LSU-Texas 2003 Cotton Bowl

Texas' Roy Williams tries to get past Corey Webster and the LSU defense at the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 2003. 

As football powers from neighboring states, LSU and Texas have been far-flung curiosities to each other more often than rivals. Especially in the last 50 years. The Tigers and Longhorns have played 17 times, with Texas holding a 9-7-1 edge in the series, but only once since 1963. The teams meet Saturday in Austin (6:30 p.m., ABC) and Sept. 12, 2020 in Tiger Stadium, the first home-and-home series between the schools since 1953-54.

Jan. 1, 2003 — Texas 35, LSU 20: In the first football meeting between the Tigers and Longhorns in 40 years, LSU bolts out to a 17-7 second quarter lead on a 10-yard touchdown run by Domanick Davis. But Texas claws back to take a 21-17 halftime lead on a 51-yard Chris Simms to Roy Williams touchdown pass, turning a short slant into a big play, and a 1-yard blast by Cedric Benson. Williams scores on a 39-yard run in the third quarter as Texas pulls away and is named the Cotton Bowl’s offensive MVP. “He might be the best football player I’ve seen all year,” LSU coach Nick Saban says. One year and three days later, LSU would win the BCS national championship.

Jan. 1, 1963 — LSU 13, Texas 0: Texas coach Darrell Royal called his 9-0-1, No. 4-ranked Longhorns “the most criticized undefeated club in history.” On a New Year’s Day afternoon in the Cotton Bowl, No. 7 LSU removes the undefeated part. The Tigers, who allowed just 34 points 10 regular-season games, hold the Longhorns to 172 total yards and force three turnovers. Quarterback Lynn Amedee, the game’s MVP, kicks a pair of field goals and recovers a fumble to set up a 22-yard touchdown run by another LSU quarterback, Jimmy Field. The win allows the Tigers to finish 9-1-1 under first-year coach Charles McClendon. Texas rebounds to go 11-0 and win the national championship the following season.

Sept. 18, 1954 — Texas 20, LSU 6: In their most recent trip to Austin, the Tigers are never in it against the No. 4-ranked Longhorns. Only a 44-yard touchdown run by Vince Gonzales allows LSU to avert a shutout in its season opener. The loss is an ominous one for former LSU great and then coach Gaynell Tinsley, who before the next season is replaced by Paul Dietzel.

Sept. 19, 1953 — LSU 20, Texas 7: The Tinsley era is an uneven one for LSU, with the Tigers often winning as underdogs and losing as favorites. This 1953 season opener before 40,000 fans in Tiger Stadium is a case in point. The Tigers topple the No. 11-ranked Longhorns behind the play of quarterback Al Doggett, who reportedly only had a week’s worth of work at the position.

Oct. 3, 1936 — LSU 6, Texas 6: On a broiling hot afternoon in Austin, the Tigers quite likely fumbled away the first Associated Press poll national championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. With Texas players pulling at the ball on virtually every play, LSU fumbles a staggering 10 times, losing six. Texas goes on to finish 2-6-1 and last in the Southwest Conference. LSU goes 9-0-1 in the regular season, scoring an NCAA-best 281 points and winning the SEC title, and finishes No. 2 in the first AP poll behind 7-1 Minnesota before losing 21-14 to Santa Clara in the Sugar Bowl (polls concluded before bowl games then).

Email Scott Rabalais at srabalais@theadvocate.com