Five significant LSU football anniversaries in 2018

LSU celebrates 125 years of football this season. And while many LSU fans are anxiously waiting to see how the Tigers will add to the program’s illustrious history in the second full season under Coach Ed Orgeron, there are several other historic milestones the Tiger faithful can celebrate (or choose to forget again with a glass of bourbon) this football season. Here are five more important moments to mark while celebrating LSU’s football birthday.


Courtesy LSU Athletics

LSU’s first great team – 1908
In the pre-Tiger Stadium era, Edgar Wingard’s squad posted a perfect 10-0 record and should have been named champions of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The Tigers outscored opponents 442 to 11, and quarterback Doc Fenton led the nation in scoring with 125 points. After LSU was accused of paying some of its players, many sports writers awarded Auburn the title. An investigation later cleared LSU of any misconduct, but the votes had already been cast. Despite being retroactively named the 1908 co-national champion by the National Championship Foundation, LSU does not officially claim this title amongst its three subsequent national championships.


Courtesy LSU Athletics

The first national championship – 1958
LSU’s first claimed national championship is widely considered to be the best season in program history. Led by the legendary backfield of Billy Cannon, Warren Rabb and Johnny Robinson, Coach Paul Dietzel’s team finished 11-0, beating No. 12 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl to cap off the Tigers’ perfect season. Dietzel ran a three-platoon system with three different sets of players to keep guys fresh throughout the games, including a legendary second-string defensive unit: the Chinese Bandits.


The Earthquake Game – 1988
LSU battled Auburn in a defensive slugfest during this October Tiger Stadium classic. Having allowed only two field goals, the Tigers trailed 6-0 late in the fourth quarter. LSU quarterback Tommy Hodson connected with Eddie Fuller on a fourth-and-10 touchdown pass with less than two minutes remaining, causing more than 79,000 fans to erupt in triumph. The roar generated by the Tiger faithful registered as an earthquake by a seismograph in the LSU geology department.


Courtesy LSU Athletics

Nick Saban’s national championship – 2003
LSU’s second national championship was the crowning achievement of Nick Saban’s resurrection of the program. After leading the Tigers to SEC championship game and Sugar Bowl victories in his second season in Baton Rouge, Saban and LSU ascended to the top of the college football mountain, amassing a 13-1 record in the process. It culminated in a 21-14 win over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl and the Bowl Championship Series National Championship. LSU, however, would have to settle for a split national championship when Southern California was voted No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll, still a point of contention for the legions of Tiger faithful.


Steve Franz / Courtesy LSU Athletics

Saban returns – 2008
Five years after leading LSU to national championship glory, Nick Saban returned to Tiger Stadium, this time to coach against the Tigers as the head coach of Alabama. Saban left LSU for the NFL following the 2004 season and spent two mediocre seasons as head coach of the Miami Dolphins before landing in Tuscaloosa. All manner of vitriol was directed at Saban before, during and after the Tigers and Tide battled on the field in front of the largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history at the time. LSU fought hard against its former coach, tying the score at 21 late in the fourth quarter and blocking a last-second Alabama field goal to force overtime. The Tigers, however, faltered after quarterback Jarrett Lee threw his fourth interception of the game, allowing Alabama to escape with a 27-21 overtime victory in what became known as Saban Bowl II.

This article was originally published in the Tiger Pride section of the August 2018 issue of 225 Magazine.

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