August is not too rich a month when it comes to LSU athletic history.
School is just getting back in session in the calendar’s eighth month and almost every university sport is in the offseason for at least the first three or four weeks of the 31 days.
But in 2007, August was the start of something special for the LSU football team.
In that year, the Tigers had a magical season, a national-championship-winning team—its second in four seasons.
And thanks to a little wrinkle in the schedule, the Tigers’ path to greatness began on a warm, muggy late-August night in Starkville, Mississippi.
On Aug. 30, 2007, third-year head coach Les Miles took LSU to Mississippi State to start the season – a rare, opening-night Thursday game for the Tigers.
The game was nationally televised on ESPN.
It was the first SEC game of the season – a tune-up game for a Tigers team, which was scheduled to face No. 9 Virginia Tech in Death Valley nine days later on Sept. 9.
On paper, the Tigers were loaded.
They earned the No. 2 ranking in the preseason polls and the team was widely considered to be among the favorites to chase the BCS National Championship (which they would later win).
On opening night, LSU proved worthy of the ranking, completely dismantling the Bulldogs from start-to-finish in a 45-0 win.
LSU flexed its muscles in a big way that night.
The Tigers led 3-0 after the first quarter —showing a little bit of rust early on.
But once the team got itself into gear, Mississippi State was in a world of hurt.
LSU outscored the Bulldogs 42-0 over the final three quarters—mutilating then-Bulldogs coach Sylvester Croom’s team in all three phases of the game to kick off the 2007 on the perfect note.
The Tigers outgained Mississippi State 347-146 in the win, while also forcing six Bulldogs turnovers—all interceptions.
Senior safety Craig Steltz had the biggest night of any Tiger on this night, intercepting three passes, while also recording three tackles.
Offensively, LSU was balanced, getting 68 rushing yards from Jacob Hester and two rushing scores from Keiland Williams.
Quarterback Matt Flynn was efficient, as well, completing 12-of-19 passes for 128 yards and two scores.
Probably the most memorably play of that game is a jaw-dropping, leg-buckling block LSU receiver Brandon LaFell made, which melted the Bulldogs defender’s knees and was an instant YouTube sensation.
“Anytime you start with an opening-game victory, it feels more important because it takes your summer conditioning into account,” Miles said after the blowout win. “This game was a tremendously important one. I comment our coaches and our players. They prepared and they played wonderfully.”
With the win, LSU took heaps of momentum into their showdown with the Hokies and the Tigers rolled again—crushing Virginia Tech 48-7 to cruise to the top of everyone’s list of contenders.
The team had a few blips of the radar – including two, triple-overtime losses at Kentucky and Arkansas.
But thanks to a few lucky breaks on the last night of the season (and Miles’ statements about LSU never being beaten in regulation), the Tigers advanced all the way to the BCS National Championship Game where they soundly defeated Ohio State in front of a frenzy of fans in the Superdome.