Series history: LSU and Notre Dame had some drama, even before they met _lowres

Advocate file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU’s Clarence LeBlanc stops Notre Dame’s Malcolm Johnson during the teams’ game Nov. 15, 1997, at Tiger Stadium.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Even before they first met on the football field, LSU and Notre Dame had the makings of a contentious rivalry.

In 1969, LSU was on its way to a surprisingly strong 9-1 season, the Tigers’ only loss a 26-23 defeat at the hands of Archie Manning and the Ole Miss Rebels.

Long before conference bowl tie-ins and playoffs, LSU was trying to orchestrate a trip to the Cotton Bowl to face No. 1 Texas.

It looked like a good bet — until Notre Dame decided to end a 45-year-long self-imposed bowl ban.

The Cotton Bowl snapped up the No. 9 Fighting Irish (8-1-1), leaving No. 10 LSU in the cold. While the Tigers focused on playing in the Cotton Bowl, other big bowls filled up.

The Sugar Bowl took a 7-3 Ole Miss team and the exciting Manning over an LSU team that would have to beat Tulane to finish 9-1, disappointment pervading the Sugar Bowl selection committee that the Tigers didn’t show interest until they were shut out in Dallas.

The Sun and Bluebonnet bowls offered berths in their bowls but, in a move that would never happen today, LSU left the decision up to a vote of its team. The Tigers voted to stay home.

LSU and Notre Dame met the following year in football for the first time. They’ve played 10 times in all, the series tied at 5. The tiebreaker, at least for now, comes Tuesday here in the Music City Bowl (2 p.m., ESPN).

Here’s a look back at LSU and Notre Dame’s first 10 meetings:

Nov. 21, 1970: Notre Dame 3, LSU 0

The Irish had the nation’s No. 1 offense averaging 541 yards per game, but Notre Dame could only manage one field goal, and that set up by a controversial penalty. LSU’s John Nagel was flagged for interference near midfield, keeping alive a Notre Dame drive that culminated in a 24-yard field goal by Scott Hempel. LSU won the total yardage battle 170-131 but lost the war.

Nov. 21, 1971: L SU 28, Notre Dame 8

This wasn’t so much a game as a crusade, as the Tigers finally got Notre Dame on their home turf in heavily Catholic south Louisiana. LSU coach Charles McClendon preferred the run over the pass but let passing put his team over the top in this one. Andy Hamilton caught seven passes for 153 yards, three of them for touchdowns — two from his cousin Bert Jones and one from Paul Lyons.

Sept. 12, 1981: Notre Dame 27, LSU 9

The Tigers’ first road trip to South Bend, Indiana, in 10 years was almost over before it started. Notre Dame, in its first season under coach Gerry Faust, bolted to a 20-0 halftime lead and coasted to victory. The win over an LSU team that would finish 3-7-1 vaulted the Irish from No. 4 to No. 1 — before they lost the next week to Michigan.

LSU sports news in your inbox

If you're a Tiger fan you won't want to miss this newsletter. Sign up today.

Oct. 27, 1984: Notre Dame 30, LSU 22

The Tigers were 5-0-1 and ranked No. 7 against the 3-4 Irish (captained by ESPN’s Mike Golic), but it was Notre Dame that looked like the ranked team. After an early Jeff Wickersham-to-Dalton Hilliard touchdown pass, the Irish ran off 20 straight points, with two TD runs by Allen Pinkett. He finished with 40 carries for 162 yards.

Nov. 23, 1985: LSU 10, Notre Dame 7

On an icy South Bend Saturday with temperatures in the mid-30s, scoring was in the deep freeze. LSU got 294 yards passing from Wickersham, but it wasn’t until the final five minutes before the Tigers could rally from a 7-3 deficit. A 21-yard Wickersham-to-Mitch Andrews pass set up a 2-yard TD run by Garry James with 3:26 left.

Nov. 22, 1986: LSU 21, Notre Dame 19

Tim Brown, the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner, stunned Tiger Stadium with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter, but he was the victim of another great goal-line stand in the south end zone by LSU. Notre Dame’s Steve Lawrence returned a Tommy Hodson interception to the Tigers’ 2 in the third quarter, but on fourth-and-goal at the 1, Steve Rehage threw Brown for a 4-yard loss.

Nov. 15, 1997: Notre Dame 24, LSU 6

The Irish felt right at home in Tiger Stadium on a chilly, overcast afternoon and beat the Tigers at their own game: running the ball. Notre Dame pounded LSU for 260 rushing yards, 92 yards each by Autry Denson and Clement Stokes, while holding the Tigers to 121 yards on the ground despite 105 yards from Kevin Faulk. Herb Tyler was intercepted three times.

Dec. 28, 1997: LSU 27, Notre Dame 9

The Tigers and Irish met five weeks later in the Independence Bowl, with LSU turning the tables on Notre Dame. Rondell Mealey spent his career in Faulk’s shadow, but on this day he was the star with 222 yards and two TDs rushing on 34 carries. LSU sacked Irish quarterback Ron Powlus five times and let him complete just 8 of 18 passes for 66 yards.

Nov. 21, 1998: N otre Dame 39, LSU 36

LSU coach Gerry DiNardo was feeling the heat in a job he would lose a year later, and this road loss didn’t help. The Tigers slipped to 4-6 with another lackluster defensive effort, allowing 470 yards to the No. 10 Irish. Faulk avenged a second-quarter fumble returned by Lamont Bryant for a TD with an 88-yard kickoff return for a score on the next play.

Jan. 1, 2006: LSU 41, Notre Dame 14

The Sugar Bowl matchup of the Tigers and Irish was billed as a shootout between LSU’s JaMarcus Russell and Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn, but it turned out to be a one-sided affair. Russell was 21-of-34 for 332 yards and two TDs, while Quinn was just 15-of-35 for 148 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Notre Dame tied it at 14 in the second, but LSU scored the last 27 points, capped by Russell’s 58-yard bomb to Brandon LaFell.