BATON ROUGE, La. -- With Les Miles opening his 10th season as LSU’s head coach this week, we’ll use each day to review the decade under the eccentric Miles. Today we look back at some of the greatest wins of the Miles era.
10. No. 9 LSU 31, No. 5 Arkansas 26 (2006): Sometimes a victory is notable for what it gives your team, and sometimes it’s noteworthy for what it takes away from the opponent. This one did a bit of both. By holding off Arkansas in 2006, LSU knocked the Razorbacks out of the BCS championship picture and eventually booked a Sugar Bowl matchup with Notre Dame (where it destroyed the Fighting Irish).
9. No. 4 LSU 40, No. 3 Oregon 27 (2011): Oregon played Auburn for the BCS title the previous season, but it was no match for Tyrann Mathieu and LSU in the 2011 opener. This is the game that introduced “The Honey Badger” to the world, as Mathieu scored a touchdown after forcing a fumble and returning it 3 yards to the end zone, and he also posted a team-high 10 tackles and two pass breakups.
8. No. 13 LSU 28, No. 8 Tennessee 24 (2006): Miles’ Tigers suffered a painful 2005 loss to Tennessee in their first home game after Hurricane Katrina, so this was an especially meaningful win -- one that came when JaMarcus Russell hit Early Doucet with the game-winning touchdown pass with 9 seconds remaining.
7. No. 5 LSU 35, No. 15 Arizona State 31 (2005): Miles’ LSU debut had to be moved from Baton Rouge to Tempe in the aftermath of Katrina, but it produced a memorable outcome. The Tigers trailed 17-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, but prevailed after a wild final period when Russell hit Doucet with the game-winning pass on fourth-and-10 from the ASU 39 with 1:13 to play.
6. No. 12 LSU 33, No. 14 Florida 29 (2010): His penchant for making gutsy calls at crucial times will come up again on this list, but Miles’ decision to call a late fake field goal against Florida has to rank among his gutsiest. The Tigers trailed 29-26 with 35 seconds to play when Josh Jasper lined up for what would have been a 53-yard field goal -- only he instead took an overhead bounce pass-lateral from holder Derek Helton for a 5-yard gain and first down. LSU drove and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 3-yard Jarrett Lee pass to Terrance Toliver with 6 seconds remaining.
5. No. 1 LSU 9, No. 2 Alabama 6, OT (2011): This one would rank higher on the list but for the way the season ended in the rematch between these two teams (when Alabama dominated the Tigers 21-0 with a BCS championship at stake). One of several “Game of the Century” meetings between these two programs, LSU prevailed in this defensive struggle in part because of a blocked field goal and three long missed field goals from Alabama -- including Cade Foster’s miss from 52 yards in overtime.
4. No. 5 LSU 30, No. 18 Auburn 24 (2007): Some might question the sanity of Miles’ final play call against Auburn in 2007, but he insists the call came in plenty early enough and quarterback Matt Flynn simply took too long to start the play. Regardless, LSU turned the tables on Auburn when instead of centering the ball to prepare for a makeable game-winning field goal try, Flynn instead dropped back and hit Demetrius Byrd with a 22-yard touchdown pass that he completed with just 1 second to play.
3. No. 12 LSU 24, No. 5 Alabama 21 (2010): This game is remembered for two things: Miles getting caught eating grass by CBS’ TV cameras, and for the reverse the Tigers perfectly executed moments before his infamous grass-eating display. LSU trailed 14-13 with 9:51 to play when it faced fourth-and-1 at the Alabama 26. The Tigers caught the Tide defense completely off guard, however, when they ran right only to then flip the ball to tight end DeAngelo Peterson, who streaked around left end for a 23-yard gain. LSU would go on to score the go-ahead touchdown and never trailed again, knocking Alabama out of the SEC West race.
2. No. 1 LSU 28, No. 9 Florida 24 (2007): Many LSU observers rank this among the Tigers’ greatest victories in the long history of Tiger Stadium. Tim Tebow and the defending BCS champion Gators led 24-14 at the start of the fourth quarter, but LSU rallied to win, with Jacob Hester plowing into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown with 1:09 to play. LSU converted all five of its fourth downs that night, including the fourth-and-4 Byrd touchdown reception that cut Florida’s lead to 24-21, and two conversion runs by Hester on the game-winning drive.
1. No. 2 LSU 38, No. 1 Ohio State 24 (2007): There are more entertaining games on this list and several more interesting wins from the 2007 season alone, but none of them were for a national championship. Miles’ Tigers dominated most of the game against Ohio State and claimed the program’s second BCS title in five seasons.
Five that missed the cut:
No. 1 LSU 42, No. 12 Georgia 10 (2011 SEC championship game)
No. 5 LSU 21, No. 14 Tennessee 14 (2007 SEC championship game)
No. 9 LSU 23, No. 3 South Carolina 21 (2012)
No. 4 LSU 41, No. 11 Notre Dame 14 (2006)
No. 5 LSU 16, No. 4 Alabama 13, OT (2005)