By JIM ENGSTER
President, Tiger Rag Magazine
The year was 1969 with the Vietnam War in full bloom, and Americans up in arms. Woodstock, the Manson murders, Richard Nixon, The Age of Aquarius, Easy Rider and the best LSU football team to NOT win a national title: all were prominent in the year that Pistol Pete Maravich led college basketball in scoring for a second straight season and Chris Jackson was born in Gulfport, Miss.
The Bengals of ’69 rolled to nine wins in ten regular season games with the only blemish coming in a 26-23 nail-biter at Jackson won by Archie Manning’s Ole Miss Brigade. The Rebels overcame a 23-12 deficit as Charles McClendon eschewed a game-tying field goal attempt that could have produced a tie on the fateful day of Nov. 1.
If LSU had departed Mississippi Memorial Stadium with a 26-26 tie, the Tigers would have won the SEC Championship. Instead, the loss to Ole Miss gave the Rebels the title by a half game over LSU, and the Tigers were not invited to a major bowl despite outscoring their opponents 349-91. The most notable victory for the unsung Tigers of ‘69 was a 20-15 decision over Alabama on Nov. 8 at Tiger Stadium.
The triumph over the Tide in ’69 is significant because Alabama has given LSU plenty of grief at Death Valley ever since. Here is a breakdown of the LSU-Alabama clashes in Tiger Stadium since McClendon’s whipping of the Bear in ’69.
1971: Alabama 14 LSU 7
1973: Alabama 21 LSU 7
1975: Alabama 23 LSU 10
1977: Alabama 24 LSU 3
1979: Alabama 3 LSU 0
1981: Alabama 24 LSU 7
1983: Alabama 32 LSU 26
1985: Alabama 14 LSU 14
1987: Alabama 22 LSU 10
1989: Alabama 32 LSU 16
1991: Alabama 20 LSU 17
1992: Alabama 31 LSU 11
1994: Alabama 35 LSU 17
1996: Alabama 26 LSU 0
1998: Alabama 22 LSU 16
2000: LSU 30 Alabama 28
2002: Alabama 31 LSU 0
2004: LSU 26 Alabama 10
2006: LSU 28 Alabama 14
2008: Alabama 27 LSU 21
2010: LSU 24 Alabama 21
2012: Alabama 21 LSU 17
2014: Alabama 20 LSU 13
In the last 23 games between the Tide and the Tigers in Baton Rouge, Alabama holds an 18-4-1 advantage. The point differential is 515-320 in favor of Alabama.
Alabama has won 82 percent of the showdowns in Tiger Stadium with its Louisiana rival since 1969. In the other matchups between the SEC foes, Alabama has been successful a more modest 60 percent of the time.
The Red Elephants did not lose at Tiger Stadium for more than three decades. LSU Coach Nick Saban broke a 31-year drought and guided his troops to a 30-28 victory over the Tide in his rookie season in TigerTown. Saban led LSU to two of its four wins at home over Alabama in the last 47 years of competition between the SEC rivals.
Saban was 2-1 vs. Bama in Baton Rouge when he was the coach of LSU and is 3-1 against LSU in Tiger Stadium as coach of Alabama.
The clash of Nov. 5 will possibly determine the future of LSU Coach Ed Orgeron. If O conquers Saban, he will be on his way to losing the interim label. If Saban beats LSU for a sixth consecutive time, Athletic Director Joe Alleva will be busy planning clandestine meetings with other candidates.
As mentioned in a previous column, the game also has huge implications on the selection of the next leader of the free world. Based on the last eight presidential elections (1984, ’88, ’92, ’96, ’00, ’04, ’08, ’12), an LSU victory means a Republican victory. An Alabama triumph results in a Democrat winning the White House.
Do not be surprised if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton make pre-game speeches in opposing locker rooms. Their future depends on the outcome of LSU vs. Alabama. If the Tigers win, Trump is the 45th American president. If Bama prevails, Clinton becomes the nation’s first female commander-in-chief.
LSU should schedule all games after 8 p.m.
It has long been theorized that LSU plays better after dark. The 8:15 p.m. kickoff against Ole Miss is indicative of the Tigers playing their best ball under the lights. It wasn’t until after 10 o’clock that LSU converted a 21-21 tie into a 38-21 rout.
In the old days, LSU kicked off after 8 p.m. every week at home. It would be helpful to the won-loss column to schedule the games as late as possible. Former Coach Bill Arnsparger smiled 30 years ago as he observed, “It takes our fans longer to get ready.”
This was evident last week as there were real fights reported between Ole Miss and LSU fans. Men actually got knocked out with battery charges levied against a couple of brutes.
Just like old times.
Fournette and Guice in battle for rushing supremacy
Leonard Fournette had a superhuman performance against Ole Miss with a school record 284 yards as he looked like the greatest runner the Ole War Skule has produced. But as great as No. 7 was last Saturday, he is in a race for being ranked as the best rusher on the LSU roster.
Fournette and Derrius Guice are closely matched after seven games.
Fournette: 83 attempts, 670 yards, 5 touchdowns, 8.1 yards per carry
Guice: 78 attempts, 621 yards, 7 touchdowns, 8.0 yards per carry
It will be a shock if Guice winds up as the leading rusher for LSU this season. Fournette is on a mission as he prepares for Alabama. Last year, LSU lost the national title, SEC championship, SEC West crown and the Heisman Trophy in one fell swoop as Fournette was limited to 31 yards in 19 carries in the 30-16 loss at Tuscaloosa.