LSU Season Buster? Too many times, Alabama has painted an unblemished LSU season all red

Glenn Guilbeau
The Daily Advertiser
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) celebrates with his team after running in for a touchdown at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. LSU defeated Auburn 23-20.

BATON ROUGE — LSU may be in the midst of its greatest season ever.

Never have the Tigers had such a great offense, as it is only 1,866 yards away from setting the school record for total yards, which is 6,152 set in 2007 when the Tigers won their last national championship.

No. 1 LSU (8-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) is at 4,287 yards now and averaging 535.9 a game, which is 82 yards more than the school record of 453.3 a game set in 2013. That was a great offense in 2013 with quarterback Zach Mettenberger, receivers Odell Beckham Jr., and Jarvis Landry and tailback Jeremy Hill, but its defense could not match it, as it allowed an average of 36 points in its three losses.

Don't Say It: Orgeron not referring to "Alabama" by name

There have been many much better defenses in LSU history than this one. But this defense is improving and is likely good enough to help LSU beat No. 2 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or with him, as he will likely not be 100 percent after ankle surgery. Either way, this will be LSU's best chance to win this game since 2014, when it lost to Alabama, 20-13, in overtime.

LSU and USA TODAY No. 1 Alabama are each open this week and will enter their 2:30 p.m. game on Nov. 9 on CBS in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa each unblemished for the first time since the “Game of the Century” on Nov. 5, 2011.

That night in Tuscaloosa, No. 1 LSU (8-0, 5-0 SEC) beat No. 2 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC), 9-6, in overtime.

Four years later, LSU (7-0, 4-0 SEC) was ranked No. 2 when it went to No. 4 Alabama, but the Tide was 7-1 and 4-1 after losing, 43-37, at Ole Miss. The Tide beat LSU that night, 30-16.

The Quote: "We're going to come for their heads," says LSU receiver Justin Jefferson

While rare, undefeated LSU-Alabama meetings are not new.

This will be the fifth LSU-Alabama pairing beginning in 1964 in which neither team has a loss, excluding several games over the years that were very early in the season.

LSU is 1-3 against Bama in such battles of the undefeated, and naturally that trilogy of losses wrecked a season that started so beautifully for the Tigers. History is on Alabama’s side as usual, but the better team will be on LSU’s sideline this year.

Let’s now look at the Undefeated 4 in the LSU-Alabama series:

1964: LSU under third-year coach Charles McClendon came in at No. 8 in the nation at 5-0-1 overall and 2-0-1 in the SEC with a 3-3 tie against Tennessee, while Alabama was No. 3 and 7-0 overall, 6-0 in the SEC.

McClendon, who played under Coach Bear Bryant in 1949 and '50 when Bryant was Kentucky's head coach, would be coaching against his mentor for the first time. Bryant was in his seventh season as Alabama’s coach and had won one national championship in 1961.

Interestingly, Alabama did not play LSU in '61, which is too bad as it would have been a top five match-up had they played that November. And it would have paired Bryant with another former pupil in LSU coach Paul Dietzel, who an assistant under Bryant at Kentucky in 1951-52. Dietzel's star was on the same level as Bryant at the time as he was just three years removed from an 11-0, 1958 national championship season at LSU.

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The Tigers were ranked No. 4 in November of 1961 and finished at No. 4, and the Tide was No. 2 that November. The two ended up sharing the SEC championship as LSU finished 10-1 and 6-0 with its only loss in the season opener when Rice upset the No. 5 Tigers, 16-3, in Houston. Alabama finished 11-0 and 7-0.

But back to 1964. Alabama beat LSU, 17-9, at Legion Field in Birmingham, and went on to win the national championship. LSU recovered to win its next two SEC games over Mississippi State and Tulane, but was upset at home by Florida, 20-6, before beating Syracuse in the Sugar Bowl to finish 8-2-1 and at No. 7.

1972: The Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC) were No. 6 in the nation and looked like a team of destiny, as it had just beat Ole Miss, 17-16, thanks to a slow clock operator in Tiger Stadium that kept :01 on the board so quarterback Bert Jones could try one more time for the end zone. And he found running back Brad Davis for the 16-16 tie with no time on the clock before the game-winning extra point. After the game, legendary LSU sports information director Paul Manasseh told McClendon: “If you had any guts, you would’ve gone for two."

