejected for fisticuffs.
  • With 35 seconds left and the outcome no longer in doubt, the Green Wave ran a play up the middle. LSU's Bruce Hedrick slugged the Greenie back and was ejected. LSU was penalized 30y.
  • On the next play, Bernie Smith blocked LSU back Young Bussey. Smith said afterward: After I blocked Bussey, he took a pass at me, and he knocked my headgear mask into my mouth and broke a couple of front teeth. When I found myself with a mouthful of teeth, I got mad and took a poke at Bussey. The next thing I knew everybody was throwing punches.
  • Players on both sidelines went onto the field. Soon a couple of dozen scraps were going on at the same time.
  • Both coaching staffs as well as the officials, LSU cadet officers, and state police tried to halt the hostilities. After five minutes of milling, order was restored. The officials called the two elevens together to insist on calmness so the game could be completed.
  • When the game ended, the Tulane and LSU players shook hands.

Fight for the goal posts
But then another battle broke out, this one involving the fans.
  • A mob of Tulanians jumped out of the stands and made a beeline for the north goal posts to tear them down. They were met by a score of LSU followers.
  • One reporter estimated that as many as 100 fights broke out around the goal posts, which were finally torn down by the determined Green Wave fans.
  • Several renditions of "The Star Spangled Banner" by the Tiger band failed to halt the fisticuffs. The P.A. announcer begged, Please leave the stadium. Time and tide and trains wait for no man.
  • An estimated 1000 of the crowd of 38,000 was involved in the melee as were mascots, cheerleaders, and water boys. The battle ebbed and flowed from one end of the field to the other.
  • Bernie Moore watched the fracas from the tunnel at the north end of the stadium. There must have been 15,000 people on the field throwing punches. ... One thing I'll never forget. When the fighting was at its peak, a little blond cheerleader ran out of the m illing throng over to where I was standing. "Coach," she told me, "ain't we having fun?" Then she turned right around and ran back to join those crazy folks.
  • Fighting continued until moonlight, with small skirmishes continuing with frozen sugarcane sticks in the fields south of the stadium.
  • Bill Keefe of the Times-Picayune called it one of the roughest games ever played between the two teams - a game which wound up in the most disgraceful exhibition of hoodlumism that ever marred this annual contest which, for years, has been a clean and sportsmanlike affair.
The student leaders of the two universities agreed that something must be done to prevent future outbreaks of violence. So they agreed on a proclamation that made these points for the annual clash:
  • The football field is neutral and off limits to students.
  • A rectangular flag of purple and blue cloth bearing the Louisiana seal would be awarded to the winner.
  • The presentation would take place at a banquet of the two student councils after the game.
Originally, the new trophy was referred to as the "truce flag." But after a 1942 free-for-all (not as violent as the one in '38), the prize was called "The Rag," and that stuck.