The curtain rises Saturday night on the 122nd season of LSU football when the McNeese State Cowboys visit Tiger Stadium for just the second time. Here’s a look back at five of LSU’s most memorable season openers:
Sept. 17, 1966 – LSU 28, South Carolina 12: In a non-conference game he helped schedule while still LSU’s coach, Paul Dietzel returns to Tiger Stadium in his first game at South Carolina. Dietzel has just left Army, which he left LSU for in 1962. The victory is a huge one for Charles McClendon, Dietzel’s former assistant and successor, who goes on to become LSU’s winningest coach.
Sept. 19, 1970 – Texas A&M 20, LSU 18: The Tigers lead 18-13 with less than a minute left and the visiting Aggies pinned at their 21. On third down, Aggie quarterback Lex James launches an 89-yard touchdown pass to Hugh McElroy, who scores with :13 left. The Tigers recover to go 9-3, win the SEC championship and come within a score of upsetting eventual co-national champion Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
Sept. 11, 1976 – LSU 6, Nebraska 6: The Cornhuskers are just the second No. 1-ranked team to visit Tiger Stadium, and underdog LSU carries the fight to Nebraska all night long. The ‘Huskers only escape an upset when Mike Conway’s 44-yard field goal attempt sails just wide of the uprights in the closing seconds.
Sept. 7, 1996 – LSU 35, Houston 34: The No. 17-ranked Tigers look like they’re going to fall victim to a stunning upset, trailing Houston 34-14 going into the fourth quarter. But led by Kevin Faulk’s then school-record 246 yards rushing, LSU storms back for the victory. Faulk scores to open the fourth on a 78-yard punt return while Rondell Mealey scores the winning touchdown on a 36-yard run with 2:42 left.
Sept. 10, 2005 – LSU 35, Arizona State 31: With LSU’s campus serving as medical shelter for thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims, the game is hastily moved to Tempe, Arizona. Sun Devils quarterback Sam Keller riddles LSU for 461 yards passing and four touchdowns, but the biggest throw belongs to JaMarcus Russell. On fourth-and-10 he finds Early Doucet on a 39-yard TD pass with 1:13 left to cap a wild 42-point fourth quarter.