LSU was not all lucky, though. It had destroyed a No. 9-ranked Auburn, 35-7, in Tiger Stadium on Oct. 14. But Alabama (8-0, 6-0 SEC) was very good, too, and ranked No. 2 in the nation. In ABC’s nationally televised afternoon game, the Tide was too much for LSU and won, 35-21, in Birmingham. LSU recovered to beat Mississippi State, 28-14, the next week, but suffered a tie at unranked Florida, 3-3, and barely escaped Tulane Stadium with a 9-3 win before losing to Tennessee and quarterback Condredge Holloway, 24-17, in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston. After the 7-0 start, LSU finished 9-2-1 and at No. 11.

Alabama went on to win the SEC, but it was upset, 17-16, by Auburn, which scored two touchdowns on back-to-back blocked punts in the final minutes of the game. Both times, Auburn's Bill Newton blocked the punt, and David Langner scooped and scored.

1973: Once again, the Tigers were off to one of their best starts since the 1958 national championship season. And this time, the No. 7 Tigers (9-0, 5-0 SEC) would be at home against No. 2 Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC), and it would be at night.

It was such a big game, ABC moved it to Thanksgiving night, giving each team only four days between this game and the previous one. And the Tide won again, 21-7. LSU proceeded to fall apart, losing its next two. The Tigers lost, 14-0, at Tulane to snap a 24-game Green Wave winless streak against LSU, and they fell, 16-9, to Penn State in the Orange Bowl. The Tigers finished 9-3 and No. 13. Alabama went on to win a share of the national championship even though it lost, 24-23, to Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.

LSU kicker Drew Alleman (30) celebrates with Brad Wing (38) after Alleman kicked the winning field goal in overtime to defeat Alabama 9-6 on Nov. 5, 2011.

2011: At last, it happened on Nov. 5, 2011, in Tuscaloosa. LSU coach Les Miles’ Tigers (8-0, 5-0 SEC) came in at No. 1 to play No. 2 Alabama (8-0, 5-0). LSU won the “Game of the Century” 9-6, in OT on a 25-yard field goal by Drew Alleman, who went to Acadiana High in Lafayette. And Miles took a 3-2 lead in head-to-head, head coaching match-ups over Alabama coach Nick Saban, whom Miles replaced after the 2004 season.

LSU went on to win the SEC at 8-0 and 13-0 overall. Alas, this loss did not wreck the Alabama season. It recovered to win out and reach the national championship game in the Superdome at No. 2 and 11-1. And the Tide won it, 21-0, leaving LSU at 13-1. LSU has not beat Alabama since, as the streak has grown to eight.

2019 – Amazingly, if LSU wins this “Game of the Century,” and Alabama recovers again to win out as it did in 2011, or if Alabama wins and LSU wins out, could LSU and Alabama meet again in the College Football Playoff?

It could happen.

Bama has ruined undefeated LSU starts 13 times

Another red stain on LSU's football history is the number of times Alabama has ruined a perfect season for the Tigers. It is 13 to be exact, counting early-season and season-opening losses.

They follow with LSU's record before Alabama and the post-Bama and final records:

Year .. Record ... Score ... Post Bama, Final Record

1921 ... 3-0 ... Tied 7-7 ... 3-1, 6-1-1

1925 ... 2-0 ... Lost 42-0 ... 3-2-1, 5-3-1

1927 ... 2-0 ... Tied 0-0 .... 2-4, 4-4-1

1944 ... 0-1 ... Tied 27-27..2-5, 2-6-1 

1945 ... 1-0 ... Lost 26-7 ... 6-1, 7-2

1953 ... 1-0 ... Tied 7-7 ... 4-3-2, 5-3-3

1964 ... 5-0-1 . Lost 17-9 ... 3-1, 8-2-1 

1972 ... 7-0 ... Lost 35-21 ... 2-1-1, 9-2-1

1973 ... 9-0 ... Lost 21-7 ... 0-3, 9-3 

1981 ... 0-0 ... Lost 24-7 ... 3-6-1, 3-7-1

1987 ... 7-0-1 . Lost 22-10 ... 3-0, 10-1-1

2011-12 . 13-0 . Lost 21-0 ... 0-0, 13-1*

2015 ... 7-0 ... Lost 30-16 ... 2-2, 9-3 

2019 ... 8-0 ... ? ... ? ... ?

