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LSU History: 2 good ones and 1 bad in the Dome

On the first play from scrimmage in the 2004 Sugar Bowl, LSU quarterback Matt Mauck handed the football to halfback Justin Vincent off right tackle.

Vincent broke through the line of scrimmage, rushed past the linebackers and got into the clear.

He was tripped up 64 yards later at the Oklahoma 15-yard-line.

There was still 59 minutes and 45 seconds of football left after Vincent’s run, which opened the game, which was the BCS-appointed affair between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country.

But after it, many LSU fans were convinced: the Tigers were leaving the Superdome that night as champions for the first time since the 1950s.

And that they did.

On Jan 4, 2004, LSU beat Oklahoma 21-14 on that night in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score would indicate.

LSU outgained Oklahoma 312-154 in the game and then-Tigers coach Nick Saban’s dominant defense completely smothered Sooners’ Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jason White, battering and bruising him throughout the game to the tune of 13-of-37 passing for 102 yards and two interceptions. LSU sacked White five times in the game and hit him about a dozen more.

That game is a night fans will likely never forget because it marked LSU as officially having arrived as a college football brand that could compete at the upper echelon with the best programs in the country.

Many Tiger fans remember vividly the image of Saban standing on the stage and hoisting the infamous BCS Crystal Ball, which was annually handed out to the champion of college football.

Of course, for as good of a start to 2004 as it was for LSU, it ended on a low note as Saban left for the Miami Dolphins on Christmas day of that year.

To replace him, the Tigers hired upstart coach Les Miles, who was a relative unknown out of Oklahoma State.

He, too, had his share of Superdome memories in January.

In the 2007 season, the BCS National Championship game cycled back to New Orleans and the Tigers again made the big game – earning their way after winning the SEC Championship over Tennessee.

OK, OK, it wasn’t quite that simple.

LSU lost to Arkansas on the final game of the regular season, which put LSU with just about a 0.0001 percent chance to make the title game heading into the SEC Championship game.

But the Tigers won, then got more help than the BCS has ever seen – especially Pittsburgh beating West Virginia, despite being almost a 40-point underdog.

Once in the title game, Miles had his signature moment with LSU on January 7, 2008, rallying the Tigers past Ohio State 38-24, overcoming an early 10-0 deficit to secure the win and the title – the school’s second one in four years.

They almost got a third in eight years in January 2012, but a foe from LSU’s past had other plans.

In the 2011 season, LSU was one of the best teams in the history of college football.

Led by names like Odell Beckham, Kenny Hilliard, Jarvis Landry, Sam Montgomery, Rueben Randle, KeKe Mingo, Bennie Logan, Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid and other NFL-bound standouts, the Tigers absolutely dominated their regular season slate, posting an unblemished 13-0 slate which only featured one close game – a 9-6 overtime win at Alabama.

Well, because that game was so close and because the Crimson Tide didn’t lose to anyone besides LSU, the computers placed Alabama into the BCS National Championship Game against LSU on Jan. 9, 2012, and that game didn’t go quite as the Tigers planned.

Alabama whooped LSU 21-0 in that game, holding the Tigers to just 5 first downs and 92 yards of total offense in the win.

Former LSU coach and current Alabama coach Nick Saban bested Miles and the Tigers to begin a winning streak over LSU, which still exists today.

Image: LSU Sports Inforation

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