My earliest memory of the Alabama – LSU series is the 1979 game played in Baton Rouge. This game was played in a downpour in Baton Rouge and the Tide won 3-0. I didn’t actually watch this game (I’m not sure it was even on television) or listen to it on the radio. My team had a youth league football game that night and we only received periodic updates from the precious few fans with a portable radio. I could hardly believe my ears upon hearing the final score: 3-0? Really? Here are the highlights:
Beginning in 1971, LSU received the same treatment as Tennessee: whippings for 11 straight years. The worm began to turn in 1982, though, as the Tigers began their routine of beating Bama as visitors. In ’82, ’84, ’86 and ’88 the Tigers traveled up and whipped our tails. The 1986 game stands out in particular. That was a team featuring Mike Shula, Bobby Humphrey and Cornelius Bennett. Two weeks earlier, the no. 2 ranked Tide had been beaten at home by no. 6 Penn State. A week later, Humphrey set the Bama single game rushing record at Mississippi State, so the Tide appeared ready to romp against no. 18 LSU. Needless to say, Humphrey fumbled away our dreams.
My next memory in the series, from 1991, is much better – well, what I can remember of the game is better. Gene Stallings’ 7-1 team traveled to Red Stick and snuck out with a 20-17 win against the purple-clad Tigers. Antonio London blocked a last minute field goal for the Tide to preserve the win.
The Tide broke my heart again in 1993 as somehow Curley Hallman’s Tigers snapped Bama’s 30 game unbeaten string. This game also has one other distinction: despite being played on a sunny day in November, I was the coldest I’ve ever been at a sporting event at this game. Sitting in the second level near a portal created a wind tunnel effect that completely froze my wife and me.
The wife and I packed up and headed to Baton Rouge for the 1996 game. By then, the Tigers hadn’t beaten Alabama in Red Stick since 1969. Tide was 7-1 and ranked no. 10 and the Tigers were ranked no. 11. It seemed like a good year for the Tigers’ home skid to end, but it was not to be. Highly-recruited, but seldom used tailback Shaun Alexander burst onto the college football scene that night in Baton Rouge by rushing for an Alabama-record 291 yards. Take a look:
In 1998, we pushed our luck once more and traveled with the Tide to the Bayou. Although the Tigers weren’t very good (4-4), we thought they had a pretty good shot of ending the streak against the 5-3 Tide. Wrong. LSU gives up a 16-7 lead with less than five minutes left and lose 22-16. The wife and I were actually headed for the exits midway through the fourth quarter but kept watching “one more play” before leaving. As it turns out, this was one of the most amazing comebacks in Bama history.
In 1999 Marvin Constant gave all on the goal line to preserve a Bama win.
In 2000, some coach named Nick Saban helped the Tigers break their home jinx, 30-28.
In 2001, Tiger quarterback Rohan Davey ripped the Tide for 528 yards passing. Ouch. I took some of the family to that game. Mistake.
That was the first of five straight losses to the Tigers, with the next win coming in year number two of Saban’s time at Bama. You probably remember this one:
And the last memory I’ll give you is from 2009 when Saban and the boys “made their a** quit.”
Wow. There’s lots of memories here. Some bad, but most of them good. It’s funny. I can remember the run up to most of these games. ”This game” – you know, this year’s version – is always a big deal. This year’s is a little bigger than most, but I’m hoping that win or lose, some good memories will hang around from it.