*LSU stayed undefeated at 9-0 and ruined Alabama's perfect regular season of 8-0 with a 9-6 win in overtime in 2011. But Alabama still reached national championship game at 11-1 against 13-0 LSU.

Alabama has had seven undefeated regular seasons ruined by LSU:

Year ... Record ... Score ... Post LSU, Final Record

1927 ... 2-0 ... Tied 0-0 ... 3-4, 5-4-1

1951 ... 1-0 ... Lost 13-7 ... 4-5, 5-6

1957 ... 0-0 ... Lost 28-0 ... 2-6-1, 2-7-1

1958 ... 0-0 .... Lost 13-3 ... 5-3-1, 5-4-1

1993 ... 7-0-1 .. Lost 17-13 .. 2-2, 9-3-1

2005 ... 9-0 ... Lost 16-13 OT ... 1-1, 10-2

2011 ... 8-0 ... Lost 9-6 OT ... 4-0, 12-1          

SEC Rankings

1. LSU (8-0, 4-0). 2. Alabama (8-0, 5-0). 3. Florida (7-1, 4-1). 4. Auburn (6-2, 3-2). 5. Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2). 6. Georgia (6-1, 3-1). 7. Tennessee (3-5, 2-3). 8. South Carolina (3-5, 2-4) 9. Ole Miss (3-5, 2-3). 10. Vanderbilt (2-5, 1-3). 11. Mississippi State (3-5, 1-4). 12. Kentucky (4-4, 2-4). 13. Missouri (5-3, 2-2). 14. Arkansas (2-5, 0-4).

This Saturday's Games

Texas San Antonio at Texas A&M, 11 a.m., SEC Network; No. 8 Georgia vs. No. 6 Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., 2:30 p.m., CBS; Mississippi State at Arkansas, 3 p.m., SEC Network; Ole Miss at No. 11 Auburn, 6 p.m., ESPN; Alabama-Birmingham at Tennessee, 6 p.m., ESPNU; Vanderbilt at South Carolina, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network.

Open: LSU, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri.

Last Saturday's Games

Texas A&M 49, Mississippi State 30. No. 2 LSU 23, No. 10 Auburn 20. Tennessee 41, South Carolina 21. No. 1 Alabama 48, Arkansas 7. Kentucky 29, Missouri 7.

Note of the Week

The LSU-Alabama game is being billed as a No. 1 vs. No. 2 "Game of the Century," but in fact it is a No. 1 vs. No. 1 "Game of the Century," as Alabama is No. 1 in the USA TODAY coaches' poll and LSU is No. 1 in the Associated Press media poll.

The first College Football Playoff poll, which is the only poll used to determine the four-team College Football Playoff, will be released for the first time this season on Nov. 5 — the Tuesday before Alabama and LSU meet.

Stat of the Week

The LSU-Auburn game was last Saturday's most watched college football game in the country as it drew 7.175 million viewers on CBS in the 2:30 p.m. time slot. The most viewers were located in Birmingham, New Orleans, and Columbus, Ohio, which is 75 miles from LSU quarterback Joe Burrow's hometown of Athens, Ohio, and where he began his college career at Ohio State. Atlanta and Jacksonville, Florida, had the fourth and fifth most viewers.

Quote of the Week I:

"We're going to come for their heads. I mean, we're going to do what we need to do. We're excited to go against them and want to come out with a win. We're going to dominate. I mean, there's nothing much to it. I mean, we owe them. So, we're going to get to it."

... LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson on the Alabama game.

Quote of the Week II:

“If he plays, it will be close to a miracle.”

... Dr. J. Chris Coetzee, an orthopedic surgeon in Minneapolis on the likelihood of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa playing against LSU after recent surgery on his high ankle sprain.

Quote of the Week III:

"This is not a finish line for us. It's a start."

... LSU coach Ed Orgeron on the Tigers' No. 1 ranking.